August 2018 Review
by Gun Control Network on 18-09-2018
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: August 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 one report in August 2018 concerning a gun death:
- A 24-year-old man died in hospital after he was shot in the street in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Two men have since been arrested on suspicion of murder and a woman has been detained on suspicion of assisting an offender. A police spokesperson said that the victim was “deliberately targeted”.
We have also become aware of two previously-unreported gun deaths:
- It has emerged that in June 2016, a 43-year-old man died after he was Tasered by police in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. Officers attended after concerns were raised about the welfare of the man, who had been seen stabbing himself and a dog, and hitting his head against a window. Officers “engaged with the man”, an ex-soldier diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, before a Taser was discharged. The man was subsequently pronounced dead. The Independent Police Complaints Commission began an investigation into the incident.
- A report published after an investigation by the Defence Safety Authority’s Service into the death of a 24-year-old male soldier in November 2016 in Tain, Scottish Highlands describes the incident as an “avoidable accident” and refers to “a series of errors, shortfalls and poor judgment” regarding the training exercise during which the young man died.
We are aware of at least one report in August 2018 of an inquest relating to a gun death:
- An inquest into the death of an 81-year-old man in Longham, Norfolk, who was found dead at his home with a shotgun wound to the chest, has been opened and adjourned. The full inquest will be held in November of this year.
We have also become aware of a previously-unreported inquest relating to a gun death:
- It has emerged that a coroner at an inquest into the death of a 96-year-old man in Winsford, Cheshire in July 2018 recorded a verdict of suicide through a gunshot wound. The deceased was found on the doorstep of his home alongside a shotgun shortly after being released from hospital. Members of the family said that they had not been aware of the firearm but assumed it had been kept from the deceased’s farming days.
N.B. The inquest failed to reveal whether the gun was legally held by the deceased.
Armed Domestic Violence
We are aware of at least four reports in August 2018 of armed domestic violence (victim known to perpetrator):
- A 19-year-old man received concurrent sentences of thirty months for stalking, possessing a firearm and possessing an offensive weapon. The man, dressed in military uniform and armed with a pistol, visited the university in Aberystwyth, West Wales, where his ex-partner was studying, but was refused entry to halls of residence by security staff. He had been stalking her for eighteen months following the end of their relationship. Later, a search of the man’s car revealed a military uniform, an air pistol, ammunition and nine gas cylinders. The judge also imposed a life-long restraining order banning the man from contacting his former girlfriend either directly or indirectly.
- A 30-year-old man has been jailed for ten months after admitting possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. Following a drinking session, the man pointed an air gun at his mother and a friend at the family home in Wainfleet, Lincolnshire.
- Police officers attended following a report that a man with a gun was making threats to a woman in Poole, Dorset. The suspect was arrested three miles away on suspicion of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
- A 50-year-old man was handed a fourteen-month custodial sentence after he admitted an affray and possessing a firearm when prohibited. The man had threatened a neighbour who later called the police after seeing the man shooting at bins with an air rifle outside a block of flats in Cinderford, Gloucestershire.
Stolen Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least three reports in August 2018 relating to stolen guns and ammunition:
- After being called to investigate a cache of property found in Brandon, police officers retrieved Airsoft airgun equipment and realistic replica guns that had been stolen from a container at a paintballing club in Tuddenham, Suffolk.
- A 40-year-old man received a custodial sentence of four-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to burglary. The man broke into a house in Newport, Wales and stole a deactivated revolver from a wall mounting.
- A shotgun and cash were stolen during a burglary at a home in Treuddyn, Flintshire.
Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least five reports in August 2018 relating to licensed gun owners/dealers/legal guns and ammunition:
- See Gun Deaths above, death of a man Tasered by police in Wales and previously-unreported death of a soldier during military training in Scotland in 2016.
- See Stolen Guns and Ammunition above, shotgun stolen from a home in Treuddyn, Flintshire.
- An army bomb disposal team has safely disposed of two anti-aircraft shells that a woman brought along to a resident’s meeting in Berrow, Somerset. She had intended that the borrowed ammunition would be displayed at the village show.
- A registered firearms user was handed a twelve-month community order after pleading guilty to affray. Firearms officers were called to his home in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire after he threatened children and pointed a weapon at them for reportedly throwing stones at his window. Police seized several guns from his home. Describing the man’s actions as “completely out of character stupidity”, the judge ordered him to complete 80 hours’ unpaid work and a rehabilitation activity requirement of fifteen days; he was also ordered to pay £1,200 costs.
