Information on age restrictions for the possession of firearms, shotguns and airguns by under-18-year-olds, including those guns as a gift.
What you need to know about the Firearms Act 2023
The Firearms Act 2023 received Royal Assent in September 2023, confirming it as new legislation.
The Act has raised some concerns from the shooting sector regarding the possession of ammunition components with the intent to illegally manufacture Section 1 ammunition.
BASC’s view is that legitimate shooters, and those that reload their own ammunition, have nothing to fear from this legislation.
The key factor is the word ‘intends’ in the Act. In law, intent has a specific meaning. It is defined in Section 8 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967, as follows:
Section 8 – proof of criminal intent
A court or jury, in determining whether a person has committed an offence,
- (a) shall not be bound in law to infer that he intended or foresaw a result of his actions by reason only of its being a natural and probable consequence of those actions; but
- (b) shall decide whether he did intend or foresee that result by reference to all the evidence, drawing such inferences from the evidence as appear proper in the circumstances.
Burden of proof
The burden of proof is very high. A jury would have to accept beyond a reasonable doubt that a person held ammunition components for nefarious purposes.
On the flip side, someone with ammunition components for considerably more ammunition than their certificate permitted can easily reference that this is common practice, as components are often sold in large quantities. Similarly, if one had components from a calibre previously owned, there would be no issue.
The Act is aimed at criminals who have ammunition components with a very obvious intention to utilise them for criminal activities and no other plausible explanation. This was clearly the case with individuals who possessed obsolete calibre handguns with all the components to manufacture the ammunition for use with them. As the law originally stood, there was no offence with which they could be charged.
If you are a BASC member and you believe that you have evidence of the misuse of the legislation, please contact BASC’s firearms department immediately.