March 2016 Review
by Gun Control Network on 13-04-2016
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 of the most serious crimes are included.
Figure 1: March 2016 incident reports by type
We are aware of at least two reports of gun deaths in March 2016:
- An 18-year-old man has been shot dead while sitting in a parked car in the early hours of the morning in Birmingham, West Midlands. A 22-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the murder and released on police bail.
- A 27-year old man was shot dead with an Uzi-style submachine gun in a drive-by shooting in Harlesden, north-west London in a suspected case of mistaken identity.
We are aware of at least three reported inquests in March 2016 relating to gun deaths:
- An inquest into the death of Simon Mountjoy, 40, found that he took his own life on farmland in Bromyard, Herefordshire in October 2015. The deceased had suffered from depression made worse by bouts of drinking and had attempted to take his own life on previous occasions. The type and status of the gun was not revealed.
- An inquest into the death of Hugh Clavell Mansell, 67, found that he took his own life in a wooded area near Wareham, Dorset, in November 2015 using a licensed shotgun from his legally held gun collection. The deceased was said to have had an affair and to be anxious about his impending retirement.
- An inquest into the death of Army Reserve Corporal Ashley Brown found that he took his own life in a wooded area near Grindleford, Derbyshire using his licensed shotgun. The deceased was reported to have behaved differently since returning from active duty and had recently separated from his girlfriend.
Armed Domestic Violence
We recorded at least three reports of armed domestic violence related to gun crime in March 2016. Dominic Morris has been given a one-year conditional discharge after pleading guilty to damaging his neighbours’ window with an air rifle in Penzance, Cornwall following an ongoing issue about noise disturbance.
Licensed Gun Owners/Legal Guns
We are aware of at least six reports relating to licensed gun owners in March 2016.
- The accidental discharge of a gun by a police officer during a firearms training exercise in Fife has been found to have been “negligent and preventable” by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner. In light of the incident policing staff were reminded of the need to adhere to protocol.
- Philip Brown, 63, has been fined £400 for leaving his licensed semi-automatic shotgun unsecured in Forres, Moray where he had gone to shoot wild geese flying over the Scottish Bay. Brown left the gun by the side of the road while packing up and drove away without it.
- Dale Robinson, 20, has been given a 14-month suspended prison sentence for illegally keeping a rifle and expanding ammunition at his home in Lavendon, Buckinghamshire. Robinson, a military history enthusiast, had earlier sold a starter pistol to a man who used it to scare a member of the public in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. Robinson was a legal shotgun owner but did not have a licence for the rifle or the expanding ammunition.
- Jeffrey Page has been jailed for possessing a loaded shotgun in a public place in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. The shotgun had been legally obtained by someone else a few days before the incident. It is unclear how Page had come to possess it.
- Jordan Ashley Harris, 18, has been jailed for three years for possessing a number of guns and items of ammunition at his home in Leicester. A shotgun recovered from the property was found to be a licensed gun stolen from its owner in Surrey in 2012.
We are aware of one report in March 2016 concerning the theft of a large number of airguns from a shooting club. A 17-year-old has pleaded guilty to stealing £6,000 worth of air rifles and air pistols in the burglary of the target-shooting club in Lincoln.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least six reports of animal cruelty involving guns in March 2016.
In one incident two swans were killed in a shotgun shooting, and in another two swans were injured with an airgun. A number of lambs were also killed and injured in a rifle attack. A female badger has been found shot dead, and one cat was injured in a shooting. There is also a report concerning at least 39 cats reported missing, found dead, or discovered with air rifle injuries in Caernarfon, Gwynedd.
Although imitations, BBs, and airguns* do not require a licence in England, Scotland, and Wales they are responsible for many gun injuries to both humans and animals.
Sentences and Convictions
We are aware of at least 21 reported sentences and convictions relating to gun crime in March 2016:
- A man has been jailed for six years after being found in possession of a converted self-loading pistol and ammunition in Deptford, south-east London.
- A man has been jailed for ten years for stockpiling illegal firearms and ammunition and converting imitation guns into live firearms at his home in Enfield, north London. Officers searching his home found 20 firearms in various stages of conversion, and almost 100 rounds of ammunition.
- A man has been jailed for two years and nine months after pleading guilty to possessing a stun gun made to look like a mobile phone and a gas-operated BB gun that looked like a nine-millimetre semi-automatic pistol in Dudley, West Midlands.
- A man has been jailed for four years and three months and a woman jailed for three years and ten months for the robbery of a shop in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, Powys in which they used a silver replica gun which it later emerged had been stolen from a Wild West enthusiast who collected cowboy-themed items.
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 it’s through theft, or the failure of the licensing procedure to identify legal gun owners who pose a risk to themselves and/or others.
Figure 2: March 2016 incident 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, 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 possessing 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.
- A ‘slaughter licence’ is required for a bolt gun.
- *From April 2016 airguns in Scotland are required to be licensed.
Guns that require a licence: shotguns; rifles; and 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 do 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 misleading inflated reports of handgun crime.
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