West Midlands Police have launched an opportunity to surrender firearms, without prosecution for possession, as new laws extend the penalty for possession to life imprisonment.
Under new legislation, the maximum penalty for illegal possession of a firearm has been increased, from 10 years, to life in prison – even if the gun is not yours.
In an attempt to get illegal weapons off the streets, West Midlands Police are offering the chance for those with illegal firearms to surrender them, anonymously if they wish.
Between 19 July and 2 August anyone surrendering a firearm – including handguns, rifles, BB guns, imitations, ammunition or antiques – at a West Midlands Police station can do so without being prosecuted for gun possession.
Antique firearm law changes
With the amended laws, anyone given a prison sentence, including suspended sentences, of three months or more is now banned from possessing antique firearms which could previously be held as a “curiosity or ornament” with a relevant certificate. These items can be surrendered under the current amnesty.
West Midlands Police Detective Inspector Andy Bannister said: “The possibility of life imprisonment for anyone found in possession of a firearm will certainly act as a powerful deterrent. And this includes anyone who may, out of misguided loyalty, be knowingly storing a gun for someone else.”
Det Insp Bannister added: “The intention is to reduce the overall availability of firearms…people can hand over weapons anonymously but the history of any live weapons surrendered will be checked for evidence of its use in crimes.
“However, someone found in possession of a firearm in public can’t simply claim they were en route to surrender the weapon. They would need to prove they had good intentions and we’ll take into account their location, the time and the manner in which the weapon was being carried. This isn’t a get out of jail free card for gun criminals.”
Gun crime falls
Gun crime has fallen dramatically over the last decade – offences fell from 24,000 nationally in 2003 to 8,135 in 2013 (according to ONS data) – whilst the number of fatal shootings in the West Midlands has also decreased.
Firearms can be surrendered, without prosecution for possession, at any West Midlands Police Station until 2nd August 2014.
If you suspect anyone to be involved in illegal firearms call West Midlands Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111