Firearms Act 1964

F26 [ Possession of firearm or ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

27A

27A. (1) It is an offence for a person to possess or control a firearm F27 [ or ammunition ] in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable inference that the person does not possess or control it for a lawful purpose, unless the person possesses or controls it for such a purpose.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on conviction on indictment

( a ) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years or such shorter term as the court may determine, subject to subsections (4) to (6) of this section or, where subsection (8) of this section applies, to that subsection, and

( b ) at the court s discretion, to a fine of such amount as the court considers appropriate.

(3) The court, in imposing sentence on a person for an offence under this section, may, in particular, have regard to whether the person has a previous conviction for an offence under the Firearms Acts 1925 to 2006 , the Offences against the State Acts 1939 to 1998 or the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005.

(4) Where a person (other than a person under the age of 18 years) is convicted of an offence under this section, the court shall, in imposing sentence, specify a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years as the minimum term of imprisonment to be served by the person.

F28 [ (4A) The purpose of subsections (5) and (6) of this section is to provide that in view of the harm caused to society by the unlawful possession and use of firearms, a court, in imposing sentence on a person (other than a person under the age of 18 years) for an offence under this section, shall specify as the minimum term of imprisonment to be served by the person a term of not less than 5 years, unless the court determines that by reason of exceptional and specific circumstances relating to the offence, or the person convicted of it, it would be unjust in all the circumstances to do so. ]

(5) Subsection (4) of this section does not apply where the court is satisfied that there are exceptional and specific circumstances relating to the offence, or the person convicted of it, which would make the minimum term unjust in all the circumstances, and for this purpose the court may F29 [ , subject to subsection (6), ] have regard to any matters it considers appropriate, including

( a ) whether the person pleaded guilty to the offence and, if so

(i) the stage at which the intention to plead guilty was indicated, and

(ii) the circumstances in which the indication was given,

and

( b ) whether the person materially assisted in the investigation of the offence.

(6) The court, in considering for the purposes of subsection (5) of this section whether a sentence of not less than 5 years imprisonment is unjust in all the circumstances, may have regard, in particular, to

( a ) whether the person convicted of the offence has a previous conviction for an offence under the Firearms Acts 1925 to 2006 , the Offences Against the State Acts 1939 to 1998 or the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005, and

( b ) whether the public interest in preventing the unlawful possession or use of firearms would be served by the imposition of a lesser sentence.

(7) Subsections (4) to (6) of this section apply and have effect only in relation to a person convicted of a first offence under this section (other than a person who falls under subsection (8)( b ) of this section), and accordingly references in those first-mentioned subsections to an offence under this section are to be construed as references to a first such offence.

(8) Where a person (except a person under the age of 18 years)

( a ) is convicted of a second or subsequent offence under this section,

( b ) is convicted of a first offence under this section and has been convicted of an offence under section 15 of the Principal Act, section 26, 27 or 27B of this Act or section 12A of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act 1990,

the court shall, in imposing sentence, specify a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years as the minimum term of imprisonment to be served by the person.

(9) Section 27C of this Act applies in relation to proceedings for an offence under this section and any minimum term of imprisonment imposed under subsection (4) or (8) of this section in those proceedings.

(10) In the application of section 2 of the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act 1976 to this section, it shall be presumed, unless the contrary is shown, that a purpose that is unlawful in the State is unlawful in Northern Ireland. ]

Annotations:

Amendments:

F26

Substituted (1.11.2006) by Criminal Justice Act 2006 (26/2006), s. 59, S.I. No. 390 of 2006.

F27

Inserted (18.05.2007) by Criminal Justice Act 2007 (29/2007), s. 38(a), S.I. No. 236 of 2007.

F28

Inserted (18.05.2007) by Criminal Justice Act 2007 (29/2007), s. 38(b), S.I. No. 236 of 2007.

F29

Inserted (18.05.2007) by Criminal Justice Act 2007 (29/2007), s. 38(c), S.I. No. 236 of 2007.

Modifications (not altering text):

C9

Declared unconstitutional: subs. (8) was declared unconstitutional (15.05.2019) by Ellis v Minister for Justice and Equality, Ireland and the Attorney General [2019] IESC 30. The judgment of Finlay Geoghegan J., para. 65, is reproduced below.

Order

65. I would allow the appeal and grant a declaration that s. 27A(8) of the Firearms Act, 1964 (as substituted by s. 59 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006) is repugnant to the Constitution.

C10

Application of section extended (1.06.1976) by Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act 1976 (14/1976), s. 2 and sch. para 11(c), S.I. No. 112 of 1976.

Offences committed in Northern Ireland and related offences committed in State.

2.—(1) Where a person does in Northern Ireland an act that, if done in the State, would constitute an offence specified in the Schedule, he shall be guilty of an offence and he shall be liable on conviction on indictment to the penalty to which he would have been liable if he had done the act in the State.

SCHEDULE

11. Any offence under the following provisions of the Firearms Act, 1964 — ...

(c) section 27A (possession of firearm or ammunition in suspicious circumstances);

...

Editorial Notes:

E21

Minimum sentence for offences under section committed under certain circumstances provided (18.05.2007) by Criminal Justice Act 2007 (29/2007), s. 25 and sch. 2 para. 5(c), S.I. No. 236 of 2007.

E22

Power of court to make monitoring and protection orders in relation to offence under this section provided (18.05.2007) by Criminal Justice Act 2007 (29/2007), s. 26 and sch. 2 para. 5(c), S.I. No. 236 of 2007.

E23

Offences under section designated serious offences (4.09.1998 and 15.05.2000) by Bail Act 1997 (16/1997), s. 1 and sch. paras. 15(c), 29 and 30, S.I. No. 315 of 1998 and S.I. No. 118 of 2000.

E24

Offence under section may be an element of terrorist activity as provided (8.07.2005) by Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 (2/2005), s. 4 and sch. 2 part 1 para. 9(f), commenced as per s. 2.

E25

Previous affecting provision: section inserted (1.06.1976) by Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act 1976 (14/1976), s. 8, S.I. No. 112 of 1976. Subs. (1) amended (1.03.1985) by Criminal Justice Act 1984 (22/1984), s. 14(4), S.I. No. 17 of 1985. Subs. (1) subsequently amended (3.09.1998) by Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 (39/1998), s. 15(2), commenced on enactment. Section substituted as per F-note above.