Finbarr Kelly, 36, of Antrim Road in north Belfast, was spared a two years in jail after a judge said the defendant was needed at home to look after his severely disabled teenage son.
However, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland jailed co-accused John Joseph McNally, 47, of Oisin House, Victoria Parade, Belfast, for 11 months.
The two defendants pleaded guilty to having an imitation firearm, namely a pellet-type weapon, with intent to cause fear of violence.
Father-of-three Kelly also pleaded guilty to possessing articles likely to be of use to terrorists, namely a statement on behalf of the leadership of a group calling itself "Community Action Against Drugs'.
Belfast Crown Court heard that on 30 August 2012 following a tip-off, police stopped a Renault Scenic car in the north of the city. McNally was driving while Kelly was the front seat passenger.
"During a search of the car, police recovered a firearm under the front passenger seat," said a prosecution lawyer.
"Police also found two pairs of gardening gloves along with two balaclavas in the car.
"A baseball bat and a claw hammer were found in the boot of the car."
Some of our communities are terrorised by those who purport to be their protectors. We will do everything we can to ensure such criminals do not succeed. We would encourage everyone to work with us to ensure the rule of law is upheld and the threat of violence is reduced.
PSNI Serious Crime spokesperson
The court was told that during a follow up operation, police searched Kelly's Antrim Road home and found a statement purporting to be on behalf of the leadership of 'Community Action Against Drugs'.
The document focused on drug dealers and drug dealing gangs operating in the north Belfast area.
"It referred to drug dealers and states those who seek to benefit from the destruction of their families, friends and the wider community will be executed, exiled and their businesses targeted and destroyed."
Judge McFarland was told that 18 fingerprint marks were found on the document belonging to Kelly and the lawyer said Kelly had either "written the document or had held the document".
The lawyer said that Kelly's DNA was found on the imitation firearm.
A defence barrister for Kelly said that the three weeks he spent on remand after his arrest were "enough for him" and he had no intention of going back to prison.
The lawyer said that Kelly was the father of a 14-year-old son who suffered from severe disabilities and he was needed at home to help care with his son.
A defence barrister for McNally said he pleaded guilty to having the firearm but there was no DNA linking him to the document.
The lawyer said that although McNally had a significant criminal record, most of it was dealt with in the Magistrates' Court, including a conviction for rioting.
"His remand in custody for these offences is the first time he has ever been to prison and he does not want to return there," he added.
Judge David McFarland said there was clearly and a "paramilitary overtone" to the case.
"It was clear that on this day you were going to scare someone or put them in fear."
The judge said that he had carefully considered the case of Kelly and his role in caring for his teenage son.
"In all the circumstances I have decided I am going to suspend you prison sentence."
The Belfast Recorder sentenced Kelly to two years in prison on both accounts suspended for two years.
The judge sentenced McNally to 22 months in prison, with half to be spent in custody and the remainder on licence following his release.