INCIDENTS AND OTHER CONCERNS RAISED BY GCN
Kent, 1 March 2013
"Whilst jogging along the
footpath during the early evening my son was shot in left thigh with what we
later discovered was an airgun.
He did not see or hear the offender. He was not aware at first as to what
had taken place or the serious nature of it. He heard what we now believe to
be the discharge or the air weapon and almost at the same time felt the pain
in his thigh. It was not until he returned home that he saw the hole in his
thigh, there was bleeding, the pellet could not be seen and we were not sure
if it was still in his thigh.
He was taken to the local Accident and Emergency centre where an X ray
confirmed the projectile was still in the thigh. Antibiotics and pain
killers were provided and the need for an operation to remove the pellet was
confirmed. He was kept in hospital for 15 hours on the first visit. The
operation could not be performed straight away and he had to return three
When he did return, the operation took place under general anaesthetic. Pain
killers were once again provided and were taken for several days following
the operation. At some point he will be required to return to see the
Initially there was disbelief that someone would take a deliberate shot at a
human being with an air weapon. The fact he was one of two persons targeted
that evening tends to suggest it was not random. In the initial stages it
was viewed as a minor injury which is far from the case, this was brought
home to us when discussing the matter with the surgeon. He was lucky it was
in his thigh, there remained however the risk of infection and the
possibility of a blood clot, both of which could have serious consequences.
Whilst the hole caused by the pellet was reasonably small, the scar left by
the operation is considerably larger. In part is this caused in locating the
pellet and the need to remove any damaged tissue.
Shock was quite slow to set in and took several days. Since the incident
there has been a loss of confidence and a degree of anxiety. There is
certainly a great deal of anger. We have always considered ourselves lucky
in that we live in a good neighbourhood. Our views in this respect have
changed considerably and we no longer feel as safe as we used to. Every time
we go past the location we are on the lookout.
Whilst not as important, several days have had to be taken off work to allow
the wound to heal properly."
We thank this family for sharing
their experience with us. We send our good wishes to their son and wish him
a full recovery and no long term consequences.
The vast majority of air weapons being
used in the UK are 'low-powered' and do not require a licence. Despite their
so called 'low-power' we are aware of the deaths of many children and
several adults as a result of air weapon injuries. See
They are the weapon of choice for criminals, cheap and easy to buy for
anyone claiming to be over 18 and requiring no background checks.
Individuals whose guns have been confiscated and destroyed by courts
following convictions, those who have served prison sentences for crimes
including gun crime, violent criminals, perpetrators of domestic violence
and those suffering from mental illness, can and do buy and use air weapons.
The criminal use of air weapons costs the UK public many thousands of pounds
each year in medical care, police time, court time, disruption, loss of
working hours, property repairs, disruption to public services, public
transport disruption, vet bills, pain and suffering. Members of the public
are injured when those using air weapons in gardens fail to ensure the
safety of others in nearby gardens and we are aware of many serious
neighbour disputes caused by air weapon use on domestic premises.
The Scottish Government are currently making preparations for the
introduction of licensing legislation for air weapons. Gun Control Network
welcomes this and is working towards bring about licensing for all air
weapons throughout England and Wales and banning their use on domestic
Those requiring an air weapon for legitimate pest control purposes would
require a licence in the same way as those using shotguns for pest control
etc. and we believe all responsible air weapons owners would welcome this in
the interests of public safety.
15 February 2008
correspondent from Rushden in Northamptonshire has written to us
about an air rifle attack on her cat:
February, our 6 yr old cat was shot by an air rifle in Rushden. She
now has a pellet embedded in her rear leg which cannot be removed. The
distress and suffering caused has been terrible, and will affect her for
the rest of her life. The police are investigating the incident, but are
not hopeful of a resolution. Even if people are not concerned about animal
cruelty, I feel they should be concerned about the probability of such
Read more first-hand
stories from cat owners whose pets fell victim to air gun attacks
London, 20 March 2007
Another example, provided by a
correspondent from London, of the selfish attitude of an airgun
user who has no regard for his neighbours’ legitimate concerns about the
dangers involved in shooting in gardens in built up areas. Sadly it has
been met with a further instance of an inadequate response from the
police, who apparently give more weight to a shooter’s wishes than the
public’s need to feel safe.
