The guideline covers importation of firearms and ammunition under two Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (CEMA) offences: sections 50 (improper importation of goods) and 170 (fraudulent evasion of prohibition/ restriction). It refers to types of weapons covered by sections 1, 5(1) and 5(1A) of the Firearms Act 1968.
The Council is proposing sentences of up to 28 years’ custody for the most serious cases, for example the large-scale importation of rapid-firing weapons for use in crime, and up to seven years for offences involving firearms that are less dangerous. The sentences depend on a number of factors including the type of gun imported, the role of the offender and the scale and nature of the importation. The less serious cases, typically involving importation of a stun gun with no criminal intent, may be sentenced in magistrates’ courts.
The consultation is seeking views on the draft guideline from judges, magistrates and others interested in this area of sentencing. It runs from 17 June 2021 to 8 September 2021.
There is currently no sentencing guideline for CEMA offences, and the proposed draft is a result of requests from the National Crime Agency and Crown Prosecution Service for a guideline to cover firearms importation offences.
The Council has issued eight sentencing guidelines for offences under the Firearms Act 1968, which came into effect on 1 January 2021:
- Possession, purchase or acquisition of a prohibited weapon or ammunition – sections 5(1), 5(1A);
- Possession, purchase or acquisition of a firearm/ammunition/shotgun without a certificate – sections 1(1), 2(1);
- Possession of a firearm or ammunition by person with previous convictions prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition – sections 21(4), 21(5);
- Carrying a firearm in a public place – section 19;
- Possession of firearm with intent to endanger life – section 16;
- Possession of firearm or imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence – section 16A;
- Use of firearm or imitation firearm to resist arrest/possession of firearm or imitation firearm while committing a Schedule 1 offence/carrying firearm or imitation firearm with criminal intent – sections 17(1), 17(2), 18; and
- Manufacture/sell or transfer/possess for sale or transfer/purchase or acquire for sale or transfer prohibited weapon or ammunition – section 5(2A).