This Module begins by exploring how national and international firearms control regimes and criminal justice responses are closely linked to one another. The first element in a criminal justice response to firearms-related criminality is through the criminalization of specific conducts that contravene the established regulatory firearms control regime or punish the misuse of firearms in other criminal contexts. These offences refer typically to the illicit manufacture, use, possession and movement of firearms. Subsequent steps in the criminal justice response relate to the detection, investigation and prosecution of these offences, and to their contribution in enforcing the overall firearms control regime, and preventing and combating all forms of firearms criminality and related predicate offences.
There are multiple challenges faced by States relating to the criminalization of firearms offences, and their subsequent detection, investigation and prosecution, which are inherent to the complex and hidden nature of the phenomenon. These issues are addressed in this Module, as well as the role of firearms as evidence in the criminal justice system. The Module introduces the reader to several important tools and resources that can support and enhance the criminal justice response overall.
The key issues examined in the following sections of this Module are: