April 2016 Review
by Gun Control Network on 29-05-2016
GCN is committed to preventing gun violence and we work to pursue that objective through changes to the legal system, public services, and attitudes to guns. We collect and analyse data to provide all stakeholders with the evidence needed to initiate change.
GCN collects data on gun incidents and related sentences, inquests, and investigations in England, Scotland, and Wales as reported in the British media. We know our information is incomplete, though we believe nearly all of the most serious crimes are included.
Figure 1: April 2016 incident reports by type
We are aware of at least one report of a gun death in April 2016.
A 24-year-old man has died after being shot by an armed police officer on a road in South Shields, Tyne and Wear.
Armed Domestic Violence
We are aware of at least two reports of armed domestic violence in April 2016:
- John Sayers, a 25-year old man from Truro, Cornwall, with an interest in martial arts, firearms and weaponry who had previously been in the army, has been jailed for five years for multiple violent assaults on his girlfriend. She was kicked, punched and choked until she lost consciousness. Sayers also put a gun in her mouth and threatened to kill her on at least two occasions.
- Lee Manton has been given a nine-month suspended prison sentence with a two-year community order, a 30-day rehabilitation programme, and a year-long mental health treatment requirement and has been prohibited from contacting his victim for five years after he threatened the man with an axe and an air rifle in Apple-in-Westmorland, Cumbria following an on-going feud between the two men.
Licensed Gun Owners/Legal Guns
We know of at least six reports relating to licensed gun owners/legal guns in April 2016:
- A 24-year old man has died three days after being shot by an armed police officer in South Shields, Tyne and Wear.
- Harry Jones, 78, a licensed gun owner, Secretary of Tameside Gun Club, former RAF armourer, and registered gun dealer said to be a “trusted authority on weaponry” has been jailed for two years following the discovery of a massive arsenal of prohibited weapons, including nine handguns, shells, missiles, and a submachine gun, at his home in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester. The registered firearms dealer, who had a long-standing relationship with the gun licensing unit of Greater Manchester Police, had failed to pass the handguns surrendered to him on to the police, and sought to hide them in his home. He also failed to store his legally-held firearms safely, officers finding three semi-automatic .22 rifles, a deactivated machine gun, and ammunition lying on the floor of his property.
- John Robson, 71, a licensed gun owner, was handed an 18-month suspended prison sentence with 150 hours of unpaid work for keeping prohibited weapons in his locker at Tameside Gun Club where he was a member. Police found the eight machine guns illegally scavenged from WWII aeroplane crash-sites, a large quantity of submachine gun components, and armour piercing ammunition during a routine inspection at the gun club in Mossley, Greater Manchester.
- Paul Markie, 55, a gun collector who traded in antique and deactivated firearms and parts, has been jailed for five years for storing a Smith and Wesson pistol and ammunition in his locker at work in Dundee. Markie also abandoned 500 bullets in a stream where they were found by a member of the public. The discovery was made after Markie left legal gun parts on a train while travelling to meet another firearms collector.
- See item below regarding the theft of a double-barrelled shotgun.
We are aware of at least four reports from April 2016 concerning stolen guns:
- A double-barrelled shotgun left unattended on the pavement by a presumed legal gun owner unloading a car in Fulham, south-west London, has been stolen by a man who enquired about whose it was before making off with the gun.
- A deactivated rifle was stolen from the window display of an antique shop in Buxton, Derbyshire.
- An airgun has been stolen from a home in Stotfold, Bedfordshire.
- An airgun has been stolen from the home of murder victim Roy Blackman, in Biddenden, Kent.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least ten reports of animal cruelty involving guns in April 2016.
A horse has been shot in the nose with an airgun, an adult female red kite has been found with multiple shotgun injuries, eight cats have been injured in airgun attacks, and one found with forty-one shotgun pellet injuries. Two more cats have been killed and an 18-year old has been arrested in connection with the shooting of four cats with an airgun in Cranleigh and Guildford, Surrey.
Although imitations, BBs, and airguns* do not require a licence in England, Scotland, and Wales they are responsible for many gun injuries to both humans and animals.