“A few months ago a man
moved into our street and began using his back garden for target
practice with an airgun. The boundary walls are low and everyone’s
backdoors and windows are just a few feet away from one another. His
target practice sometimes takes place at night and has involved
switching on his garden spotlights at 1 a.m.
“He is shooting pigeons and
some of them are falling into neighbouring gardens leaving the
neighbours to dispose of the carcasses. The police have been called a
number of times but say he has a licence for his firearms, is a
responsible gun owner and experienced hunter, and he is only using an
airgun to shoot the pigeons. They have asked me not to tell them anymore
if he discharges his airgun or any of his weapons in his garden since he
is not doing anything wrong as long as he fires within his own garden
walls. However, we feel that although he may be firing within his walls
he would have to be aiming outside the walls to shoot the pigeons.”
The neighbours have tried to
complain to the local authority and have asked the RSPCA to investigate,
with little success to date. This has left them feeling nervous and
vulnerable when they are by their back windows and in their gardens. “We
do not want him to start firing while we are out back and we do not want
to have pigeons falling on us in the summer months.” One couple have
decided that they must keep their cats indoors.
It is totally inappropriate
that one airgun user can leave his neighbours feeling so exposed, and the
police should have a duty to give the safety of the public a higher
priority than this, not least at a time when Government and senior police
officers have been focusing on the dangers posed by guns. It is not an
adequate response simply to try and reassure neighbours that they should
put their trust in a man who wants to fire guns at night, and has no
regard for what happens to the pigeons he kills, simply because he is an
ex-soldier or an experienced hunter.
GCN notes that our
correspondent has been told by police that the man has a licence for some
firearms, suggesting that he has weapons other than low-powered airguns.
However, weapons that require a licence should never be fired in these
circumstances. A better explanation to the local community must be
provided by the police.
South Yorkshire, 15 February 2007
Over the years Gun
Control Network has been contacted by a number of parents whose
children have been killed or seriously injured as a result of the
misuse of airguns. This latest communication provides
another reminder of the terrible consequences that can result
from the irresponsible use of these dangerous weapons. Julie
writes from South Yorkshire:
"My son was shot in the
back in September 2005 while out riding his motor bike by Scott
Dowse who was out with an airgun, the gun was never found to
this day. Scott was ordered to serve just nine months in prison
because of his age at the time of the accident, he was 17.
This is not good enough as my son Mark has been left a tetraplegic
who needs a ventilator to breathe and has limited movement, all
because guns are so easy to buy. My son has a life sentence
and is still in a spinal unit until our house is adapted and Scott
is let out in March. Where is the justice in law?"
Why is it that airguns
continue to be treated as if they differ from other firearms?
They too have the potential to maim and kill and should be treated
in exactly the same way as other Section 1 firearms with respect to
both licensing and registration and to the penalties that should
face anyone who misuses them.
Doncaster Today for the latest on
Post, 2 January 2002
men were shot in the reception area of a pub in Speke.
All three received injuries to their legs. Up to four men were
involved, and between four and six shots were discharged before they
escaped in a car."
correspondent has written to us about the above incident. He
was one of the victims and is keen to ensure that those responsible
for gun crime are made aware of the damage their actions cause.
Five years after he was shot, on News Years Eve 2001, he is still
badly affected by the experience.
was a friend of the doorman of the pub where the shooting occurred
and was just standing there. He was shot three times (once in
the stomach and foot, but most of the damage was done by the bullet
that entered his leg). He was operated on for 16 hours and now
has several pins in his femur. He continues to suffer as a
result of the shooting. Although he works full time, has a
family and home he still finds life very hard because of flash
Hythe, November 2006
We have received a letter from a correspondent who raises
some very worrying issues about what happens to a deadly legacy when a gun
owner dies. Here is part of what she wrote:
"My partner recently passed away. He had a vast collection of firearms at
his home, there were shotguns, rifles, pistols, revolvers, handguns (pump
action shotgun) & antique guns etc. And I have never seen so much
ammunition! There were between 30/40 guns, some legal some not (I was
told). His brother-in-law and nephew took all the firearms from his house
for safe keeping as they said I would be in serious trouble if I had
possession of any of them and shouldn't leave them in an empty house as I
didn't have a licence and he'd sort them all out at a later date
"I was stupid enough to trust these people, I know the
whereabouts of 7 of the shotguns and I gave permission for him to sell about
6 of the shotguns. When I enquired where all the rest of the guns were they
told my solicitor they had sold the lot, this includes the illegal ones I
presume. I have made repeated requests for the name of the person they sold
them to and for the receipts and lists etc, they have not responded to date.
