April 2018 Review
by Gun Control Network on 16-05-2018
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: April 2018 incident reports by type
Our summary of Fatal Gun Incidents 2017-18 is available at www.gun-control-network.org.
We are aware of at least five reports in April 2018 concerning six gun deaths:
Police officers attended following a report that a man had been found dead in Aldingbourne, West Sussex. A police spokesperson said that the victim’s injuries were “consistent with being shot” and that a firearm had been recovered from the scene. The death is not being treated as suspicious.
Police officers responding to reports of gunfire in the car park of a block of flats in Birmingham, West Midlands discovered a 20-year-old man with severe gunshot wounds. Medical staff attended but he was declared dead at the scene.
A 29-year-old man has died in hospital after being shot in the head in a drive-by attack in Glasgow, Scotland.
Firearms officers were deployed to an address in Romford, East London after a man called police making threats and claiming to be in possession of a firearm. A spokesperson later confirmed that a male, believed to be in his 40s, had been shot dead by police. A mandatory referral has been made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
Two teenagers have been fatally shot in separate attacks on the same evening in London: a 17-year-old girl died at the scene following a drive-by shooting in Tottenham and a 16-year-old boy died in hospital after being found with a gunshot wound in Walthamstow.
We are aware of at least one report in April 2018 of an inquest relating to a gun death:
- A coroner at an inquest into the death of an 18-year-old man who died after shooting himself in the head with an antique revolver, has recorded a verdict of misadventure. Paramedics, who found a five-shot revolver lying beside the man’s body, pronounced him dead at the scene. In addition, two empty shell casings and cocaine, heroin and cannabis were found on the man’s bed.
Armed Domestic Violence
We are aware of at least seven reports in April 2018 of armed domestic violence (victim known to perpetrator):
A 60-year-old man received a twelve-month sentence suspended for two years after pleading guilty to possession of a Taser, and a custodial sentence of seven years after being found guilty of assault by penetration, using controlling and coercive behaviour, and putting a person in fear. The perpetrator, from Church Eaton, Staffordshire kept a Taser to scare and control a woman whom he physically and sexually abused over a period of seven years.
A 23-year-old man has been jailed for eighteen months after admitting possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and other charges. After he sent photos of himself brandishing a gun to his ex-girlfriend, armed police were deployed to her home in Birmingham, West Midlands where he was waiting outside, and a BB gun, capable of firing pellets, was hidden nearby. The court heard that despite their relationship ending some years ago, the perpetrator had remained obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, sending jealous messages to her and threatening her family. The judge made an indefinite restraining order banning the man from having any contact with his victim.
After spending a month in prison on remand, a 21-year-old man has been given a twelve-month community order with fifteen rehabilitation activity sessions to address drug use and 40 hours of unpaid work for the benefit of the community. During an argument at the family home in Stroud, Gloucestershire, the perpetrator pointed a BB gun at his mother and fired it near her, before pointing the weapon at his father’s chest and firing a plastic pellet at his shin, causing short term pain. The man had originally been charged with possessing an imitation firearm and assault causing actual bodily harm; however, a judge accepted his guilty plea to an affray as an alternative.
A 22-year-old man was handed a twelve-month community order, a five-year restraining order, a twelve-month curfew and was ordered to pay £85 costs and an £85 victim charge after a judge heard that he pointed a BB gun at an ex-partner in the car park of a pub in Derby, Derbyshire and tried to rip the wheel trims off her car. The incident culminated two months of harassment since the break-up of their relationship, including subjecting his victim to calls and texts, ramming her car and harassing her by sitting outside her home and place of work.
A 58-year-old man has been jailed for five years after admitting possession of a disguised firearm — a stun gun disguised as a torch. The perpetrator discharged the weapon at his wife in their home in Redcar, North Yorkshire during an argument after he came home from drinking. The judge concluded that drink had triggered the incident and that, although his wife did not wish him to be prosecuted, it was the court’s responsibility to apply the law.
Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least one report in April 2018 relating to licensed gun owners/dealers/legal guns and ammunition:
- The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit has retrieved several boxes of Navy ammunition that members of the public found washed up on two beaches in East Cornwall. A police spokesperson urged people not to approach any similar boxes found as the ammunition is believed to be highly dangerous.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least ten reports in April 2018 of animal cruelty involving guns:
Seven cats have been reported injured and two more cats have died following airgun attacks in Berkshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Dorset, East Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk and Surrey.