Sentences and Convictions
We are aware of at least 47 reported sentences and convictions relating to gun crime in April 2016:
- Tarik Hassane and Suhaib Majeed, both aged 22, have been jailed for a minimum of 21 and 20 years respectively for conspiring to shoot dead soldiers, police officers and civilians in drive-by attacks in Hammersmith and Fulham west London, and obtaining an illegal pistol from suppliers Nyall Hamlett and Nathan Cuffy who were sentenced to six years and six months and 11 years respectively for providing a pistol and ammunition in Deptford, south-east London.
- Lawrence Morgan, 19, has been jailed for five years and ten months for possessing a gun and four rounds of ammunition outside a bookmakers in Birmingham, West Midlands. Morgan was also in possession of cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin at the time of the offence.
- Tyrone Henry has been jailed for seven years after being involved in a violent struggle with police in Dalston, East London, during which Henry’s nine-millimetre pistol discharged, injuring a police officer in the chest.
- Frederick Rules has been jailed for five years for attempting to rob a shop in Derby, Derbyshire with an imitation gun.
- A 17-year-old male has been jailed for three years after a loaded handgun - a converted blank firer adapted to fire live ammunition - was discovered in the car he was driving. He has also been banned from driving for two years for driving dangerously without a driving licence or insurance in Birmingham, West Midlands.
- David Stratton has been jailed for ten months for causing fear of violence to a taxi-driver following an argument about a fare in Colne, Stratton threatened the driver with an imitation gun then went inside his home and emerged with an AK-47 assault rifle which was later found to be deactivated, acquired by Stratton from a military memorabilia website.
Incidents by Weapon Type
Many incidents involve the use of airguns*, Airsoft, imitation, and BB guns which do not require a licence and may not contain ammunition, but are used by perpetrators to capitalise on the fear of victims who believe they are about to be shot. Traumatised victims are often unable to identify the weapons used. It is extremely difficult to distinguish between imitations and live-firing guns unless the weapons are fired and/or recovered, and for this reason guns involved in incidents frequently remain unidentified.
Shotguns and rifles can be legally held by those granted a licence. Ultimately, legally obtained guns in every country tend to find their way into the wrong hands, whether it’s through theft, or the failure of the licensing procedure to identify legal gun owners who pose a risk to themselves and/or others.
Please see the endnote for further explanation of gun types and current legal status.
Figure 2: April 2016 incident reports by weapon type
See Gun incidents in the UK page for details of incidents involving these gun types.
Guns that do not require a licence: Airguns* (so-called ‘low-powered’); Airsoft, ball-bearing, imitation, paintball, antique, and deactivated guns; bolt guns; and starting pistols/blank firers.
These guns are cheap, accessible, and available to buy on impulse. Moreover, lack of secure storage requirements enables theft. Many are capable of being converted into more powerful weapons. Guns deactivated to early specifications are capable of reactivation and recent more rigorous specifications are not retrospective.
There is no legal definition of ‘antique’, and although possessing antique guns is prohibited to those having served or received a criminal sentence it is unclear how this is administered during sales and transfers.
- Airsoft guns are exempt from the terms of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 and are ‘self-regulated’ by the Airsoft industry. The Home Office fails to collect data on the proliferation of airsoft skirmishing sites. The Office of National Statistics have published data relating to 2015 which demonstrates that over 80% of offences involving imitation firearms involved BB guns or soft air weapons.
- A ‘slaughter licence’ is required for a bolt gun.
- *From April 2016 airguns in Scotland are required to be licensed.
Guns that require a licence: shotguns; rifles; and police firearms and Tasers.
The inadequate licensing procedure is subsidised by taxpayers to the tune of £20 million a year. Any number of shotguns can be held on one certificate, which lasts for five years. The licensing procedure consistently fails to protect the public from licensed gun owning perpetrators. Women are particularly at risk of domestic violence involving licensed gun owners. However, the Home Office do not publish data regarding the number of licensed guns/legal gun owners involved in crime, and the status of guns used in suicides is not recorded at inquests.
Guns that are prohibited: handguns (revolvers, pistols etc.); Olympic starting pistols; Tasers; submachine guns; and ‘Other’ weapons (pepper spray/CS Gas, home-made guns and explosive devices).
Certain handguns are exempt from prohibition. Handgun, Taser, and pepper spray use is authorised for police, but there are concerns regarding fatalities and Taser training. Imitation/Airsoft-type submachine guns are available without background checks. Crimes reported in the media as involving handguns are likely to involve imitations or other guns that look like handguns, resulting in misleading inflated reports of handgun crime.
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