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Firearms and Gun Crime 

Firearms and Gun Crime
Chapter:
Firearms and Gun Crime
Author(s):

Paul Connor

DOI:
10.1093/law/9780198806387.003.0009
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Subscriber: null; date: 15 August 2018

9.1 Introduction

At this stage of your study you should have read the ‘Firearms’ section of your Manual and you will be aware that this contains some lengthy and complicated lists of what constitutes a certain type of firearm. One approach to simplifying matters (although this is not guaranteed to be successful all of the time) is to examine the exceptions rather than the rule and you will see this approach adopted in part of this section of the Workbook. The section concentrates on the criminal use of firearms, as this is a particularly relevant area of law for the NIE.

9.2 Aim

The aim of this section is to supply you with an overview of offences relating to the criminal use of firearms.

9.3 Objectives

At the end of this section you should be able to:

  1. 1. Explain what a firearm is under s. 57 of the Firearms Act 1968.

  2. 2. Identify when an offence under s. 16 of the Firearms Act 1968 (possession with intent to endanger life) has been committed.

  3. 3. Point out relevant issues in an offence under s. 16A of the Firearms Act 1968 (possession with intent to cause fear of violence).

  4. 4. Outline the offence under s. 17(1) of the Firearms Act 1968 (using a firearm to resist arrest).

  5. 5. Point out relevant issues in an offence under s. 17(2) of the Firearms Act 1968 (possessing a firearm while committing or being arrested for a Schedule 1 offence).

  6. 6. Outline the offence under s. 18(1) of the Firearms Act 1968 (having a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence or resist arrest).

  7. 7. Define the offence of having a firearm in a public place contrary to s. 19 of the Firearms Act 1968.

  8. 8. Identify when a convicted person can possess a firearm.

  9. 9. State the police powers under s. 47 of the Firearms Act 1968.

  10. 10. Apply your knowledge to multiple-choice questions.

9.4 Firearm

In order to understand offences relating to the criminal use of firearms, you must be able to understand what a firearm actually is. The definition of a firearm is provided by s. 57 of the Firearms Act 1968.

9.4.1 Exercise—What is a Firearm?

Write down what you can remember about the definition of the word ‘firearm’.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Use the information you have just written down to help you decide whether the following items would, could or would not be classed as a ‘firearm’ for the purposes of s. 57 of the Firearms Act 1968. Place a mark in the box you consider to be appropriate.

Description

Would

Could

Would Not

A telescopic sight

An imitation revolver

A signalling pistol

A silencer

A flash eliminator

A prohibited weapon

9.5 Possession with Intent to Endanger Life

9.5.1 Exercise—HALLORAHAN Scenario

Examine the following scenario and provide answers where requested.

HALLORAHAN discovers that his wife is having an affair with COURT and decides to confront COURT to sort the matter out. He places several items into his car and drives to COURT’s house, intending to kill him if COURT does not finish the affair. HALLORAHAN has a number of items with him:

  1. i. an imitation firearm (an AK-47 machine gun) in the boot of his car;

  2. ii. a 9mm Beretta pistol, held in a shoulder holster worn by HALLORAHAN; and

  3. iii. a 12-gauge shotgun that HALLORAHAN has placed on the front passenger seat of his car.

HALLORAHAN has placed the shotgun in his car, intending to get his friend, JAGO, to come with him and use the shotgun to kill COURT.

  1. 1. Which of the three items does HALLORAHAN have in his ‘possession’?

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

  2. 2. Which of the three items could be used to commit an offence under s. 16 of the Firearms Act 1968?

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

  3. 3. What is your opinion of the fact that HALLORAHAN has brought the shotgun, intending to get a friend he has not even approached yet to use it to kill COURT?

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

  4. 4. HALLORAHAN is obviously not going to kill COURT if he finishes the affair with HALLORAHAN’s wife. How would this affect the offence?

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    HALLORAHAN gets to JAGO’s house but he is not in. He drives to COURT’s house but as he pulls onto COURT’s drive, COURT sees him and runs away before HALLORAHAN even gets out of his car.

