August 2017 Review
by Gun Control Network on 13-09-2017
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 the most serious crimes are included.
Figure 1: August 2017 incident reports by type
We are aware of at least two reports in August 2017 of gun deaths:
- A 34-year-old man has died after being shot in the chest outside a petrol station in Chelmsford, Essex. Police have arrested a number of suspects.
- A 19-year-old man has died after being shot in Stratford, East London.
We are aware of at least one report in August 2017 of an inquest relating to a gun death:
- A coroner recorded a verdict of suicide in the case of a 77-year-old farmer who was found fatally wounded in a yard in Llangernyw, Conwy; his injuries were consistent with a single barrel shotgun being placed against the chest.
NB. The inquest failed to disclose whether or not the shotgun was a legally-held gun licensed to the deceased.
Armed Domestic Violence
We are aware of at least four reports in August 2017 of armed domestic violence (victim known to perpetrator):
- Firearms officers, a helicopter and negotiators attended following a report of a domestic incident involving a man with a firearm in Pancrasweek, Devon. A 24-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
- A 50-year-old man was jailed for eighteen months after admitting possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. The man threatened his neighbour in Birmingham, West Midlands after becoming enraged by noise from the flat above. Police recovered an air rifle, an air pistol and ammunition from the man’s flat.
- A 76-year-old man was sentenced to two months in jail after threatening his wife with a shotgun for which he had an out-of-date licence. During an argument at their home in Charlwood, Surrey he pointed the shotgun at his wife and threatened to blow her head off. Armed police were deployed; they arrested the man and seized three guns from the property.
- A 52-year-old man, a member of a gun club, was sentenced to ten weeks' imprisonment, suspended for twelve months and was ordered to pay his victim £100 compensation after admitting firing a pistol towards his neighbour as she attempted to retrieve her rabbit from his garden in Manchester, Greater Manchester.
Licensed Gun Owners/Legal Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least four reports in August 2017 relating to former, assumed or known to be licensed gun owners/legal guns:
- See above inquest into the death of a 77-year-old farmer in Llangernyw.
- Police have appealed for information following a robbery at a house in East Ruston, Norfolk during which a shotgun and other items were reportedly stolen.
- The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) has launched an investigation after an armed officer allegedly pointed a gun at a householder during a search in Falkirk, Scotland.
- The Independent Police Complaints Commission have begun an investigation after a 20-year-old man, who refused to put down what was believed to be a gun in Heanor, Derbyshire, was allegedly shot by armed officers who attended following initial reports of concern for a man’s welfare. The man’s condition is critical but stable.
Stolen Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least one report in August 2017 relating to a stolen gun. See Licensed Gun Owners/Legal Guns and ammunition above regarding a shotgun stolen from a house in East Ruston, Norfolk.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least seven reports in August 2017 of animal cruelty involving airguns: Three cats have died, and four have been injured in airgun attacks. These attacks took place in Carmarthenshire, Devon, Kent, Lincolnshire and North Wales.
Imitation, Airsoft, and BB guns do not currently require a licence in England or Wales. These guns are responsible for many gun injuries to both humans and animals. Airgun owners in Scotland are required to have a licence as of January 2017.
Sentences and Convictions
We are aware of at least 23 reports in August 2017 of sentences and convictions for gun crime:
- A 20-year-old man from Chelmsford, Essex has been sentenced to eighteen months in a young offender institute after pleading guilty to possession of a shotgun and ammunition without a certificate.
- A 47-year-old man has been jailed for ten years after causing life-changing injuries to his female lover when a sexual fantasy involving a shotgun in a hotel in Manchester, Greater Manchester went catastrophically wrong.
- A 39-year-old man has been jailed for 23 years after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, possession of ammunition without a certificate, possession of a prohibited weapon and conspiracy to supply class B drugs. He was convicted following a police raid on a cannabis farm at a house in Salford, Greater Manchester.
- A 30-year-old man has been found guilty of conspiring to import a firearm to his address in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire and sentenced to a hospital order after being detained under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act.
- A 23-year-old man has been jailed for sixteen months after being found guilty of possessing an air weapon with intent to cause fear of violence in Weymouth, Dorset.
- A 26-year-old man has been jailed for six years after admitting to robbery and possessing an imitation firearm. He locked staff in at a bookmaker’s shop in Birmingham, West Midlands and threatened them with the gun while he stole over £17,000.
- Five men from Luton, Bedfordshire have been jailed for a combined total of more than 83 years for attempting to bring guns into the UK. A joint surveillance operation between the Special Operations Units in East Midlands and the Eastern Region revealed the supply of three Hungarian handguns and 21 rounds of ammunition by the Luton gang to a criminal group in Leicester.
- A 19-year-old man and a 21-year-old-man, part of an organised crime group that came to Exeter, Devon to supply class A drugs, have each been jailed for 23 years after being found guilty of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, kidnap, rape of a woman, false imprisonment and the stabbing of a man.
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 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: August 2017 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 possession of 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 has published data relating to 2015 which demonstrate that over 80% of offences involving imitation firearms involved BB guns or soft air weapons.
- *From January 2017 airguns in Scotland require a licence.
- ** A ‘slaughter licence’ is required for a bolt gun.
Guns that require a licence: airguns in Scotland; shotguns; rifles; 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 does 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 misleadingly-inflated reports of handgun crime.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.