May 2018 Review
by Gun Control Network on 16-06-2018
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: May 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 in the News & Reviews section of this website.
We are aware of at least five reports in May 2018 concerning gun deaths:
- A 22-year-old man was discovered fatally shot in a car in Birmingham, West Midlands. A suspect was arrested on the same day, as he was boarding a ferry in Dover. A woman, arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, has been released pending further investigations. Police have appealed for information.
- A man died in hospital after he was allegedly shot in the chest during a barbecue in Birmingham, West Midlands. Police have launched a murder investigation.
- Police attending after reports of gunshots in Kennington, South London, found a 17-year-old boy had suffered a gunshot injury. The teenager died at the scene.
- Police officers attended following reports that a man had been shot on a main road in Rainhill Stoops, Merseyside. The victim was declared dead at the scene.
- Armed police were deployed after two men were shot outside a Tube station in Queensbury, North West London. Paramedics treated a man in his thirties, but he died from his injuries at the scene. A man in his twenties was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds.
We are aware of at least one report in May 2018 of an inquest relating to a gun death:
- A coroner at an inquest into the death of 53-year-old man, found dead with a shotgun underneath him at his farm in Llandeloy, Pembrokeshire, has recorded a conclusion of suicide. The deceased had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease and was said to have believed his condition was worsening.
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 May 2018 of armed domestic violence (victim known to perpetrator):
- A 49-year-old man from Hirwaun, South Wales has been jailed for seven years after admitting actual bodily harm. The man shot his son in the arm and in the stomach with a hunting rifle after he stepped in to break up a family row. The man also turned the gun on himself and sustained an injury to his chin.
- It has emerged that a man, armed with a shotgun and chainsaw, threatened to kill his family at their home in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire in November last year. The man faced a number of firearms and other charges and was given a suspended sentence of fifteen months.
- Firearms officers were deployed to a residential address in Gravesend, Kent after a man allegedly brandished an air rifle at a woman who was known to him. The weapon was discovered in the suspect’s garden and he was charged with possessing an air weapon with intent to cause fear of violence.
- A 50-year-old man has been given a life sentence and ordered to serve at least 26 years in jail after being found guilty of murder. The man fired his legally-held shotgun at a man who had come to his home in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire to discuss a dispute between their children. Police originally arrested the man’s 14-year-old son after his father persuaded him to take the blame. The son’s confession was found to be fake after a conversation between the father and son, recorded in a prison van, incriminated the father.
- A man was sentenced to an eighteen-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and ten days of rehabilitation after pleading guilty to affray. The man fired a shotgun three times into the air during a row with his wife and her daughter’s partner at his farm in Burstwick, Yorkshire.
Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least four reports in May 2018 relating to licensed gun owners/dealers/legal guns and ammunition:
- See above Domestic Violence (victim known to perpetrator), man shot dead in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire.
- See above Domestic Violence (victim known to perpetrator), a father shot his son twice during a family argument in Hirwaun, South Wales.
- The Independent Office for Police Conduct has launched an investigation after an armed police officer shot a man suspected of carrying a handgun in Bishop Auckland, The suspect was reportedly shot through the window of a taxi, after ignoring warnings from police to get out of the vehicle. The man was taken to hospital with injuries not thought to be life threatening.
- A man seen carrying a gas-powered air weapon was shot in the arm by a police officer in Bishop Auckland, Durham during his detention. The man was later charged with one count of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
N.B. We are concerned to note the discovery of three unsecured air rifles and ammunition at The Minster School, York, Yorkshire, where three members of staff have been suspended pending investigations. Guns and children are a dangerous mix; a school is no place for guns.
Stolen Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least two reports in May 2018 concerning stolen guns:
- A .177 junior hunter air rifle and other items have been stolen from Pennar, Pembroke.
- A 29-year-old man has been jailed for eight years after pleading guilty to possessing two shotguns that had been stolen from a farm. One gun was discovered in the man’s home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, the other was found dumped in bushes.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least seven reports in May 2018 of animal cruelty involving a gun:
- Two cats have been reported injured in airgun attacks in Norfolk and Derbyshire. A swan has been found dead in Great Yarmouth. A goose has been injured and a fox had to be put down after being found injured in South London. A red kite, a protected bird, has been put down after being found injured in West Yorkshire and a beadle puppy is believed to have been shot on private land and its body dumped in a river in Cornwall.
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 23 reports in May 2018 of sentences and convictions for gun crime:
- A 33-year-old man has been jailed for at least 22 years after being found guilty of murder. The execution-style killing, in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2016, had been planned by a gang of which the jailed man was a member.
- Two men have been jailed for a total of twelve years and ten months after admitting to firearms and drugs offences in Birmingham, West Midlands.
- A 20-year-old man has been given a fifteen-month prison sentence suspended for two years after pleading guilty to possession of a prohibited firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and other charges relating to a road rage incident in St. Austell, Cornwall, during which the man used an air weapon to threaten the driver and passengers in another vehicle.
- Two men have each been jailed for fourteen years after admitting to firearms offences. Police began investigating them after antique firearms, modified to fire modern ammunition, were recovered at sites across South Yorkshire, and evidence of firearms modification was discovered at the home of one of the men in Hatfield, South Yorkshire. It emerged that at least seven handguns had been reactivated, one of which had been used in a shooting in Doncaster in 2016; three others have never been found.
- A 26-year-old man has been jailed for seventeen years after admitting firearm and drugs-related charges. Police officers searching the man’s home in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, found £193,430 cash, a gas gun adapted to fire ammunition with a magazine holding three live rounds, thirteen more rounds, a silencer and drugs.
- A 31-year-old man has been jailed for life, with a minimum term of 32 years, after being found guilty of murder. The jailed man shot a rival drug dealer in the head in Fulham, South West London. The men had been involved in an ongoing feud.
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, 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: May 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
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