S.19 Firearms Act 1968 makes it an offence for a person, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, to have with him in a public place, a loaded shotgun, an air weapon, whether loaded or not, or any other firearm together with ammunition for use in that firearm.Â The fact that the firearm is covered by a certificate will not necessarily provide a defence.Â Compliance with the conditions on the certificate is imperative.
S.20(2) Firearms Act 1968 makes it an offence for a person, without reasonable excuse, to enter any land as a trespasser while he has a firearm in his possession.Â This applies to any firearm, including an air rifle, and the fact that the firearm is covered by a certificate is immaterial.Â Having the permission of the landowner or occupier, before taking guns on to any land, is imperative.
Offences under the Firearms Act 1968, except for technical matters, almost always attract prison sentences nowadays although to date none of Knightsâ€™ clients have been imprisoned for them, although we have had a couple of very near misses in the last year or so.
S.161(2)(b) Highways Act 1980 makes it an offence to discharge a firearm within 50 feet of the centre of a highway, without lawful authority or excuse, in consequence of which a user
of the highway is injured, interrupted or endangered.Â The offence, punishable by a fine of up to Â£1,000, does not apply to footpaths and bridleways.
Section 12 Licensing Act 1872 makes it an offence to be drunk in possession of any loaded firearm, punishable by a fine or up to one monthâ€™s imprisonment.Â For these purposes, blood alcohol level is not the determinative factor; the question is whether the person can be shown to be drunk by means of his behaviour and general appearance of intoxication.Â The reason for this anomaly, of course, is that this legislation pre-dates modern diagnostic methods.
This concludes The Legal Series, by Matthew Knight, a Senior Partner of Knights Solicitors. We’d love to hear your feedback on this series, and what you’d like to read about next. Get in touch and let us know! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org