  5. 5. COURT has not been injured. Does this make a difference to whether the offence has been committed or not?

    Yes / No

    HALLORAHAN decides he has had enough and takes out the Beretta pistol, intending to kill himself with the firearm.

  6. 6. What does the law say with regard to the life endangered being that of the defendant?

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

  7. 7. At what point of this scenario, if at all, does HALLORAHAN first commit the offence under s. 16 of the Act?

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

9.6 Possession with Intent to Cause Fear of Violence

9.6.1 Exercise—GILBERT Scenario

Consider the offence of possession with intent to cause fear of violence as you read the following scenario. When you have finished reading, complete the tasks that follow the scenario.

HANSON is continually having parties in his garden and this is disturbing GILBERT (HANSON’s neighbour), who finds the noise unbearable. One night GILBERT decides he is going to do something about the problem. He knows that HANSON is a violent individual and he will need to protect himself in some way before confronting him, so he puts an imitation firearm, which has the appearance of a Walther PPK pistol, in his jacket pocket. GILBERT goes round to HANSON’s house and knocks on the door. Moments later the door is answered by HANSON’s girlfriend, KILNER. As it is KILNER and not HANSON who has answered the door, GILBERT does not produce the imitation firearm. Instead, and intending to make KILNER fear that violence will be used against HANSON, he says to KILNER, ‘Turn the music down or I’ll break your boyfriend’s arm!’ KILNER does not believe GILBERT and tells him to go away before slamming the door in his face.

  1. 1. Think of the offence under s. 16A only. You should be able to identify four issues from this scenario that will affect your decision in deciding whether or not an offence has been committed. What are they?

    1. i. _________________________________________________________________________________

      _________________________________________________________________________________

    2. ii. _________________________________________________________________________________

      _________________________________________________________________________________

    3. iii. _________________________________________________________________________________

      _________________________________________________________________________________

    4. iv. _________________________________________________________________________________

      _________________________________________________________________________________

  2. 2. Take each issue that you have identified in turn and state what effect it has regarding the offence.

    1. i. _________________________________________________________________________________

      _________________________________________________________________________________

    2. ii. _________________________________________________________________________________

      _________________________________________________________________________________

    3. iii. _________________________________________________________________________________

      _________________________________________________________________________________

    4. iv. _________________________________________________________________________________

      _________________________________________________________________________________

  3. 3. What is your conclusion regarding the scenario?

    • ____________________________________________________________________________________

9.7 Using a Firearm to Resist Arrest

9.7.1 Exercise—Using a Firearm to Resist Arrest True or False?

Look at the following statements and decide whether they are true or false.

  1. 1. Using an imitation firearm as a means to resist arrest would constitute an offence under this section.

    • True / False

  2. 2. This offence requires proof of ‘possession’ of the firearm.

    • True / False

  3. 3. This offence requires proof that the defendant made some actual use of a firearm to resist arrest.

    • True / False

  4. 4. DC SMITH is in the process of arresting NAYLOR for an offence of theft when his friend, BARKER, approaches the officer and points a silencer at him. She tells DC SMITH to let NAYLOR go. BARKER commits the offence under s. 17(1).

    • True / False

9.8 Possessing a Firearm while Committing or Being Arrested for a Schedule 1 Offence

This offence sometimes causes difficulty because of the problems associated with identifying what a Schedule 1 offence is. The ACTOR mnemonic in your Investigators’ Manual might help you remember what is included.

9.8.1 Exercise—CAPE Scenario

Consider the following circumstances. Identify and deal with the key issues as they occur in the scenario.