"I informed my local police as I was responsible for all the guns and wanted
to make sure that they have not got into the wrong hands. I thought they
would be safe with the brother-in-law at the time and I thought they were
helping me, I was in shock at just losing my partner and they just took
"The police said they would make enquiries but I have heard nothing since
August. The police seem to think it is a civil matter!! Which I find
unbelievable, I have gone to them reporting all these missing firearms, I
did not give my permission for them to all be sold, just for them to hold on
to until such time they could be gone through properly as there was so many.
"Why can't the police at least find out who they were sold to and let me
know? I feel so responsible, I don't know how I allowed this to happen and
for my own peace of mind I really do want to know where all those guns are.
Surely the police have the powers to trace them? Or demand to see the
receipts etc? Do I have to wait until something serious happens? Why is no
GCN is certainly concerned about the issues raised here. The lack
of activity by the police is extremely worrying.
If the guns are legal then appropriate processes should be
followed and our correspondent's solicitor was surely obliged to advise her
on these. However, it sounds as though some of the weapons are illegal
in the UK, and whether they've been sold by relatives or held in 'safe keeping'
by them, they are still illegally held, and whoever the 'keepers' are
they're liable to prosecution. The police too have a duty to
investigate this thoroughly.
We have suggested that it is important for our correspondent
to write a letter to her Chief Constable giving him:-
1. details of the missing weapons,
2. the name and address of her partner's brother in law and nephew
3. the address from where the firearms were removed
4. the dates they were removed
5. the date you first contacted the Police, and asking to know the outcome
of his investigations.
We will be following up this case. We have no idea what
has happened to the guns but our correspondent is right to be worried that
the guns, legal or illegal, could have fallen into the wrong hands and the
police appear to have shown little concern.
Henley-on-Thames, 3 November 2006
A mother from Oxfordshire wrote to us because we
had not seen a report about her son's shooting with an
air rifle. We have now
added the incident to the list
for April 2006. The incident was another serious
airgun incident involving a young teenager, and we believe it is important to
provide more details. We also consider it important to highlight the
continuing complacency shown towards these potentially lethal weapons.
The victim was shot by another boy (both were aged 13) whose parent was in
the house at the time and had allowed him to have the gun (it was a gift
three weeks before). The boy thought it would
be fun to threaten the victim before shooting. The shot boy's mother
was told that he would not survive, but fortunately some of the pellet was
removed from the his brain during emergency brain surgery. Most of the
embedded further into his skull. CPS decided that although they noted
that the shooting was not an accident and that it passed the evidential test
that they would not take the boy to court but gave him a "Final Warning".
They said that it did not pass the public interest criteria. The
police have had nothing to say.
Also see Letters
sent to MPs by parents of other young airgun victims.
Keswick, October 2006
A correspondent wrote to us expressing
concern about a shop in Keswick, Cumbria, that sells toys on the
ground floor and fishing rods and rifles on the upper floor. Whilst
recognising that this is legal, she points out that only a scruffy notice
deterred unaccompanied children from going upstairs. She writes
"surely the very fact that children see toys and guns being sold in the same
shop must send out the wrong sort of message".
Stoke-on-Trent, 19 June 2006
Three pellets were fired into a new
van as our correspondent was driving down a road in the Stoke-on-Trent
area. Had the passenger window been open he thinks his wife would have
been injured. He believes that the three pellets hit the van so
quickly that three different air rifles
Derby, 18 May 2006
A correspondent wrote to ask if GCN
had heard of any shooting incidents in the Derby area. Her
father's car had the rear window shot out on 10 May as he travelled home
from work. A bullet hole was found in the back seat head rest.
The matter was reported to the police but nothing was done and no officer
had come to see the family.
