October 2018 Review
by Gun Control Network on 17-11-2018
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: October 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 six reports in October 2018 concerning gun deaths:
- A 20-year-old man has died after being shot in a residential area of Bedford, Bedfordshire. Four people have been arrested on suspicion of murder and released on bail.
- Police responding to reports of a disturbance in Greenwich, South East London found an injured teenage male who appeared to have been stabbed. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene and a post-mortem revealed a gunshot wound as the cause of death.
- A 25-year-old man was pronounced dead in hospital after reportedly being shot outside his home in Liverpool, Merseyside in what police believe was a targeted attack.
- Police officers responding to reports of a car crashing into pedestrians and parked cars in Hayes, West London, found a 22-year-old male with a gunshot wound in the passenger seat of the vehicle. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. A police spokesperson later confirmed that the victim was being driven to hospital at the time of the collision after reportedly being shot in a nearby supermarket car park.
- A man has been shot dead in Liverpool, Merseyside. The victim, a serving prisoner on day release, was attacked as he and his girlfriend were getting out of a car. Police officers have since arrested two men on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.
- A 28-year-old man has died after being shot in a street in Northampton, Northamptonshire. Police officers arrested one man on suspicion of murder; two other people were arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.
We are aware of at least three reports in October 2018 of inquests relating to gun deaths:
- The coroner at an inquest into the death of a 48-year-old man whose body was found on his parents’ smallholding near Easington, Yorkshire in September has recorded a narrative verdict, saying that the man “died as a result of a self-inflicted shotgun injury where the circumstances of the discharge of the gun could not be ascertained”. The inquest heard that the man, who had suffered from mild depression, removed his father’s shotgun from his parents’ home and, when he failed to return, was found dead by his mother. He had suffered a shotgun injury to the head.
- The jury at the inquest into the Westminster terror attack has ruled that the attacker, Khalid Masood, was lawfully killed. Masood fatally ran over four members of the public on Westminster Bridge, Central London in March last year before mortally stabbing a male police officer on duty outside Westminster Palace. An armed officer shouted at Masood to drop his knife before shooting him. Masood received first aid and CPR but was declared dead in hospital shortly afterwards.
- The coroner at the inquest into the death of an 85-year-old man in Painswick, Gloucestershire has recorded a conclusion of suicide, the cause of death being a gunshot wound to the head. The man alerted police before shooting himself with a shotgun, operated by an adapted mechanism attached to his foot. Police officers discovered his body on a sun lounger in the garden of his home and a letter was found explaining that he felt it was time to end his life.
N.B. Two of the above involved victims taking their own lives using shotguns believed to be legally owned: one by the deceased’s father, the other by the deceased.
We have also become aware of the outcome of a second investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
- A second investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into the death of a 23-year-old man in 2013 has concluded that no police officer will face criminal or misconduct proceedings. Officers restrained the man after being called to a disturbance in Manchester, Greater Manchester believing him to be in possession of a knife. He was punched and Tasered, the Taser being fired for at least eight seconds. The man died in hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest two hours later. The original investigation found that no officer had a case to answer; however, following an inquest in 2015, a reinvestigation was ordered. This report found that the officer who fired the Taser would have faced a gross misconduct hearing had he not resigned earlier this year. The mother of the victim said: “We are working on our next steps legally but we will not be letting this go.”
Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator:
We are aware of at least four reports in October 2018 of armed domestic violence and/or victim known to perpetrator:
- A 35-year-old man of no fixed address has been jailed for a minimum of 38 years after being found guilty of murdering his estranged wife and her mother. After his wife refused to reconcile with him, the man broke into her home in St. Leonards, East Sussex and shot dead both women as well as their pet dog, with a semi-automatic rifle stolen from a nearby firing range. Two female relatives in the house at the time of the attack escaped unhurt. The court heard that the man had previously uploaded revenge porn and vandalised cars belonging to the family. It has also emerged that his estranged wife had contacted the police on two occasions about her concerns.
- A 53-year-old man has been placed on a community payback order with 220 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to behaving in a threatening manner and to not having a licence for an airgun. The man, an airgun enthusiast and director of a company in Portdownie, Falkirk, pulled an airgun on a member of his staff as a “prank”.
- A 48-year-old man has been jailed for four years after admitting possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, theft and criminal damage. The man, said to be obsessed by guns, stole a replica Luger pistol from a mannequin at a museum and used it to threaten his ex-partner at her home in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, kicking the front door, threatening to kill her and pointing the gun through her letterbox.
- A 32-year-old man has been jailed for 22 months after pleading guilty to possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear and possessing a firearm while a prohibited person. The man aimed his .22 Winchester rifle at his ‘on-off girlfriend’ on a street in Blyth, Northumberland before pointing the firearm at a six-year-old boy sitting in a nearby car with his grandmother. He then caught up with his ex-partner in a different part of town and again aimed the rifle at her, this time just inches from her face. In court, evidence was heard that he had argued with his ex-girlfriend because he wanted more child contact.
Stolen Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least three reports in October 2018 relating to stolen guns and ammunition:
- See Inquests above — a 48-year-old man took his own life after taking a shotgun belonging to his father.
- See Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator above — a 35-year-old man stole a gun from a firing range and used it to fatally shoot his estranged wife and her mother.
