Recovered weapon undergoing analysis
What is gun crime?
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.
- a murder where the victim was shot
- any situation where a gun was fired, whether anyone was injured
- a robbery or burglary where the thieves carried a gun as a
- 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
- 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
- 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
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 tough call logo on the right.
Couldn't find what you were looking for? Find more information in our
Frequently Asked Questions
Investigating gun crime
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