Kirkcaldy, 26 May 2006
We were contacted by the daughter of a
man who died from a shotgun wound to the head at an activity centre in 2004.
Here is her account of what happened.
Fatal Accident Inquiry into Death
at Shooting Range
"A fatal accident inquiry is set to
take place at Sheriff Courthouse, Whytecauseway, Kirkcaldy on the 20-22 June
2006 to investigate the death of JM, aged 57, who died from a shotgun wound
to the head in 2004 at Cluny Clays Activity Centre in Kirkcaldy, Fife.
"JM died on the 2nd November 2004
after visiting the Activity Centre whilst suffering from severe depression.
Despite having had his gun licence revoked by the police several months
prior to shooting himself at the range, he was given access to a shotgun
without any proof of identity.
"JM left home at 3.30 pm on the 2nd
November 2004, yet he was not declared dead until 7.12 pm. He would
have died between 3.45 and 7.12 pm (coroner's report). It is feared
that during this time there was scope for others to be injured or for the
gun to be taken off the premises.
"Cluny Clays Activity Centre sells
family tickets and offers to host children's parties."
The fatal accident inquiry is taking
place in August (see Incidents).
Cardiff, 17 May 2006
We received a message from a concerned
mother with a disabled daughter in St Mellons, Cardiff, who has
experienced anti-social behaviour outside her home. She described how
a youth, aged about 18, had a gun in close proximity to her house.
She had reported the same youth with a gun a month or so earlier. On
the second occasion he was heard to ask other youths whether anyone wanted
to buy it and fired it (this was video taped by our correspondent).
Although it was reported to the police nothing was done. They did
decide it was a BB gun but it is now
being described as a toy gun. Our correspondent believed, correctly,
that it is an offence to brandish a gun in a public place but no action has
been taken. Her local councillor was totally aware of the gun
incidents but he had not returned her call. She has also written to
the Chief Constable but had not received a reply. Only her A.M. had
responded. Her experience raises concerns about the degree of
seriousness with which some authorities treat the brandishing of weapons on
INCIDENTS INVOLVING ANIMALS
Lincolnshire, June 2007
A correspondent from a village
three miles outside Lincoln has written to tell us how her cat was
shot with an airgun in January this year
and died three days later from the severity of his injuries. A pellet
had passed through his internal organs. This occurred two months after
a cat living at the other end of the village had also been killed when it
was shot in the head with an airgun. The police have a suspect for
both shootings, the same person, but are hampered in what they can do to
arrest him. Since our correspondent's cat was killed there have been
other shootings in the area, one in a village on the other side of Lincoln
and one in Lincoln itself where the owner lost two cats on the same day to
The message arrived within days
of warnings from the RSPCA and Scottish SPCA that airgun attacks on animals
are on the increase in a number of regions (see
June 2007 Incidents).
Essex, February 2007
In June 2006 a correspondent wrote to us describing
how her cat had been shot and killed with an airgun
(see Personal Accounts 2006).
Since then a weapon has been seized from a neighbour and shown to match the
pellet recovered from the cat. The air weapon was found to be over the
legal power limit. The man was arrested and charged with possession of
a firearm without certificate and causing unnecessary suffering of an
animal. He pleaded guilty to the possession charge and the case was
being referring back to magistrates to determine the outcome of the animal
cruelty offence. It will then be returned to the Crown Court for
sentencing. Our correspondent encourages people to report and pursue
A correspondent has written to
GCN about her cat Sheba who was shot with an air rifle in the vicinity of
her house. The family had heard a shot at the back of the house and
half an hour later the cat was found lying outside the backdoor.
"She just looked at me and
meowed but couldn't get up. Being long haired, she was in a right
mess, it was raining and she'd obviously been lying there since we'd heard the shot. We
immediately brought her in and while I was trying to keep her warm in towels
etc. My partner was speaking to the emergency vet who told us to
bring her straight away. When she was examined, a hole was found in her
left side, her breathing was shallow and she was very weak. The vets said
they'd go ahead and X-ray to confirm the pellet with my permission and
continue any treatment if I wanted them to."
