September 2018 Review
by Gun Control Network on 11-10-2018
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: Sept 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 five reports in September 2018 concerning gun deaths:
- A 17-year-old man who was shot at from a car last week in Birmingham, West Midlands has died from his injuries.
- A 22-year-old man has died after being shot in a cemetery in Tottenham, North London.
- A 32-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene after being shot outside his home in Aidrie, North Lanarkshire.
- A man was shot in the head at a clay pigeon shoot at Clandon Park House, a National Trust property, near Guildford, Surrey. He died at the scene. It is believed that the gun went off as the man was loading it.
- A 19-year-old man has died after being shot in Walthamstow, North East London. He was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at hospital.
We are aware of at least three reports in September 2018 of inquests relating to gun deaths:
- A coroner at an inquest into the death of an 81-year-old man in Hatfield, Hertfordshire in May this year, has recorded a verdict of suicide. The man was found with severe head injuries and his legally-held shotgun underneath him.
- An inquest into the death of a man in Rowhams, Hampshire has recorded a verdict of suicide, death being caused by head injuries from a single gunshot. The victim, who was experiencing relationship difficulties, was a member of a shooting club and took his life with his legally-held gun.
- A coroner at an inquest into the death of a 19-year-old man in Widness, Cheshire has recorded a verdict of suicide, death being caused by a gunshot wound to the head from the victim’s own legally-held rifle. The man was said to have suffered low moods after an unsuccessful medical assessment to join the army.
We have also become aware of a previously-unreported inquest relating to a gun death:
- It has emerged that an inquest into the death of a 78-year-old man in Dorset in May 2017 from gunshot injuries, resulted in a suicide verdict. The Coroner subsequently sent a Regulation 28 Report to the Home Secretary and the Chief Constable of Dorset Police regarding the circumstances by which a licence was granted to a man known by his family to be intent upon ending his own life with a gun.
N.B. All September inquests relate to licensed gun owners whose guns remained in their possession despite their personal difficulties.
Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim known to perpetrator:
We are aware of at least five reports in September 2018 of armed domestic violence and/or victim known to perpetrator:
- A 21-year-old man has been handed a suspended jail sentence, 30 rehabilitation activity sessions and 60 hours of unpaid work after being found for a second time to have had an imitation gun in the family home in Thrupp, Gloucestershire. On the second occasion, the man shot his father in the chest with the weapon and struck him repeatedly with the butt of the BB gun.
- A man has been jailed for eight years after being convicted of possessing a semi-automatic pistol and other related charges. The man pointed a loaded gun at his ex-girlfriend and her mother as they turned up to collect some belongings from his residence in East Tuddenham, Norfolk following a relationship breakdown.
- A man has been jailed for 22 months after admitting to possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and making a threat to kill. The situation arose following a confrontation in Mold, Flintshire regarding a motorbike, which had been stolen while being stored by the man’s former friend.
- A man has been jailed for two-and-a-half years after he admitted possession of a firearm when prohibited and was convicted of possessing an electroshock weapon with intent to cause fear of violence. After a long-running dispute with a neighbour in Liverpool, Merseyside regarding loud music being played until 4am, the man discharged a stun gun inches from his neighbour’s face causing him to be temporarily blinded by a flash of light.
- A man was engulfed in a ‘giant fireball’ after his son used an airgun to shoot an aerosol can beneath his chair as a prank. The man suffered burns to his arm and shoulder and needed to wear bandages for a month. The father and son had been shooting at full aerosol cans, placed next to a candle for extra danger, in their garden in Maesteg, Wales.
Stolen Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least two reports in September 2018 relating to stolen guns and ammunition:
- A 53-year-old man was handed a sixteen-month jail term, suspended for two years with 100 hours’ community service and 20 rehabilitation days after admitting possessing a prohibited firearm and having ammunition without a certificate. The man, who worked as a Ministry of Defence (MoD) guard serviceman at Chichester Barracks, West Sussex at the time of its closure in 2005, found an AK47 rifle left unsecured in the barracks museum and took it as a souvenir. The judge found there were exceptional circumstances and spared the man the mandatory minimum five-year prison term for the offence, saying that there had been no risk to the public. The man, who still works for the MoD, now faces an internal disciplinary investigation.
