February 2019 Review
by Gun Control Network on 11-03-2019
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: February 2019 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 one report in February 2019 concerning a gun death:
- As a man was sitting in his car waiting to collect his daughter from a dance class in Liverpool, Merseyside, he was fatally shot in what police believe was a targeted attack. It is thought the weapon used was a handgun. A man has since been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator.
We are aware of at least six reports in February 2019 which we believe to be armed domestic violence and/or victim known to perpetrator, including:
- A 46-year-old man has been jailed for two years, eight months after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. In October last year, he called police to say that he had a gun and intended to kill himself. When firearms officers attended his address in Winford, Isle of Wight, he pointed a BB gun at his partner’s head and at the officers. Police fired two baton rounds before they were able to detain him and recover the firearm.
- A 20-year-old man was handed a two-year sentence at a young offender institution after he admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. In October 2017, after he had been drinking and taking drugs with his girlfriend and another man at an address in Blaenavon, Monmouthshire, he accused the man of flirting with his partner. During a five-hour ordeal, the perpetrator taped two knives to his hands and swung his arms near the man’s head, threatening to cut off his ears. He also held a loaded air rifle at his victim’s head and threatened to kill him and gouge out his eyes.
- A 33-year-old man has been jailed for fifteen years after being convicted of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and causing grievous bodily harm with intent. Following a disagreement with a man he had known for some years, the perpetrator shot him at a flat in Wolverhampton, West Midlands before fleeing. A neighbour called emergency services and the seriously-injured victim was treated in hospital.
- A 24-year-old man has been jailed for eighteen weeks and given a three-year restraining order after admitting possession of an imitation handgun with intent to cause fear of violence. After seeing his ex-girlfriend inside her house in Grimsby, Lincolnshire with a man, he obtained a crow-scarer gun from a friend and returned to the property in the early hours of the morning to confront the couple. The man, who had been drinking heavily, fired blank shells and barged through the door of the house. During a brief altercation, a mirror was damaged but the firearm was not aimed at anyone. He handed himself into police the following day. The weapon has never been recovered.
Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least one report in February 2019 relating to licensed gun owners/dealers/legal guns and ammunition:
- Firearms officers investigating a report that a woman was being held against her will by a group of armed men at a pub in Blackheath, South East London, stopped a car that had been seen leaving the premises to question a male suspect. Scotland Yard later confirmed that an armed police officer mistakenly shot and wounded the man during his detention; he was treated in hospital for injuries not believed to be life-threatening. A total of seven people, including the injured man, have since been arrested for undisclosed offences. Police appealed for information.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least one report in February 2019 of animal cruelty and/or death involving a gun:
- A llama has been found shot dead in a field at an animal sanctuary in Longhorsley, Northumberland. Police believe that poachers may have mistaken the animal for a deer. A police spokesperson appealed for information.
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.
Sentences and Convictions
We are aware of at least twenty-six reports in February 2019 of sentences and convictions for gun crime, including:
- A man has been jailed for seven years after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine and heroin, with intent to supply, and possession of a disguised firearm. When police officers carried out a search warrant at his home in Blackburn, Lancashire in August last year, they seized £25,000 worth of cocaine, as well as quantities of heroin, steroid tablets and anxiety medication. In addition, a stun gun disguised as a torch was recovered.
- A 26-year-old man has been jailed for seven years, ten months after being convicted of possession of a firearm, actual bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon. In March 2018, he threatened a man with a shotgun at a house in Newark, Nottinghamshire and, in August of the same year, he attacked a man with a hammer.
- A man has been sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order after admitting affray. The man and a friend, both wearing masks, pointed what appeared to be handguns at members of the public in Hull, East Yorkshire in June 2017. Police were alerted by a bus driver and an office worker who witnessed the pair’s exploits. On the arrest of one man, the recovered firearm was found to be an airsoft pistol capable of firing muzzle-loaded 6mm plastic bullets. Two plastic bullets were also found. A warrant has been issued for the friend who was with the man on the day of the offence.
- A 22-year-old man of no fixed address, has been jailed for four-and-a-half-years after pleading guilty to attempted robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. In January this year, he waved a BB gun in a shopkeeper’s face while demanding money at a shop in Clacton, Essex. When the shopkeeper pushed the gun away and called the police, the man left the premises. He was arrested a few days later.
- A man has received a custodial sentence of five years after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm, possession of ammunition and possession of a Class-B drug. When police raided his home in Southampton, Hampshire in August last year, they recovered a Beretta pistol, a silencer and bullets for the gun, as well as a small quantity of cannabis. The man was handed a one-year concurrent sentence for each possession of the silencer and the ammunition.
- A man has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of Class A and Class B drugs with the intent to supply both, possession of a 12-gauge shotgun without a certificate and escaping custody. When police officers searched the man’s home in Accrington, Lancashire in March last year, they recovered a shotgun that had been stolen in October 2017, as well as shotgun cartridges and £1300 worth of cocaine and cannabis. The man was not home during the search and he managed to avoid detention until September. The court heard that he had been holding the firearm for someone else involved in the drug world.
- Two men, both nineteen years old, have each been sentenced to three years and nine months in prison after they admitted robbery and possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. Armed with a stun gun, the duo attempted to steal a car from a man as he parked on the driveway of his home in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands. The victim was knocked to the ground and his phone and wallet were stolen. The perpetrators were identified after a CCTV image of them fleeing the scene was shared on social media.
- A 36-year-old man has been sentenced to an eighteen-month prison term, suspended for two years, after being convicted of possessing a disguised firearm. After a disguised stun gun that he had ordered online was intercepted by customs officers, police searched his home in Birkenhead, Merseyside and discovered another stun gun, a BB gun, a pepper spray and an extendable baton in his bedroom. He claimed he believed the stun guns were torches and that all the items were fancy dress accessories. He pleaded guilty to possession of the pepper spray but not guilty to possessing a disguised firearm. On sentencing, the judge said he accepted that the man was unaware that the stun guns were illegal and that exceptional circumstances enabled him to reduce the mandatory minimum sentence of five years. He also ordered him to carry out 180 hours unpaid work and 20 days rehabilitation activities, as well as pay £850 prosecution costs.
- A man was handed a custodial sentence of four years, two months after he admitted attempting to make use of a firearm with intent to escape arrest, escape from custody, burglary and handling stolen goods. When police officers tried to detain him as he was burgling a house in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, he picked up a stun gun dropped by one of the officers. Fearing the man might discharge the weapon, an officer stood on his arm. During the ensuing struggle, the officer “felt the electric charge going into him”. The man then ran off and hid behind a parked car but was apprehended shortly afterwards. In court, his Defence asserted that the Taser had discharged spontaneously.
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 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: February 2019 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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