July 2017 Review
by Gun Control Network on 19-08-2017
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: July 2017 incident reports by type
We are aware of at least one report in July 2017 of a gun death:
- A man has died and another was injured after they were shot during a brawl in Castlemilk, Glasgow.
We are aware of at least two reports in July 2017 of inquests relating to gun death:
- A coroner has ruled that the police acted lawfully in the case of the death of a 44-year-old man who was shot and killed by police in Neots, Cambridgeshire following a domestic incident.
- A coroner recorded a verdict of suicide in the case of a 77-year-old farmer who was found dead from a shotgun wound to the head in woods in Boldre, Hants.
- The inquest failed to disclose whether or not the shotgun was a legally-held gun licensed to the deceased.
- It has also emerged that an inquest was opened and adjourned in April 2017 into the death of a 67-year-old man in Chelmsford, Essex. He was found with a shotgun in a locked room and declared dead at the scene.
Armed Domestic Violence
We are aware of at least eight reports in July 2017 of armed domestic violence (victim known to perpetrator):
- A 14-year-old boy in Crewe, Cheshire has been handed a two-year criminal behaviour order after he shot and injured his neighbour with a BB gun.
- A 24-year-old man has been jailed for sixteen months after he admitted using a firearm with intent, harassment and possession of a bladed article. The man threatened his former partner, from Dudley, West Midlands, with a stun gun and knife.
- A 51-year-old man was arrested at an address in Blackburn, Lancashire on suspicion of common assault, possession of a firearm and possession of drugs, after allegedly threatening his neighbour with a firearm.
- A 30-year-old-man was arrested on suspicion of making threats to kill and false imprisonment after he allegedly locked himself inside a property in Oldham, Greater Manchester with his partner and two children while armed with a gun. After a 24-hour siege, during which local residents were evacuated, armed police entered the entered the property, released the victims and detained a man.
- A man, who received a two-year community order with rehabilitation requirements for causing actual bodily harm and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence following an attack on his girlfriend in a flat in Leicester, Leicestershire, has now been jailed for two years after failing to comply with a condition of the order.
Licensed Gun Owners/Legal Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least nine reports in July 2017 relating to licensed gun owners/legal guns and ammunition:
- See above inquest into the death of a 44-year-old man shot and killed by police firearms officers in Neots, Cambridgeshire.
- A 43-year-old man has been jailed for two years after admitting affray and illegal possession of a shotgun legally licensed by his wife. The man, diagnosed with clinical depression, threatened to take his own life during a 40-hour incident at his home in Crowfield, Suffolk, following a marriage breakdown.
- Following an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, a police officer has been summonsed to appear before magistrates charged with assault relating to the alleged use of a police Taser on a 63-year-old man in Bristol, Avon.
- The Ministry of Defence has revealed that ten weapons were lost or stolen from the armed forces last year. A submachine gun was dropped overboard, the Navy ‘lost’ 405 rounds of ammunition for a machine gun, and 341 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, said to be mainly blanks, were stolen from the Army and RAF.
- A spokesperson for the Independent Police Complaints Commission has confirmed that an investigation is to be carried out after an armed police officer allegedly shot and injured a man in his early 40s in Rubery,
- A 55-year-old licensed shotgun owner has been ordered to surrender his shotgun and pay a £400 fine after breaching the conditions for owning it by leaving the gun and a cartridge in an unlocked cabin at his farm in Moray,
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least eleven reports in July 2017 of animal cruelty involving guns:
One cat has died, eight have been injured in airgun attacks and one shot with a dart. These attacks took place in Cambridgeshire, Coventry, Devon, Gloucestershire, Merseyside, Somerset, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. Several ducks have been found injured in Somerset and a Jack Russell dog has survived after being found in Somerset with point-blank shotgun injuries to his head.
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. Airgun owners in Scotland are required to have a licence as of January 2017.
Sentences and Convictions
We are aware of at least 21 reports in July 2017 of sentences and convictions for gun crime:
- A 19-year-old man has been jailed for 26 years after being found guilty of attempted murder, wounding with intent and possession of a firearm. The perpetrator shot a rival with a shotgun in a park in Ilford, East London, also injuring an 11-year-old child who was playing nearby.
- A 24-year-old man has been jailed for nine years after admitting robbery, two counts of possession of a firearm and other offences. The perpetrator carried out a series of offences — including armed robberies for which he carried a shotgun — in Christchurch,
- A 29-year-old man has been jailed for fifteen years after pleading guilty to robbery and possession of an offensive weapon after he held up a security van in Witham, Essex armed with a double-barrelled shotgun.
- A 22-year-old man has been jailed for twenty years for attempted murder and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life in Muswell Hill, North London.
- A 28-year-old man from Shrewsbury, Shropshire has been jailed for three years after admitting a charge of importing a prohibited weapon, an item looking like a torch but containing an electric stun gun system. The man has Asperger’s Syndrome and is obsessed with collecting weapons.
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 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: July 2017 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’) N.B. See inquest above regarding ‘child on child’ airgun death; Airsoft; ball-bearing; imitation; paintball; antique and deactivated guns; 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.
The Office of National Statistics has published data relating to 2015 which demonstrate that over 80% of offences involving imitation firearms involved BB guns or soft air weapons.
- *From January 2017 airguns in Scotland require a licence.
- ** A ‘slaughter licence’ is required for a bolt gun.
Guns that require a licence: airguns in Scotland; shotguns; rifles; police firearms and 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 guns/legal gun owners 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-type submachine guns are available without background checks. Crimes reported in the media as involving handguns are likely to involve imitations or other guns that look like handguns, resulting in misleadingly-inflated reports of handgun crime.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.