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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 July 2006, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Firearms - crimes and punishments
A BBC News investigation showing how decommissioned guns can be bought and reactivated has highlighted the threat that replica and deactivated firearms can pose on the streets.

The government has tightened legislation in recent years to reclassify realistic replicas alongside genuine firearms and to restrict the use of weapons capable of conversion.

Current and proposed legislation governing possession and use of firearms (with maximum penalties) includes:


Graph showing trend in recorded gun crimes in England and Wales since 1998/9
Half the 22,789 firearms offences involved air weapons
Total firearms offences fell 5%
Imitation-firearm offences rose 55%
5,358 people were injured in gun crimes
Almost half the 78 firearm deaths involved handguns
Firearms were used in just 0.4% of all crimes
44% of firearm offences ended in cautions
Source: Home Office (Eng/Wales)

Possession of firearm with intent to endanger life: Life/unlimited fine

Possessing or distributing prohibited weapon or ammunition: 10 years/unlimited fine (min: five years)

Prohibited firearms: Machine guns, sub-machine guns, most self-loading rifles, short-barrelled "assault shotguns" and stun guns

Licensable firearms and shotguns: Include most hunting and target-shooting high-powered air rifles and muzzle-loading pistols, and most long-barrelled shotguns used for vermin control and recreational shooting


A real Ingram submachine gun and its replica cousin (right)
Police are concerned at how realistic replica guns are

Carrying firearm or imitation with intent to commit indictable offence: Life/unlimited fine

Carrying imitation in public place: Being extended from six to 12 months in Violent Crime Reduction Bill

Selling imitation firearm to person under 18: To become offence under Violent Crime Reduction Bill, currently before the House of Lords

Manufacture/import/sell realistic imitations: The bill also seeks to make these offences


Converting a firearm/shortening a shotgun: Seven years/unlimited fine

Possession of a replica rifle capable of conversion to fire live ammunition: Regarded as a genuine firearm and requires relevant certificate


Graph showing number of injuries caused by gun crime in England and Wales from 1998/9 to 2004/5

Possession of self-contained air cartridge gun without certificate: 10 years (min: five years)

Carrying an imitation or air gun in public: Now an offence to do so without lawful authority or reasonable excuse

Manufacture/sell/purchase/ transfer/acquire weapon using self-contained gas cartridge system: Now an offence


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