Longer jail terms proposed for gun crimes

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THE MAXIMUM jail terms for firearms offences are increased from five to seven years, under proposed legislation disclosed yesterday.

The penalties will apply to offences such as possessing a sawn- off shotgun, carrying a loaded firearm in a public place and shortening the barrel of a shotgun to less than 24 inches. Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, hopes the increases will cut the supply of guns used in crime.

Criminals will face a sentence of up to five years, instead of three years, for offences such as possessing a firearm or ammunition without a certificate, or buying and selling firearms when not a registered dealer. Mr Howard said: 'These changes will give the courts stronger powers to deal with the illegal use of firearms. They will also act as a powerful deterrent to those who are thinking of abusing the system.'

The new sentences will be included in amendments to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill, being considered in the House of Lords.