March 2018 Review
by Gun Control Network on 16-04-2018
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: March 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 the year March 2017 — April 2018 is attached, and also available at http://www.gun-control-network.org
We are aware of at least seven reports in March 2018 concerning eight gun deaths:
- Paramedics attended after a man was found with a gunshot wound to the chest in Coventry, West Midlands. The 28-year-old victim died at the scene. Police later arrested two men on suspicion of conspiracy to murder.
- Police have appealed for information after a 26-year-old man was shot dead as he got out of a car near his family home in Hackney, London.
- Emergency Services attended after a man’s body was found in a churchyard on the outskirts of Herne Bay, Kent. A firearm was found at the scene. The man, in his 50s, is believed to have taken his own life.
- Firearms officers attended after two women, aged 53 and 32, were shot and killed at a house in St Leonards, East Sussex. It is believed a man fired at them through a window. Police arrested a 35-year-old man, believed to have known the victims.
- A 20-year-old man has died after being shot in Walthamstow, East London. Police officers and medics attended but the victim was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
- Armed police attended following reports that a 19-year-old male had been shot in Wood Green, North London. Emergency services found the victim with a serious gunshot injury and he died in hospital shortly afterwards.
- A 31-year-old man has died after reportedly suffering a gunshot wound at an address in Birmingham, West Midlands. The victim died in hospital the following day. Two men have been arrested in connection with the incident.
We are aware of at least two reports in March 2018 of inquests relating to gun deaths:
- A coroner at an inquest into the death of 54-year-old man who was found dead with a shotgun at his home in Midhurst, West Sussex, recorded a verdict of suicide. The man is reported to have been given a gun and ammunition by his girlfriend who allegedly believed he had a licence.
- A coroner at an inquest into the death of a 69-year-old man who was found dead with a gun nearby at his home address in Brentwood, Essex, recorded that the man intended to take his own life. N.B. The inquest failed to reveal whether or not the gun was legally held by the deceased.
Armed Domestic Violence
We are aware of at least seven reports in March 2018 of armed domestic violence (victim known to perpetrator):
- See above Gun Deaths, two women shot and killed by a man known to them.
- A man has been sentenced to seventeen years in prison after pleading guilty to false imprisonment, possessing an imitation firearm, possessing a sawn-off decommissioned shotgun with intent to cause fear of violence, and other offences, relating to a four-hour hostage situation in a bowling alley in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
- A 54-year-old man has been jailed for three years after admitting to possession of an unlicensed shotgun with intent to cause fear of violence. He had been drinking heavily when he abused and struck his partner at their home in Amlwch in Anglesey and pointed the gun at her while issuing threats to kill.
- A 21-year-old man has been convicted of possessing a semi-automatic pistol and other charges after pointing a loaded gun at his ex-girlfriend’s face when she came to his house in East Tuddenham, Norfolk to collect her belongings. When her mother tried to intervene, he pointed the gun at both women.
- Police attended following a report of a firearms discharge at a domestic incident in Hull, Yorkshire. A male suspect was arrested after a police helicopter with a thermal imaging camera detected him hiding under a bed.
- A man was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence and 25 days rehabilitation after he admitted possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. The man pointed an air rifle at his ex-wife after an argument over a shared bathroom in a house in Alkborough, North Lincolnshire where they lived separately following a divorce.
Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least eight reports in March 2018 relating to licensed gun owners/dealers/legal guns and ammunition:
- See above Gun Deaths, two women shot by a man known to them. (Gun reportedly taken from a gun club).
- Armed police searching for a missing suspect at a property in Maldon, Essex, mistakenly aimed their guns at a couple in a nearby house.
- A 70-year-old man, a licensed shogun owner, has been fined £650 after admitting possession of rifle ammunition without a firearms certificate. Police officers visiting his home in Dundee, Scotland on an unrelated matter spotted the .22 rifle cartridges in the house. The man had no entitlement to possess rifle cartridges and claimed that someone had given him the ammunition and he had not got around to destroying it.
- A gang of masked men allegedly burst into a house in Reading, Berkshire and threatened a man and his seven-year-old son with knives and hammers before stealing valuables and a shotgun.
- The Independent Office for Police Conduct is currently investigating two incidents: A complaint about the use of force after a detaining officer discharged a Taser as a man was detained in Birmingham, West Midlands and an incident during which six armed officers opened fire at a property in Clapton, East London, reportedly shooting at a 21-year-old man thirteen times. The man was taken to hospital in critical condition.
- Four family members, and a fifth man, have been jailed after police dismantled a network supplying guns and ammunition to criminals operated by a registered firearms certificate holder from his home in Birmingham, West Midlands. A large cache of weapons, equipment and ammunition were recovered.
Stolen Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least one report in March 2018 of a stolen gun:
- See above Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition, a shotgun stolen in Reading, Berkshire.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least six reports in March 2018 of animal cruelty involving a gun:
- Five cats have been reported injured in airgun attacks in Buckinghamshire, Staffordshire, Clwyd and Cornwall. Another cat has been put to sleep after being discovered with serious injuries in Cheshire.
- A swan has been found shot dead at a pond in Wigan, Greater Manchester.
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 and other organisations and individuals calling for airgun registration, including families bereaved as a result of ‘child on child’ airgun fatalities, welcome the Government’s Review of the regulation of air weapons in England and Wales and await the outcome.
Sentences and Convictions
We are aware of at least 35 reports in March 2018 of sentences and convictions for gun crime:
- A 43-year-old man has been jailed for eight years for kidnap with concurrent sentences for blackmail, actual bodily harm, possession of a stun gun and production and possession of cannabis. The man and his accomplice kidnapped a man from a property in Basildon, Essex, threatened him with a knife and a gun, forced him into a car and took him to another property where he was attacked again. The kidnappers called their captive’s parents and demanded cash but the victim managed to escape and alert police.
- A 32-year-old man has been jailed for two years after admitting possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and using racist remarks to a shopkeeper in Birmingham, West Midlands.
- A 52-year-old man has been jailed for four-and-a-half years after admitting possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and other charges. The man pointed a homemade gun at a driver during a road rage incident in West Kirby, Merseyside and bomb disposal officers were called to deal with an improvised explosive found in the man’s car. Homemade ammunition was later recovered in his house.
- A 30-year-old man has been fined £200 and ordered to pay £135 costs and a £30 surcharge after pleading guilty to a charge of firing an air weapon beyond premises. The man was seen firing at wheelie bins in a car park in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.
- A 28-year-old man has been jailed for fifteen years after being found guilty of possession of a firearm in Ladbroke Grove, West London, with intent to enable another to endanger life and other charges relating to the supply of a firearm.
- A 28-year-old man has been jailed for fifteen months after pleading guilty to possession of a disguised firearm. Police attended following a confrontation after a collision at a carwash in Darlaston, West Midlands and found a Taser in the man’s vehicle.
- Three men have been jailed for a total of thirty years after committing a string of violent raids including forcing their way into the Conservative Club in Worsley, Greater Manchester where they were thwarted by a 79-year-old man who grabbed the firearm.
- Two men have been jailed for a total of eighteen years after seriously injuring an 18-year-old man they mistakenly believed to be a rival gang member in a drive-by shotgun shooting in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.
- A 22-year-old man has been given a six-month prison sentence suspended for eighteen months after admitting possession of a weapon when prohibited due to an earlier custodial sentence. He claimed that an air pistol, found wrapped in underwear in a drawer at his home in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire was used to shoot birds.
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, corrupt licensed gun dealers, (see above reports in March 2018 involving Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition) 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: March 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. 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. 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 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.
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