The importation of firearms is an increasing legal issue.
Many people purchase firearms in countries where they are quite lawful to possess. People assume that because they are lawful to possess in another country then this means that they should be lawful to possess in the UK. This often creates legal difficulties. Most commonly issues arise with stun gun type devices which not everyone realises amounts to a prohibited firearm.
A newer and more complex issue has arisen with the rise of the internet purchasing (particularly during COVID). It seems that people in the UK are going on websites based in other jurisdictions. They are purchasing firearms online in the assumption that ‘the website must know’ whether it is lawful to purchase or not.
An issue arises as many websites overseas do little to draw the purchaser’s attention to the issue.
Many parcels are intercepted by customs and the next thing people know is that they have the police knocking on their door.
The prohibition upon the importation of firearms is contained in Article 1 of the Import of Goods (Control) Order 1954 (SI 1954/23) which was made under section 1 of the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act 1939.
The Crown Prosecution Service and National Crime Agency frequently look at persons who bring firearms into the country.
CPS guidance states as follows:-
“Section 170(2) of CEMA 1979 covers the import “smuggling” offence in so far as a person knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion or attempted evasion relating to goods (namely firearms) that are subject to any “prohibition or restriction”.”
The maximum sentence for importing a Firearm contrary to CEMA is 7 years imprisonment.
A person should always consult a specialist solicitor before entering into legal proceedings over the import of firearms. It might be that with specialist advice a prosecution can be challenged or avoided.
If you have been accused of importing a firearms, our specialist firearms law team can advise you on your next steps. Please call 0845 287 0939 or contact us by email.