- Two shotguns, a rifle and other items were reportedly stolen from a family home in Masham, North Yorkshire.
Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least eleven reports in September 2018 relating to licensed gun owners/dealers/legal guns and ammunition:
- See Gun Deaths above — a licensed gun owner shot while clay pigeon shooting at an event on National Trust property, Clandon Park House, near Guildford, Surrey.
- See Inquests above — three suicide verdicts relating to men who took their own lives with their legally-held guns and a fourth, previously unreported inquest, relating to a licensed gun owner after which the Coroner wrote to the Home Secretary and the Chief Constable raising concerns about the circumstances under which the victim was granted a gun licence.
- See Stolen Guns and Ammunition above — A Ministry of Defence employee at Chichester Barracks who stole an unsecured prohibited weapon from the barracks museum, and two shotguns and a rifle stolen from a home Masham, North Yorkshire.
- A 17-year-old boy suffered a cardiac arrest after being Tasered by a police officer in Coventry, West Midlands. The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating the incident.
- A police officer has been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm after he Tasered a man during his arrest for an alleged public order offence in Birmingham, West Midlands in February of this year. The Independent Office for Police Conduct has launched an investigation into the incident.
- Firearms officers Tasered a man after being called to a disturbance at a post office in Leeds, West Yorkshire. The man became violent during his arrest in a nearby garden but claimed the weapon he had used was a BB gun; however, the suspect threw the gun away before he was arrested and it has not been retrieved.
- Firearms officers Tasered a man in Verwood, Dorset after he allegedly threatened a woman with a samurai sword at a property.
- Police officers Tasered a man after being called to an ‘on-going disturbance’ in Hartlepool, County Durham. The man was taken to hospital with a head injury, sustained during his detention.
- Police officers Tasered a man allegedly making threats to kill while holding a broken bottle in a street in Falmouth, Cornwall. The man was treated in hospital before being returned to police custody.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least fourteen reports in September 2018 of animal cruelty involving guns:
- Eight cats have been injured in airgun attacks in Devon, Isle of Wight, Merseyside, Oxfordshire, Scotland, South Yorkshire, Surrey, and the West Midlands. Another cat died after being shot in Oxfordshire. A pigeon had to be put to sleep by the RSPCA after a woman heard a shot and found it injured in her garden in North Wales. A red kite, a protected species, has reportedly been shot over Saddleworth Moor, Greater Manchester. A spokesperson for the RSPB said “75 per cent of all crimes against birds of prey are connected with the game shooting industry.” A petition calling for the end of geese culling at a golf club near Moreton, Cheshire has attracted more than 1000 signatures. A local resident said that it is believed that Canada Geese are being shot as they fly over the club because they defecate on the greens.
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 27 reports in September 2018 of sentences and convictions for gun crime:
- Two men, aged 41 and 51, have both been jailed for life after being convicted of a number of offences relating to armed robbery. The first on a bank in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, and another ‘cash in transit’ robbery in London during which they were arrested.
- Three men have been jailed for a total of 52 years after being found guilty of selling prohibited firearms and related charges. Two of the men funded the purchase of 43 replica handguns and blank-firing cartridges online from a firm in Calais, which were legally-despatched to an address in Cornwall before being stored in an industrial unit in West Bromwich, West Midlands. The replica guns were converted and sold on.
- A 50-year-old man has been jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of eight years after being convicted of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life. The man was involved in the shooting of another man with a sawn-off shotgun outside a nightclub in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear. The victim survived the attack. A second man, accused of ordering the attack, was jailed for three-and-a-half years after being convicted of perverting the course of justice.
- A 60-year-old man was sentenced to two years and six months in prison after he admitted attempting to sell a blank-firing pistol, possessing a prohibited starting pistol and 700 rounds of ammunition without a certificate and possession of three air rifles. The man traded in imitation flare-firing pistols, one of which was detected by an X-ray machine at an airport after he posted it to a collector in America. When police raided his home in Winkleigh, Devon they found seventeen blank-firing starting pistols, three high-powered air rifles and 700 rounds of home-made rifle ammunition.
- 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, shotguns stolen from property in North Yorkshire) 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 Gun Deaths above — Licensed Gun Owner fatally shot on National Trust property during shooting event in Surrey.
Please see the endnote for further explanation of gun types and current legal status.
Figure 2: September 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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