June 2018 Review
by Gun Control Network on 23-07-2018
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: June 2018 incident reports by type
We monitor FATAL GUN INCIDENTS in Great Britain and compile a list that summarises the available information. Our summary for 2017-18 is available at www.gun-control-network.org.
We are aware of at least two reports in June 2018 concerning gun deaths:
- A man, reportedly shot by masked men as he was sitting in a van in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, later died in hospital.
- Emergency services were called after a 21-year-old man was shot in the neck in Liverpool, Merseyside; he died later in hospital.
We are aware of at least one report in June 2018 of an inquest relating to a gun death:
- A coroner at an inquest into the death of a 47-year-old man concluded he took his own life. His body was found next to a shotgun in the garden of his home in Magdalen, Norfolk. He had suffered a gunshot wound to the head. The deceased had shot and killed his wife inside the house before taking his own life. Evidence was heard that she had been planning to leave him.
N.B. The deceased was a licensed shotgun and firearms certificate holder. The inquest report failed to include this important information.
Armed Domestic Violence
We are aware of at least one report in June 2018 of armed domestic violence (victim known to perpetrator):
- See Inquest above regarding murder/suicide at Magdalen, Norfolk.
Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least three reports in June 2018 relating to licensed gun owners/dealers/legal guns and ammunition:
- See Domestic Violence above, (victim known to perpetrator) and Inquest above relating to a murder/suicide in Magdalen, Norfolk.
- A 24-year-old man, a licensed shotgun owner, has been sent to prison for 27 months after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to cause violence. Following an argument at a property in Tipton, West Midlands, the man held up a shotgun and threatened to shoot his father, then shouted at his stepmother and stepsister. The Judge granted the destruction of the man’s two guns and a restraining order for ten years for his father, stepmother and stepsister.
- It has emerged that in September 2017, a man discharged his legally-held shotgun three times at a white van in the mistaken belief that it belonged to travellers who had allegedly subjected him to personal abuse and stolen items from his garage workshop. The vehicle was in fact occupied by two plain-clothes police officers who were shot at by the defendant and his father while they pursued the van through Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. The defendant, his father and his wife were cleared of all charges, including attempted murder, attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, dangerous driving and assisting an offender.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least sixteen reports in June 2018 of animal cruelty involving a gun:
- The bodies of several pigeons were found shot dead near a canal in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, and ten baby pigeons were rescued from unattended nests and taken to a wildlife centre.
- The bodies of seven dead gulls have been discovered in three separate incidents occurring in Glamorgan, North Yorkshire and Prestatyn.
- A male swan found dead at a nature reserve in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear had been shot with a single air rifle pellet to the abdomen and may have suffered for up to a week before dying.
- Three cats have been fatally shot in separate airgun attacks in Somerset, West Yorkshire and Cheshire.
- Seven cats have been injured in separate airgun attacks in Nottinghamshire, East Sussex, Berkshire, Scotland, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire; two were required to have a leg amputated, another had an eye removed.
- Walkers discovered the bodies of 25 geese in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire. The birds, adults and their young, had been killed with a shotgun and dumped in the River Ure. It is an offence to take or kill geese during the closed season (1st February to August 31st). Police have appealed for information.
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. Since January 2017, airgun owners in Scotland have been required to have a licence.
N.B. Gun Control Network, The RSPCA, The Cats Protection League, other organisations and individuals calling for airgun registration, including MPs and families bereaved as a result of ‘child on child’ airgun fatalities, are concerned about the delay in announcing the outcome of the Home Office review of air weapon regulation which was announced in October 2017.
Sentences and Convictions
We are aware of at least 27 reports in June 2018 of sentences and convictions for gun crime:
- A 46-year-old man has been jailed for four years after pleading guilty to possessing an air weapon with intent to cause fear of harm, and a racially-aggravated public order offence in Stockton, Durham.
- A 31-year-old man was sentenced to five years after he pleaded guilty to having two guns in his possession and to growing cannabis. When searching the man’s home in Bradford, West Yorkshire, police discovered two sawn-off shotguns, one of which had been stolen in 2014, a number of live cartridges and 40 cannabis plants.
- A 19-year-old man was sentenced to eight months’ detention in a young offenders’ institution after admitting possession of an imitation firearm with intent, and affray. A court enforcement officer who called at the man’s home in Bloxwich, West Midlands to claim goods to settle unpaid court costs and fines, was threatened with a cricket bat and with a ‘black revolver’, which was pointed at the official from an upstairs window. An unloaded air pistol was recovered at the scene.
- A 42-year-old man with an addiction to Class A drugs has been jailed for five years after admitting possession of a prohibited firearm. Following a tip-off, police discovered a sawn-off shotgun and twelve cartridges in the man’s bedsit at a hostel in Birmingham, West Midlands.
- A 32-year-old man has been handed a community order after he admitted possession of a loaded air rifle in a public place in Bath, Somerset. He was ordered to pay £320 compensation, £85 to fund victim services and £85 to the court.
- Two men, aged 29 and 34, were each sentenced to eight years in prison after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply a firearm and ammunition. Surveillance police officers who stopped and searched a taxi transporting a bag collected from one of the men’s home address in Greenford, West London, found that it contained a handgun and 137 rounds of ammunition. Detectives used mobile phone records to establish the transaction between the men, one of whom breached bail conditions and failed to attend court. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
- A 22-year-old man has been jailed for 24 years after being found guilty of attempted murder. The man shot a rival drug dealer in the head with a sawn-off shotgun causing non-life-threatening injuries. A bus driver was also hurt during the incident, which was carried out in a busy town centre street in Southport, Merseyside.
- A man has been jailed for eighteen months after pleading guilty to a number of charges. The man used a paintball gun to shoot two women who were out walking on the West Highland Way, near Carbeth, Scotland. He fired six shots from his car, hitting one woman on the hip and a second woman on her rib cage, her elbow and on the side of her face. He also fired at a third woman and three men.
- Three men have been jailed for a total of 53 years after being found guilty of a number of charges including conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and attempted grievous bodily harm. Two of the men discharged a firearm at a group of people in a play area in Whitechapel, East London. Four men suffered shotgun wounds, one being seriously injured.
- A 33-year-old man was jailed for seven years after he pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm, possession of cannabis and two counts of possession with intent to supply heroin and cocaine. Police recovered drugs, knives and a stun gun disguised as a torch when they searched a property in Banbury, Oxfordshire as part of an operation against drug-related organised crime.
- Four men have been jailed for a total of 74 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply prohibited firearms and conspiracy to sell ammunition without being registered under the Firearms Act. Three of the men were found to be travelling in a car containing two converted firearms and 25 rounds of live ammunition. A fourth man was found to have ordered eight blank-firing Glock replica pistols, to be converted to fire live ammunition and sold to criminals. The guns were imported into Birmingham, West Midlands from France.
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 imitation 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, corrupt licensed gun dealers, and/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: June 2018 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; deactivated; 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 (see above — four men jailed for a total of 74 years). 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.
*From January 2017 airgun owners in Scotland have required a licence.
** A ‘slaughter licence’ is required for a bolt gun.
Guns that require a licence: Airguns in Scotland; shotguns; rifles; police firearms/ 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 and women are particularly at risk of domestic violence involving licensed gun owners (see above Domestic Violence — murder/suicide in Magdalen, Norfolk). However, the Home Office fails to publish data regarding the number of Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition 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 guns are available without background checks. Crimes reported in the media as involving handguns are likely to involve imitations, airsoft, air pistols 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.