December 2018 Review
by Gun Control Network on 11-01-2019
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: December 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 three reports in December 2018 concerning gun deaths:
- Firearms officers attended after three men allegedly burst into a house in Edmonton, North London, known locally as a drugs den, and shot a man believed to be aged around 20 years old; he died on the road outside the property. Two teenagers and a man have since been arrested.
- Ambulance staff, called to a man who had been shot at an address in Willenhall, West Midlands, found him suffering serious injuries and in cardiac arrest; he was later declared dead at the scene. A man, arrested on suspicion of murder, has since been released pending further investigation.
- Armed police responding to reports of a shooting at a house in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, found a man in his 20s with critical injuries. The victim died later in hospital. A teenage boy has since been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Stolen Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least three reports in December 2018 relating to stolen guns and ammunition:
- Thieves reportedly broke into a home in Worlington, Suffolk and stole items including a 12-bore Lincoln shotgun, a bolt-action rifle and ammunition. Police have appealed for information.
- An 18-year-old man, said to be suffering mental health problems, has been fined £40 for stealing an airgun and a pair of gloves from a shop in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear. The man, who ran off with the items while inspecting the air rifle in the shop, was ordered to pay compensation of £180 and a victim surcharge of £80.
- During a daytime burglary, an air rifle and an antique gun were stolen from a house in Woodburn Green, Buckinghamshire. Police have appealed for information.
Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least seven reports in December 2018 relating to licensed gun owners/dealers/legal guns and ammunition:
- See Stolen Guns and Ammunition above — 12-bore shotgun, bolt-action rifle and ammunition stolen from a home in Worlington, Suffolk.
- The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner has found that a police officer who fired a baton round at a woman in Edinburgh, Scotland in March this year acted in a “necessary and proportionate” manner.
- A 23-year-old man was shot by an officer from the Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad during an operation outside a supermarket in Wimbledon, South West London. The victim was treated in hospital and charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.
- Following a case of sheep-worrying in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, two dogs were legally shot by the owner of the livestock.
- A further incident involving sheep-worrying led to another dog being shot in Wales.
- Police shot and killed a dog in Birmingham, West Midlands after it mauled a 38-year old woman, believed to be a babysitter looking after the occupant’s children.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least twelve reports in December 2018 of animal cruelty and/or death involving guns:
- See Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition above — dogs shot after being involved in sheep worrying incidents. Dog shot by a police officer after it mauled a woman.
- A cat has been shot in the shoulder in Staffordshire and another has been shot in the spine in Northampton. A woman and a man have been reported to the authorities under section 11a of the Firearms Act 1968 after a photograph of the woman, posing next to a dead wild goat shot during a hunt on the island of Islay in Scotland, was posted on social media. A lurcher dog has been found dead with a broken neck and shotgun injuries in Somerset; Police and the RSPCA have appealed for information. A horse has been found shot dead in the New Forest in Hampshire. Two adult swans and five cygnets have been found shot and their bodies dumped in plastic bags by a river in Kent and another adult swan was found shot dead in Durham. It emerged that two owls, both ‘protected species’, have died after being shot in separate incidents in September and October 2018 in West Yorkshire.
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, other organisations and individuals are calling for airgun registration. MPs and families bereaved as a result of ‘child on child’ airgun fatalities are concerned about the unacceptable delay in announcing the outcome of the Home Office review of air weapon regulation, which was announced in October 2017.
See the link below to a petition initiated by the charity ‘Save Our Swans’ calling for airgun licensing.
Sentences and Convictions
We are aware of at least nineteen reports in December 2018 of sentences and convictions for gun crime:
- A 40-year-old man has been ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work after admitting illegal possession of a replica firearm in Glasgow, Scotland. The court heard that the man had found the ‘cowboy-style’ imitation handgun at his brother’s house, his brother being a member of a ‘gunslinging group’.
- A 19-year-old man has been convicted of murder after shooting a man in the chest with a handgun outside a garage in Chelmsford, Essex in August 2017. The man handed himself in to police in Amsterdam after being on the run for several months.
- Two brothers already serving prison sentences, received a further eight and seven years respectively after being found guilty of conspiring to transfer a firearm. Together with an inmate at another prison, the brothers used banned mobile phones to arrange to transfer a sawn-off shotgun to a fourth man in Birmingham, West Midlands. Police monitored the men’s communications and raided a flat, finding drugs and ammunition. The two other men will be sentenced later.
- A 36-year-old man has been jailed for nine years and six months for conspiracy to possess a firearm and ammunition. During a raid at a flat in Manchester, Greater Manchester, police discovered a holdall containing seven guns, including an assault rifle, which was forensically linked to a number of shootings in Greater Manchester, and ammunition and drugs worth £38,000. A police spokesperson speaking after the case said that detectives believe the guns were being controlled by other organised crime groups using the flat as a safe house.
- A man has been sentenced to four years and eight months in prison, with extended licence of four years, after he pleaded guilty to attempted possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and possession of ammunition without a certificate. The man ordered a handgun and 50 rounds of ammunition from America via the dark web; however, the cargo was intercepted, and a replica parcel was sent to his home in Oswestry, Shropshire as a trap, where police recovered a blank-firing handgun and 65 rounds of blank bullets. The court heard that the man suffered autism, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- A 36-year-old man has been sent to prison for at least 32 years after being found guilty of the murder of a man shot dead in 2015 in an apparent revenge attack outside a pool hall in Birmingham, West Midlands. A second victim suffered life-changing injuries.
- A 24-year-old man has been handed a custodial sentence of eight years and four months after he admitted possessing a firearm and ammunition, as well as other charges. The man, a drug dealer, shot himself in the thigh while attempting to evade armed police officers who swooped on a restaurant in Leicester, Leicestershire after he was spotted with a gun.
- A 27-year-old man from Brighton, East Sussex has been sent to prison for two years after being convicted of attempting to illegally import a stun gun. The gun was intercepted by UK Border Force agents after the man posted it to himself from Thailand.
- A 22-year-old man has been jailed for 22 years after being found guilty of the importation of weapons and ammunitions. When UK Border Agency officials stopped a van in Dover, Kent, they discovered a hiding place on the front of the vehicle containing a self-loading, semi-automatic firearm, 8kg of loose ammunition, three boxes of ammunition and two magazines.
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, (See above — Stolen Guns) corrupt 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: December 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 and women are particularly at risk of domestic violence involving licensed gun owners. 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.
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