The bodies of wood pigeons and doves, believed to have been shot with a pellet gun, have been found by children near a park in Wiltshire.
A dead baby fox found by a dog-walker and taken to Fox Rehabilitation in Colchester, Essex is reported to have died as a result of internal bleeding after being shot with a pellet gun.
Imitation, Airsoft, Airguns 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 43 reports in April 2018 of sentences and convictions for gun crime:
A 62-year-old man has been jailed for twelve years, with three years on licence after release from prison with further restrictions on travel and internet use, after being found guilty of possessing five firearms and 1500 live cartridges with intent to endanger life. Police searching his home in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire discovered three sub-machine guns, two pistols and a silencer, decommissioned at the time of sale in the Czech Republic and put back in working order by the man. The court heard that after losing his job as an A&E Consultant following disciplinary hearings, he drew up an “assassination list” of colleagues involved in the process, practised shooting at a forest area near his home and researched routes to some addresses on his list.
A 31-year-old man has been jailed for fourteen years after pleading guilty to a series of offences relating to his possession of firearms, ammunition and drugs. When police stopped his car in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire they discovered a loaded MAC-10 sub-machine gun, two self-loading pistols and a quantity of ammunition. Police also recovered a sawn-off shotgun, heroin and crack cocaine, with a total street value estimated at £90,000, during a search of a nearby bedsit that the perpetrator had been using as a storage facility.
A man has been sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a Taser disguised as another object. When officers called at his home in Swansea, Wales, the stun gun, disguised as a torch, was found in the kitchen. The man said he’d had the weapon for years after confiscating it while working as a security guard at a music festival.
A 39-year-old man has been jailed for nineteen years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. The perpetrator used a range of props, including an imitation pistol, a voice distorter, a burka and a homemade bomb, to intimidate staff and steal thousands of pounds during five raids at banks and shops across Greater Manchester last summer.
A 19-year-old man has been jailed for fifteen years for possessing a banned firearm with intent to endanger life and his 18-year-old accomplice received a sentence of three years for perverting the course of Justice. Both men are linked to a Birmingham street gang. DNA on a discarded bag of 49 shotgun cartridges and high levels of gunshot residue on their hair and clothing linked them to a sawn-off shotgun recovered nearby after their taxi was intercepted by police in Smethwick, West Midlands.
Nine men from gangs involved in drug dealing have been jailed for a total of 170 years following a retaliation gun battle in Bedford, Bedfordshire in 2016. Convictions included conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm, possession of a shotgun and others. A police spokesperson said: “The combined sentences will be the biggest in Bedfordshire policy history for one investigation.”
Five men have been jailed for a total of more than forty years for firearms offences after police discovered a revolver and a blank-firing pistol, both loaded, in a car in which the men were travelling. Officers pursued the vehicle after it failed to stop in Kensal Green, North West London during the Notting Hill Carnival last year.
Seven members of a gang that moved drugs from Belgium to the UK have been jailed for a total of more than 100 years for drugs and firearms offences after officers uncovered £66.5 million worth of cocaine and heroin hidden in farm equipment and trailers at King George Docks in Hull, Yorkshire.
A 74-year-old man has been handed a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to possessing firearms and ammunition without a certificate and possessing prohibited weapons. Police searching his business premises in Gravesend, Kent discovered 24 long-barrelled guns, 47 handguns, five flare guns, two BB guns adapted to fire lethal ammunition, two shotguns, a Russian Second World War machine gun with more than 300 rounds of ammunition, a British Second World War machine gun, a harpoon gun, gunpowder and fireworks. The man claimed he collected weapons out of his interest in antiques.
Three men have been jailed for a total of 31 years after admitting conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to possess an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence. The gang carried out armed robberies at eight bookmakers across Harrow, Northwest London, and others in Brent and Hertfordshire.
Two men have been jailed for a total of nearly twenty years after they violently attacked a man during a burglary in Lowestoft, Sussex. One pressed an airgun into the back of the victim’s head and told him that he was going to die before discharging it repeatedly. When the victim fought back, the other assailant hit him with a metal bar. The victim suffered seven pellet wounds to the head and neck; one pellet in his neck was so deeply embedded it couldn’t be removed.
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: April 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. (N.B. Inquest (above) Teenager died after apparently shooting himself with an ‘antique’ gun.)
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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