In Britain, one of the tightest areas of the law concerns the control of firearms.
Without a licence, you can barely so much as look at a gun without getting into trouble. Even if you don’t break any of the laws concerning discharging them, merely having possession of a component from a gun is likely to attract a hefty sentence from the people in funny wigs.
With a licence, there are still plenty of restrictions in place about what sort of weapons you can own, where you can take them and what you’re allowed to do with them.
Assuming you’ve been granted a licence, you still can’t your shotgun to the pub with you after a long day blasting holes in grouse – you’re expected to rigidly follow the guidelines and risk having weapons confiscated if you don’t.
Considering the misery that both real and imitation firearms can cause when they fall into the wrong hands, it’s clear why these strict controls are sensible.
This month the law has been made tighter still with the maximum penalty for illegal gun possession having leapt from ten years to life in prison.
Another change is that anyone given a prison sentence, including suspended sentences, of three months or more is now banned from possessing antique firearms which could previously be held as a “curiosity or ornament” with a relevant certificate.
To help get as many firearms off the streets as we can, we’re taking part in an amnesty between July 19th and August 2nd 2014 during which people can turn over weapons without fear of being prosecuted for gun possession.
This includes guns, imitation firearms, antiques and ammunition, all of which can be turned over to any police station front office in the West Midlands.
To do so, it’s recommended that you give us a call beforehand on 101 to check opening hours and obtain advice on how best to transport a weapon or alternatively, if you’re not able to reach a station, to make arrangements for the weapon or ammunition to be collected.
Running alongside the knife surrender bins that we’ve recently unveiled in Whitmore Reans and Edgbaston, the amnesty is all part of our aim to drive down violent crime.
Writing as an officer who works on the Violent Crime Team, the last thing any of us want to do is investigate a stabbing or shooting that could have been avoided had the weapon been surrendered so please, spread the word the use this period up to August 2nd to help us make your streets safer.
P.S. Of the firearms cases I’ve dealt with recently, all of them have involved imitation firearms which I’d advise it’s a good idea to dispose of too. There’s no good reason to have them and as this person found, walking in public with an imitation handgun very nearly ended up in him being shot by our firearms officers.