imitation firearm

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An object that has the appearance of being a firearm. Some offences, by their definition, apply to ‘imitation firearms’: e.g. the offence of possession of a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, contrary to s 16A of the Firearms Act 1968. Offences which do not include ‘imitation firearms’ by definition may nonetheless extend to them by virtue of the Firearms Act 1982, which applies the provisions of the 1968 Act (with certain exceptions) to imitation firearms which have the appearance of being, or are readily convertible into, firearms to which s 1 of the 1968 Act applies.

Section 57(4) of the 1968 Act provides that the term ‘imitation firearm’ means ‘any thing which has the appearance of being a firearm (other than such a weapon as is mentioned in section 5(1)(b) of [the] Act) whether or not it is capable of discharging any shot, bullet or other missile’. Weapons in s 5(1)(b) are one category of prohibited weapons, that is, a weapon designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas, or other thing. This means that an offence requiring ‘possession’ or ‘having with’ a firearm or imitation firearm requires a ‘thing’ which is separate and distinct from a person. Accordingly, putting a hand inside a jacket and using fingers to force out the material to give the impression of a firearm falls outside the scope of such offences, as a person's bodily parts are not a ‘thing’: R v Bentham [2005] UKHL 18.

Subjects: Law.

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