NORWOOD owes £2,000 to CAPE, but has refused to pay back the money he owes on several occasions. CAPE has lost patience with NORWOOD and drives to NORWOOD’s house to get the money. CAPE has an imitation Browning pistol in the glove box of his car which he considers using to threaten NORWOOD with, but then decides he does not need to and leaves it in his car which he parks outside NORWOOD’s house. He knocks at the door, which is opened by NORWOOD’s wife moments later. As soon as the door is opened, CAPE says, ‘Give me some cash or you’ll get a beating!’ NORWOOD’s wife has no idea who CAPE is or that her husband owes him money and, thinking she is being robbed, she hands over £500 from her purse. CAPE, who believes that he has a right in law to the money and thinks he is doing nothing wrong, gets back into his car and drives off, but not before NORWOOD’s wife writes down his registration number. Mrs NORWOOD reports the incident as a robbery.

  1. 1. Think of the offence under s. 17(2) only. You should be able to identify four issues from this scenario that will affect your decision in deciding whether or not an offence has been committed. What are they?

    1. i. _________________________________________________________________________________

    2. ii. _________________________________________________________________________________

    3. iii. _________________________________________________________________________________

    4. iv. _________________________________________________________________________________

  2. 2. Take each issue that you have identified in turn and state what effect it has regarding the offence.

    1. i. _________________________________________________________________________________

    2. ii. _________________________________________________________________________________

    3. iii. _________________________________________________________________________________

    4. iv. _________________________________________________________________________________

  3. 3. What is your conclusion regarding the scenario so far?

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

Police enquiries trace CAPE through the registration number of his car. The police attend CAPE’s house and arrest him for the offence of robbery. CAPE’s house is searched and the imitation Browning pistol is found in CAPE’s bedroom.

  1. 4. Think of this part of the scenario in isolation. Has CAPE committed the offence under s. 17(2)?

    • Yes / No

    • CAPE is charged with robbery and possession of a firearm whilst being arrested for a Schedule 1 offence and pleads not guilty to both offences. At his trial he is found not guilty of the robbery because there was no theft (belief in a right in law, s. 2(1)(a) of the Theft Act 1968).

  2. 5. What effect will the finding of ‘not guilty’ have with regard to the charge of possessing a firearm while committing a Schedule 1 offence?

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

9.9 Having a Firearm with Intent to Commit an Indictable Offence or Resist Arrest

9.9.1 Exercise—SALISBURY Scenario

Read the following scenario and answer the questions based on its circumstances.

SALISBURY is planning to rob a Post Office in a small village. He drives into the village and parks a short distance from the Post Office. SALISBURY has a 9mm Beretta pistol hidden underneath the front driver’s seat of his car, but he does not intend to use it during the course of the robbery, as his primary reason for having the pistol is to protect himself. SALISBURY begins walking towards the Post Office, but is arrested by the police who have been tipped-off about his plan.

Has SALISBURY committed the offence under s. 18(1)?

Yes / No

Why / Why not?

____________________________________________________________________________________

The second part of the offence deals with the defendant resisting arrest or preventing the arrest of another.

Examine the following scenario then attempt Exercise 9.9.2 (AIDEY Scenario).

PC LEY approaches AIDEY, who is trespassing on private land with a loaded shotgun in his possession. PC LEY arrests AIDEY for the offence of trespassing on land with a firearm under s. 20(2) of the Act, but AIDEY points the shotgun at the officer and says, ‘You’re not arresting me, mate.’

9.9.2 Exercise—AIDEY Scenario

Consider the circumstances regarding PC LEY and AIDEY.

Would AIDEY commit an offence under s. 18?

Yes / No

Why / Why not?

____________________________________________________________________________________

9.10 Having a Firearm/Imitation Firearm in a Public Place

9.10.1 Exercise—Defining the Offence

Write down as much of the definition of this offence as you can.

9.11 Possession of Firearms by Convicted Persons

9.11.1 Exercise—How Long?

How long, if at all, would the named person be prohibited from possessing a firearm and (if there is a period of disqualification) when would it begin from?

RIPLEY was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment for theft, but only served six months of her sentence.

Period:

Run from:

MATHER was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment for assault, but was released after serving two months’ imprisonment.

Period:

Run from:

GREGSON was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for robbery and served two years.

Period:

Run from:

FENNA was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for a s. 18 wounding. He served his full sentence.

Period:

Run from:

DOLAN was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for fraud and served three years.

