January 2022 Review

by Gun Control Network on 30-11--0001

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.

This Review refers to incidents that occurred during January 2022 and to earlier incidents for which further information has now been reported, often as a result of a court case or inquest. Please note that the data used for the Figures is derived solely from incidents that occurred, or first came to our attention, in January 2022.

                                             Figure 1: January 2022 incident reports by type

Gun Deaths

We monitor FATAL GUN INCIDENTS in Great Britain and compile a list that summarises the available information. Our summaries for 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-2021 are available at www.gun-control-network.org

We are not aware of any reports in January 2022 concerning gun deaths.   

Inquests

We are not aware of any reports in January 2022 relating to gun death inquests.

Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator

We are aware of four reports in January 2022 that we believe to relate to the above:

  • A 28-year-old man, formerly of Wallasey, Merseyside, has been jailed for eighteen months after pleading guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. In October last year, the man made abusive phone calls to his ex-partner, later sending her a video in which he made threatening comments while holding a gun. Police arrested him shortly afterwards but the firearm has not been recovered. The man, who suffers from ADHD and paranoid schizophrenia, was also handed a ten-year restraining order to keep away from his victim.
  • A 30-year-old man has been jailed for three years and nine months after pleading guilty to two counts of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. In September last year, at a pub in Warrington, Cheshire, the man showed a woman he knew an airgun and told her that he “had a job to do in Parr and would be paid £1,200.00 to do it”. Later the same evening, he approached two teenage boys and, after asking if they had a cigarette, pointed the gun at the head of one of the youths. He then walked away, telling the boys they had been “lucky”. When police officers arrested him at his home, they recovered a BB gun from a bedroom drawer. In a victim statement, one of the victims described how he had “genuinely thought that he was close to death”.
  • After allegedly threatening a woman known to him with a firearm at a property in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire, a man was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
  • A 54-year-old man has been handed a suspended twenty-month prison sentence with a four-month curfew and ordered to pay £1,500.00 compensation and £250 costs after admitting possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. Following a dispute over money, the man entered a neighbour’s house in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear and held him down on his bed while pointing a gun in his face. One of the man’s sons then punched the victim to the head with a knuckle-duster. The man subsequently warned his victim that he would shoot him if he went to the police. Claiming to have thrown the firearm into a river after the attack through “sheer panic” the man pleaded guilty on the basis that it was a BB gun. His son was previously given a community order after admitting actual bodily harm and possessing an offensive weapon.

Licensed/Former Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition, and Stolen Guns and Ammunition

We are aware of at least two reports in January 2022 that we believe to relate to the above:

  • A 31-year-old man has been handed a suspended 20-month prison term and ordered to complete 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and pay compensation costs after admitting possession of an imitation firearm at a time he was committing another offence and criminal damage. In October last year, the man used a homemade dumbbell to damage his partner’s home in Worcester, Worcestershire. Shortly afterwards, a member of the public alerted police after spotting the man sitting in his car with a firearm on his lap. He was subsequently shot in the leg by an armed police officer before being detained. The firearm was found to be a reproduction form of submachine gun.
  • Police appealed for information after a Winchester Rifle, two 12-bore shotguns, a .410 shotgun, a .22 air rifle and a Diana pellet gun were stolen from a firearms cabinet during a burglary at a home in Bobbington, Staffordshire.

We note at least twelve reports involving the use of police Tasers, including:

  • After mixing up his address with that of a suspect in his 30s, police officers Tasered an 80-year-old man at his home in Cricklewood, North London. The victim said that at least four officers “carrying machine guns” burst into his kitchen, shouting and shining torches in his face before Tasering him. They then kneeled on his back and handcuffed him. The man, who has a pacemaker for a heart condition, was released almost twelve hours after his arrest but has yet to receive an apology. He says he has been suffering with insomnia, shakes and heart palpitations since the incident. A spokesperson from Scotland Yard said the case had been referred to the police watchdog.
  • After being called to a domestic abuse incident at a property in Bolton, Greater Manchester, police officers used a Taser on a man who resisted arrest. As he ran away from the officers, the suspect fell onto railway tracks and was electrocuted by cables or wiring. After being rescued by firefighters, he was treated in hospital for serious injuries.
  • A 23-year-old man has been jailed for seven years after admitting robbery and making use of a firearm with intent to resist arrest. In May last year, police officers attempted to arrest him in Plymouth, Devon for his involvement in the knifepoint robbery of a vulnerable person in their own home. As he was being restrained on the ground after hitting one officer in the face, the man drew another officer’s Taser and shot him with it twice at close range. The court heard that the man had been prescribed anti-psychotic medication during a previous prison term but his health had not been managed following his release.

Animal Death and Injury

We are aware of at least three reports in January 2022 of animal cruelty and/or death involving a gun:

  • A stray cat has had his eye removed after vets in Glasgow, Scotland discovered he had been shot with an air rifle.
  • A cat has had a leg amputated after being shot with an air rifle in Halesworth, Suffolk.
  • A cat is recovering at home after being shot with a BB gun in Ipswich, Suffolk.

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.

N.B. Since January 2017, airgun owners in Scotland have been required to have a licence, and airgun crime in Scotland has decreased by one third.