- A 48-year-old man stole a replica gun from a museum and used it to threaten his ex-partner.
Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least five reports in October 2018 relating to licensed gun owners/dealers/legal guns and ammunition:
- See Inquests above — a 48-year-old man took his own life after taking a shotgun belonging to his father.
- An 85-year-old man took his own life using a shotgun believed to belong to him.
- A second investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into the death of a 23-year-old man in 2013 who died after being Tasered has concluded that no police officer will face criminal or misconduct proceedings.
- See Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator above — a 35-year-old man stole a gun from a firing range and used it to fatally shoot his estranged wife, her mother and a pet dog.
- Armed police shot a man during a pre-planned raid in Birmingham, West Midlands, wounding his arm. Six people were arrested on suspicion of firearms offences and a gun was retrieved at the scene. The incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least fourteen reports in October 2018 of animal cruelty involving guns:
- At least five cats have been shot and injured in Greater Manchester, Scotland, Sussex and Wales. A cat died after being shot in Devon. A man who shot and killed his estranged wife and her mother in East Sussex also shot and killed his wife’s pet dog. A dog has been shot and killed by a farmer after a number of sheep were discovered dead and injured in Devon. A squirrel, a duck and an owl have been killed in air weapon attacks in a park in Derbyshire, and the bodies of a number of foxes and badgers have been found shot and dumped by a roadside bin, also in Derbyshire. It has emerged that an otter found dead in Northamptonshire in 2017 had been shot at close range with a shotgun. A duckling recovered but a red kite died after being shot with a BB gun in Buckinghamshire over the summer. A common buzzard found in the East Riding of Yorkshire with three shotgun pellets lodged in its body is believed to have died from head injuries consistent with being confined in a trap. A red kite had to be destroyed after being found shot and injured by a gamekeeper in Hertfordshire. The body of a rare goshawk has been found dumped in a river in Aberdeenshire. A spokesperson for the RSPB Scotland said, “Many birds of prey are disappearing in suspicious fashion, almost exclusively in areas managed for intensive grouse shooting.”
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 nineteen reports in October 2018 of sentences and convictions for gun crime:
- A 23-year-old man, a student at the University of Wolverhampton, West Midlands was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to attempting to import a pistol and ammunition, possessing a prohibited weapon and ammunition and possessing articles for fraud.
- Four men have been jailed for a total of 58 years after taking part in a burglary in Thurrock, Essex in December 2017. The home was occupied by four people, including two children, when five men entered shouting, “armed police”. When three men ran outside to a waiting van, a fourth, armed with an axe and an imitation gun, became involved in a struggle with the male occupant and later died from his injuries.
- A 27-year-old army cadet leader and trainee special police officer from Oldham, Greater Manchester, has been handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years after pleading guilty to possessing indecent images of children, possessing extreme pornography and a disguised firearm. The man was also ordered to complete 30 days of rehabilitation activity and to attend a programme for sex offenders. The judge told him that due to exceptional circumstances he would not impose the minimum mandatory five-year jail term for the firearm offence.
- A 35-year-old woman has been handed a five-year custodial sentence for allowing a loaded handgun to be stored in the home she shared with her two young children in Birmingham, West Midlands. The woman claimed the gun had been stowed without her knowledge; however, the court heard that she was forensically linked to the firearm, which had been used to murder a 19-year-old male in Nottingham in 2012 and was linked to another shooting in the same city, and was storing it for a person connected to gang activity in Birmingham.
- A 17-year-old has been handed a 15-year sentence in a young offenders’ institution with an extended three years of licence after admitting attempted murder and possession of a shotgun with both intent to commit attempted murder and without a firearm certificate. The youth shot a 20-year-old man in the chest with a shotgun in Liverpool, Merseyside following an earlier fight between them. The victim was left critically ill after suffering injuries to his lungs, stomach and bowel.
- Five members of a gun-smuggling gang have been jailed for a total of 85 years. Between January 2016 and March 2017, the gang ringleaders smuggled firearms and ammunition into the UK and distributed them to London and other cities. However, the Metropolitan Police, working in partnership with the German Police and other agencies, recovered 25 firearms including handguns and six sub-machine guns as well as more than 5,000 rounds of ammunition. The weaponry was retrieved during raids in Sheffield, St. Albans and Watford.
- A 23-year-old man has been sentenced to ten years in prison after being convicted of committing grievous bodily harm with intent, with a nine-year concurrent sentence for possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. The man’s victim has been left with spinal damage resulting in him being paralysed from the chest downwards as a result of being shot in the throat at an address in Tottenham, North London.
- A 36-year-old man has been handed a five-year prison sentence after admitting assault and possession of a firearm disguised as another object. The man brought back a phone-shaped stun gun capable of firing 650,000 volts from a holiday in Bulgaria and discharged it towards another man in Rattray, Perthshire during a confrontation about a girl.
- Nine members of a traveller gang involved in organised crime have been jailed for a total of 35 years. The gang committed numerous offences including firearms offences. Following a targeted operation, police officers seized a machine gun, two revolvers, two semi-automatic guns, ammunition and bladed weapons — many from a travellers’ site in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
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. (See above — Inquests)
Please see the endnote for further explanation of gun types and current legal status.
Figure 2: October 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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