Period:

Run from:

9.12 Police Powers (s. 47)

9.12.1 Exercise—Considering Police Powers

Consider the following scenarios and decide what course of action is open to the named police officer under s. 47 of the Firearms Act 1968.

  1. 1. PC TRENT is on uniform patrol in a public place when she sees LINGUARD walking towards her carrying a shotgun. The shotgun is loaded.

    • Can PC TRENT require LINGUARD to hand over the shotgun for examination?

    • Yes / No

  2. 2. PC TRENT is on uniform patrol in a public place when she sees LINGUARD walking towards her carrying a shotgun. The shotgun is not loaded.

    • Can PC TRENT require LINGUARD to hand over the shotgun for examination?

    • Yes / No

  3. 3. PC TRENT is on uniform patrol in a public place when she sees LINGUARD walking towards her carrying a shotgun.

    • Can PC TRENT detain and search LINGUARD in the exercise of her powers under s. 47 of the Act?

    • Yes / No

  4. 4. PC TRENT is on uniform patrol in a public place when she sees LINGUARD walking towards her carrying a shotgun. LINGUARD gets into a Ford Escort car that begins to drive towards the officer.

    • Can PC TRENT stop and search the vehicle under s. 47 of the Act?

    • Yes / No

  5. 5. PC TRENT is on uniform patrol when she is called to a private school’s playing fields where LINGUARD is shooting rabbits with a shotgun. LINGUARD is a trespasser.

    • Can PC TRENT require LINGUARD to hand over the shotgun?

    • Yes / No

  6. 6. PC TRENT is on uniform patrol when she is called to a house where there has been a report of a suspicious person in a private garden. When she arrives she sees LINGUARD cleaning his shotgun in the garden, which turns out to be his property. The call was made in good faith but was incorrect.

    • Can PC TRENT require LINGUARD to hand over the shotgun?

    • Yes / No

  7. 7. DC PARKER (dressed in plain clothes) is taking a witness statement from JONES when he sees KITSON walking down the street outside JONES’s house with a shotgun. The shotgun is not loaded.

    • Can DC PARKER require KITSON to hand over the shotgun?

    • Yes / No

    • What will happen if KITSON says ‘No’?

    • ____________________________________________________________________________________

9.13 Conclusion

This part of the Workbook has sought to provide you with an understanding of offences relating to the criminal use of firearms, as well as some associated subjects. You should be aware that there are a number of firearms issues that can only be addressed by reading the appropriate section in your Investigators’ Manual.

9.14 Recall Questions

Try and answer the following questions.

  • What is NOT a firearm?

  • Explain when a silencer could be classed as a firearm.

  • What is an imitation firearm?

  • What is the only offence that you have studied in this section where the offence cannot be committed with an imitation firearm?

  • Can fingers be an imitation firearm?

  • What does the term ‘possession’ mean?

  • What are the two offences that deal with firearms and resisting arrest?

  • What differences are there between the two offences?

  • Outline the offence of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

  • What does the mnemonic ACTOR stand for?

  • What does the mnemonic FAIL stand for?

  • What does 3 × 3 equal and why?

  • What are your powers under s. 47 of the Firearms Act 1968?

9.15 Multiple-Choice Questions

Answers to these questions can be found in the ‘Answers Section’ at the end of the book. All explanations also include a reference back to the Investigators’ Manual 2018.

1. ROBE is a drug dealer and he is becoming concerned that KNIGHT, a rival dealer, is taking over his area. ROBE drives around looking for KNIGHT in order to warn him off. He sees KNIGHT dealing drugs on a street corner and loses his temper because KNIGHT is dealing in his area again. ROBE drives his car towards KNIGHT, intending to kill him by running him over. KNIGHT manages to jump out of the way and is uninjured, but ROBE loses control of his car and it crashes into a wall. When the police arrive, they find ROBE unconscious in his car. They search his car and find a revolver hidden in the glove box of the car.

Does ROBE commit the offence of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life (contrary to s. 16 of the Firearms Act 1968)?