- After pleading guilty to two offences of intentionally killing two birds, which were protected by law, and to possessing an item capable of being used to commit offences against wild birds, a 44-year-old gamekeeper was fined £400 on each count of the killings, £200 for possessing a calling device and ordered to pay costs of £170 and a £40 surcharge. The man shot two short-eared owls on Whernside Estate, North Yorkshire, an area used for driven grouse shooting. A senior investigations officer from the RSPB said: “Over the years we have had a number of very disturbing reports from people within the shooting industry alleging widespread and systematic killing of short-eared owls on grouse moors in the north of England.”
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least fourteen reports in August 2018 of animal cruelty involving guns:
- Seven cats have been injured in airgun attacks in Berkshire, Blaenau Gwent, Greater London, Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Kent. Two more cats died after being shot in Co. Durham and South Yorkshire. A gamekeeper on the Whernside Estate in North Yorkshire shot and killed two short-eared owls (a protected species); a swan has been shot dead in Derbyshire; a housemartin’s nest has been shot down from the side of a house in Suffolk and fifteen deer have been found shot dead in Worcestershire.
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 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 39 reports in August 2018 of sentences and convictions for gun crime:
- An 18-year-old youth was jailed for thirteen years after pleading guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent to cause serious injury and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life. The shooting, in Stratford, Warwickshire, resulted in a 17-year-old boy having his lower leg amputated and is believed to have been a revenge attack as part of a drugs gang feud.
- A 46-year-old man was given a six-month custodial sentence after admitting possession of a firearm (an air rifle), found in a bedroom cupboard at his home in Eston, North Yorkshire, when he had been prohibited with a lifetime ban.
- A 21-year-old man has been jailed for 25 years after being found guilty of possessing an illegal gun with intent to endanger life, drugs offences and transferring a firearm. The man, whose car was found to have a bullet hole in the wing, was involved in a high-speed car chase in Birmingham, West Midlands involving another vehicle, from which an armed passenger pointed a sawn-off shotgun.
- A 38-year-old man has been handed a custodial sentence of seven-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to robbery, attempted robbery and two counts of possessing an imitation firearm (a sawn-off shotgun), which he pointed into the face of a member of staff in a post office in Borrowash, Derbyshire during a robbery.
- A 29-year-old woman has been jailed for four years and eight months after admitting robbery. She received a concurrent sentence of three months for possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. The woman had demanded that a shop worker in Eynesbury, Cambridgeshire open the till while threatening her with a BB gun.
- A 37-year-old man has been handed a 52-month sentence after admitting two offences of unlawful wounding. The man fired an air rifle at two children through their bedroom window in Wigan, Greater Manchester, hitting the 5-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl. The court heard that the children had been aiming toy guns at nearby trees when the man pulled up in his car and shot at them.
- Following the shooting of a man in Kettering, Northamptonshire, six people have been jailed for a total of 33 years. Their victim, a 36-year-old man, had to have a leg amputated due to the serious nature of his injuries.
- A 58-year-old man has been made subject to a hospital order, where his liberty will be restricted indefinitely, after shooting two men with an air pistol. The man returned to a pub in Leigh, Greater Manchester from which he had been banned, pointed what appeared to be a handgun at the landlord, who reported feeling a sharp pain below his collar bone, and went on to shoot a customer three times in the head. He also pointed the gun at other people as he walked home. The man, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, later told police officers he had obtained the air pistol because he believed his life was in danger.
- A 29-year-old man has been jailed for life after pleading guilty to importing and converting firearms, manufacturing ammunition and possessing firearms with intent to enable others to endanger life. A 48-year-old man received a sentence of twenty years for converting weapons, manufacturing ammunition and possessing ammunition without a firearms certificate. The pair, from Elstow, Bedfordshire, sourced blank-firing handguns and blank ammunition from the Czech Republic, converted and modified them, and sold them on to gangs in Luton, Bedford and Birmingham.
- Two men, aged 22 and 23 years, have been jailed for life, to serve a minimum of 30 years, after being convicted of murder. In a stolen car, the two men pulled up alongside their victim’s car in Southall, West London before one of them got out and shot him twice at point-blank range.
- A 29-year-old man has been jailed for ten-and-a-half-years after pleading guilty to robbery, possessing an imitation firearm and other offences. The man threatened two shop workers in Newport, South Wales with a firearm and stole £800. Both victims subsequently gave up their jobs as a result of the “pyschological harm” they suffered.
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, shotgun stolen from property in Treuddyn, Flintshire) corrupt licensed 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 — Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition, licensed gun owner in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire sentenced for threatening children.
Please see the endnote for further explanation of gun types and current legal status.
Figure 2: August 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. (See above — Gun Deaths, 43-year-old man died after he was Tasered by police in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.
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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