Gun crime still makes up a small percentage of all crimes committed. To tackle gun crime, sentences for people convicted of crimes involving a gun have been made a lot tougher.
Anyone who is found guilty of possessing an illegal firearm faces a minimum sentence of five years. Also, you now have to be at least 17 years old before you can possess an air rifle.
It's also now illegal to sell realistic imitation guns, even if they can't be turned into weapons that fire real ammunition. Gun crime includes any crime that involves the use of a gun or firearm. This includes:
- a murder where the victim was shot
- any situation where a gun was fired, whether anyone was injured or not
- a robbery or burglary where the thieves carried a gun as a weapon
- intimidating people with a firearm
- carrying a gun that is banned, like a handgun
- carrying or using an imitation gun
- hiding a gun or keeping it for someone else
- owning a gun without a licence
Advice and support
When guns are involved, any crime becomes far more serious and far more dangerous. It is in everyone's interests to stop guns being brought illegally into their neighbourhood.
- If you suspect that someone is carrying a gun, do not approach them. Even if you think the weapon may be a replica, take the situation seriously and report it.
- Never carry a replica gun in public. There have been tragic incidents in the past where police officers have assumed that a weapon is real, and have responded accordingly.
- All air guns are legally firearms. It is illegal to carry them, even unloaded, in a public place without authority or good reason. There are age limits for owning and using air guns, and anyone who has a criminal conviction that bars them from owning a firearm is also barred from owning or using an air gun.
- Air guns with a self-contained gas cartridge system are now banned. It is illegal to buy or sell them.
- You're more likely to be a victim of gun crime if you carry a gun yourself.
- When any firearm or shotgun licence is being issued or renewed, the police must be absolutely satisfied that the applicant is a fit person to own the weapon and will not be a danger or nuisance to the public.
- Firearms certificates cover all firearms except shotguns. A separate licence is required for each individual weapon. A single shotgun license covers an unlimited number of shotguns.
- It is an absolute condition of either type of licence that all guns and ammunition must be stored in a secure place, and that it is impossible for unauthorised people to gain access to them.
How to report gun crime
If you see someone with a gun in a public place, call 999 but do so without drawing attention to yourself.
If you believe that someone has a gun without a licence, even if they are looking after it for someone else, you should notify the police by calling 101.
If you want to stay anonymous, call Crimestoppers, a national charity who will pass on your information without taking any of your personal details.
If you believe that someone who holds a licensed shotgun or firearm certificate is using or storing their guns irresponsibly or without the right level of security call 101, or ring Crimestoppers if you want to make the report anonymously.
It's a tough call walking away from gun crime. For more on how guns destroy lives click on the link below.