"She was X-rayed and it was confirmed she had a pellet in her chest that
had gone in one side, through her ribs and lungs to the other side where it
had shattered one of her ribs and narrowly missing her heart. She was kept
under observation, given oxygen and a tight compress was put over the wound
because her chest cavity was filling with air causing her to struggle
After a worrying few days Sheba
was finally able to go home but has had difficulty eating. The vets
bills for the treatment have already reached £450 and are rising.
The pellet has been recovered
and the family have been in contact with the police urging them to
investigate. Our correspondent understands that
if an animal has been seriously injured or
killed and there is a suspect then the police should follow it up whether
there is proof or not. She is
certain she knows who is responsible. The RSPCA also know about the
incident and the local paper has been informed. She has carefully
recorded what has happened in a daily log, and we hope that there will be
enough evidence to ensure that the culprit is brought to book for his
Judging from the reports of cats
being shot with airguns we are aware that our correspondent's
experiences have been shared by too many others. Shooting animals with
an airgun like this is an act of cruelty. It also causes great
distress to a pets' owners. There is also a further dimension.
Our correspondent and her partner have two young children and not
surprisingly she is now concerned for their safety in the vicinity of
someone who is prepared to misuse an air rifle.
Willingale, Essex, 30 August 2006
We were contacted by a correspondent
about an incident in which a domestic cat had its front leg shot off by
lampers on a truck using a high powered .22 rifle on farmland next to houses
in Willingale. The lampers are causing great alarm among
residents and are not being policed at all.
Essex, 16 June 2006 *
A correspondent wrote to us describing
how her cat had been shot recently with an airgun. The cat could not
survive the injuries. Her vet commented that in 30 years of practice he
had never seen such severe injuries from an airgun
pellet. It had penetrated his lung, diaphragm, liver,
spleen, both kidneys and several parts of the bowel. The police have
seized a weapon from the person suspected and are working with the RSPCA to
pursue a prosecution. See
Personal Accounts 2007 for an Update).
Kensal Green, London, April
Letter from a correspondent:
"In early February my cat was shot in the leg with an airgun by my
neighbour. The shot broke both bones of her foreleg, leaving the pellet
lodged in the bone. She underwent an operation and an external metal rod was
fitted; she was in a full leg cast for six weeks and now faces a long and
painful recovery. This incident has damaged my cat for life and caused a
huge amount of trauma, stress, and anxiety (as well as expense) for myself.
"This man has been seen shooting and killing squirrels in his back garden and
he has also half-blinded a neighbourhood cat by shooting it through the eye.
I'm now certain that a dead magpie found in my garden a few months ago,
whose cause of death mystified me at the time, was another unlucky victim of
his target practice.
"I reported the incident to the police and gave them the pellet removed from
my cat's leg. They finally went to talk to my neighbour and confiscated his
airgun; both gun and pellet will be sent for forensic analysis to see
whether the two can be linked. Originally I was told by the police that if
the two can be linked they could criminally prosecute him; however I was
told today that the CPS have looked at the case and decided he can't be
criminally convicted because a cat doesn't count as my property. Instead the
case will then pass to an RSPCA inspector who will look into the matter as a
case of animal cruelty, and I could then pursue a civil suit.
"I am galled by the fact that the lax gun laws do not allow the police to
prosecute this man. That, and the fact that the CPS have ruled that my cat
doesn't count as a personal possession, means that I have no recourse in law
to seeing this man punished and having him compensate me for at least my
financial costs (£2,000 for vets bills and associated costs).
"It's clear that the only solution to this kind of wicked and irresponsible
behaviour is a complete ban on airguns in a city or
populated area. These guns are not kids' toys but potentially lethal weapons
that cause thousands of injuries each year (both to people and animals), as
well as untold cases of animal cruelty and death. The current law that
allows people to shoot guns in their own back gardens gives them virtually a
free hand to do what they like, especially if they know they can't be
prosecuted for injuring or killing someone's pets.
"Guns of whatever kind have no place in a civilized society. The government
seems very keen on helping communities feel safe, but I don't see them
addressing this problem -- which is all the more rampant because the
perpetrators can carry out their acts of cruelty with impunity in the eyes
of the law."
If you have had similar experiences please let us know. GCN is
campaigning for tighter controls over the ownership and use of airguns.