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Unauthorised Possession or Use of a Firearm

Unauthorised Possession or Use of a Firearm is an offence under Section 7A of the Firearms Act 1996 which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You possessed or used a firearm, and
  2. You were not authorised to do so by a permit or licence

Section 4 of the Act provides that you are in ‘possession’ if:

  1. You have custody of the firearm, or
  2. You have it in the custody of another person, or
  3. It is in or on any premises, place, vehicle, vessel or aircraft, whether or not belonging to or occupied by you

Section 4A makes clear that possession includes where the item is in or on any premises you own, lease or occupy, or in your care, control or management, unless you satisfy the court that:

  1. It was placed in or on, or brought into or onto, the premises by or on behalf of a person who was authorised to do so, or
  2. You did not know and could not reasonably be expected to have known that it was in or on the premises, or
  3. The evidence otherwise establishes that you were not in possession of the firearm.

‘Premises’ means any place, vehicle, vessel or aircraft.

Section 4 defines a ‘firearm’ as:

A gun, or other weapon, that is or was capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosive, and includes a blank fire firearm, or an air gun, but does not include a paintball marker.

Section 4D makes clear that it includes an ‘imitation firearm’ which is an object that, regardless of its colour, weight or composition, or the presence or absence of any moveable parts, substantially duplicates in appearance a firearm, but is not a firearm. This does not include an object produced and identified as a children’s toy.

Defences to the charge include:

  1. Duress
  2. Necessity, and
  3. Self-defence

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