  1. A No, the firearm was not the means by which KNIGHT’s life was endangered.

  2. B Yes, he had possession of a firearm at the time of endangering KNIGHT’s life.

  3. C No, because KNIGHT was uninjured as a result of the attack.

  4. D Yes, as there is no need for the firearm to be produced or shown to KNIGHT.

Answer _____________________________

2. MOSELEY is visiting his friend CHAMBERS. CHAMBERS asks MOSELEY if, on his way home, he will be passing ‘The Swan’ pub. When MOSELEY states that he will be, CHAMBERS asks MOSELEY to drop a package containing several fishing rods off to the licensee of ‘The Swan’, KILBURN. MOSELEY agrees and takes the package, which actually contains an unloaded shotgun. On his way to the pub, MOSELEY is stopped by PC FRENCH and the contents of the package are discovered.

Considering the offence under s. 19 of the Firearms Act only (having a firearm/imitation firearm in a public place), which of the following comments is correct?

  1. A This offence is ‘absolute’ and MOSELEY’s possession of the unloaded shotgun is all that is required.

  2. B MOSELEY would not commit the offence because the shotgun is unloaded.

  3. C An offence under s. 19 cannot be committed by being in possession of a shotgun, loaded or unloaded.

  4. D The offence is not committed because MOSELEY had no knowledge that the package actually contained a firearm.

Answer _____________________________

3. FOULGER is planning to burgle an office on an industrial estate and as part of his plan he drives to the road where the office is situated, parks his car and walks toward the office to make a note of the security arrangements that are in place. FOULGER always carries a Magnum 44 firearm when he is out of his house and this occasion is no exception. The gun is tucked into his trousers with FOULGER’s T-shirt pulled over the top of the firearm. The gun is not loaded. FOULGER walks around the office on the pavement making notes as he does so, but a member of staff at the office becomes suspicious of FOULGER’s behaviour and calls the police. PC NASH attends the scene and stops FOULGER in the street. The officer notices the shape of the firearm underneath FOULGER’s clothing.

Considering PC NASH’s powers under s. 47 of the Firearms Act 1968, which of the following comments is correct?

  1. A If PC NASH has reasonable cause to suspect that FOULGER has a firearm with him in a public place he may require him to hand over the firearm.

  2. B PC NASH can only use his powers under s. 47 of the Act if he reasonably believes that FOULGER has a firearm in a public place.

  3. C PC NASH can only require the firearm to be handed over if he reasonably suspects it is loaded or reasonably suspects FOULGER has ammunition for the firearm in his possession.

  4. D PC NASH cannot request that the firearm be handed over unless he reasonably suspects that FOULGER is committing or about to commit a relevant offence for the purposes of this section.

Answer _____________________________

4. NORTH and ZULFIKAR are neighbours who do not like each other. They have had several arguments about the noise NORTH makes when playing music. One afternoon NORTH is sitting on his front lawn with the doors and windows of his house wide open so he can hear his music. ZULFIKAR arrives home from work and on seeing NORTH and hearing the music he decides that he has had enough. He grabs hold of a leather case for an air rifle that he has in his car (the case has nothing in it as the air rifle is in ZULFIKAR’s house but it looks as if an air rifle is contained inside it and the words ‘Air Rifle’ are printed on the case) and approaches NORTH. Intending to make NORTH fear that violence will be used against him he holds the empty case out and says ‘You know what is in here. If you don’t turn that music off I’ll use this air rifle on you!’ NORTH laughs at ZULFIKAR as he does not believe that ZULFIKAR will do anything to him.

Considering the offence under s. 16A of the Firearms Act 1968 only, which of the following comments is correct?

  1. A The offence is not committed because NORTH does not believe that ZULFIKAR will use violence against him.

  2. B ZULFIKAR commits the offence in these circumstances.

  3. C The offence is not committed because there is nothing in the leather case that ZULFIKAR has in his possession.

  4. D The offence is not committed as although the empty case is an imitation firearm, this offence can only be committed using a firearm.

Answer _____________________________