Gun Control Network, The RSPCA, The Cats Protection League, other organisations and individuals are calling for similar legislation in England and Wales. MPs and families bereaved as a result of ‘child on child’ airgun fatalities are concerned about the failure to publish the outcome of a Home Office Review of air weapon regulations. In response, the Home Office has launched a further review which, at the outset, clearly rejects licensing for airgun owners in England and Wales.

Border Force and National Crime Agency

We are aware of at least one report in January 2022 relating to the above:

  • After he pleaded guilty to importing an imitation firearm and to possession of a prohibited weapon, a man was handed a suspended three-month prison term. In June 2020, Border Force officials recovered an imitation AR-15 assault rifle-style air weapon and a can of pepper spray after intercepting the man’s yacht off the coast of Pembroke, Pembrokeshire. Lead weights and an extra magazine had been added to the firearm. The man claimed to have bought the weapons in Tenerife in order to deter pirates during a trip to Trinidad; however, the judge said he found it difficult to accept that somebody as experienced as the man, would not be aware of differences in weapons laws between countries.

Sentences and Convictions 

We are aware of at least 41 reports in January 2022 of sentences and convictions for gun crime, including:

  • Four out of five men found guilty of firearms’ offences have been jailed for a total of over forty-two years. The fifth man will be sentenced at a later date. In September 2020, surveillance officers observed the first man putting something into the boot of a car outside business premises in Hackney, North London. After following the car as it was driven to Dagenham by a second man, the officers retrieved four Sig Sauer P226 handguns and 40 rounds of 9mm ammunition from the vehicle and both men were arrested at the scene. Subsequently, a Glock firearm and 20 rounds of 9mm ammunition were seized from an address linked to the first man while a Taser was found at an address linked to the other man. Expert analysis confirmed that the handguns and ammunition were viable and capable of causing lethal injuries. Mobile phone data revealed that three of the  men including a prison inmate, were also involved in the handguns’ trade.
  • Seven members of an organised crime group that supplied guns and ammunition to criminals in the Southeast have been jailed for a total of more than 60 years. A ringleader arranged the illegal trades, while a second man sourced the weapons. Three other men facilitated the sale of a .32 semi-automatic Webley pistol and eighteen rounds of ammunition to a buyer in Basildon, while a fourth and a fifth man sold a .45 calibre revolver in Hackney. Following surveillance operations, the sixth and seventh men were arrested in Grays, Essex in February 2021.
  • A 54-year-old man has been fined £1875 after admitting possessing a shotgun without a certificate. In February 2016, the man bought a “dilapidated” shotgun at a car boot sale, purportedly believing it to be an antique and planning to display it at his home; however, it ended up being left in the loft. After he and his wife split up, she bagged up some of his belongs to be taken to his new home before informing police that a shotgun was included among the items. In February 2019, armed police officers recovered the weapon from his new address in Airdrie, Lanarkshire. The court heard that the shotgun was not as old as the man believed and a firearms expert stated that it could still fire ammunition.
  • After pleading guilty to possessing an imitation firearm, a 25-year-old man was handed a suspended ten-month prison term and ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work and a rehabilitation requirement. In September 2019, the man’s neighbour intervened after seeing him arguing with his partner and “pushing and pulling” her about on the street in Wallsend, Tyne & Wear. The neighbour ran back into her house after he used threatening language and brandished what she believed was a handgun. Police officers arrested the man shortly afterwards and recovered an air weapon from his address.
  • Following a twelve-month investigation into drug trafficking and the criminal use of firearms by a gang based in Liverpool, Merseyside, eleven people have been jailed for a total of more than 56 years. All were sentenced for drug offences or participating in the activities of an organised crime group, while three also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess firearms and another man admitted possession of a firearm.
  • A 24-year-old man has been jailed for 21 years, with a consecutive extended licence of four years, for possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life, possession of a firearm, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of cocaine. In August 2020, armed police officers responded after a teenage boy was shot in the neck in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. The victim spent ten months in hospital after suffering injuries that resulted in restricted mobility from the neck down and paralysis from the waist down. Following a major investigation, the perpetrator was arrested a week later.
  • Following an investigation into the criminal use of the encrypted phone network, EncroChat, three men involved in drug and firearm deals have been jailed for a total of 48 years. The three men used Encrochat to deal Class A drugs in South Liverpool, St Helens and Knowsley, Merseyside. While one was employed as a courier, another used the network to send pictures of AK47 assault rifles, an UZI machine gun, pump action shotgun and Glock pistol to others and to discuss the importation of 50 Glock pistols from Holland. Evidence was also found that two of the men conspired to obtain grenades for a third party.
  • A 74-year-old man has been handed a suspended two-year prison term after admitting possessing a prohibited firearm, possessing firearms ammunition when prohibited, possessing firearm when prohibited for life, possessing a prohibited rifled gun, possessing a shotgun without holding a certificate, possessing a firearm without a firearm certificate, possessing criminal property and fraudulent evasion of duty. The man, who ran a charity from his home in Hartlepool, Co. Durham, collected items donated to him at a self-storage facility. In July 2019, police searched the premises and recovered a 9mm Heckler and Koch pistol, a working shortened double barrel shotgun, three spent cartridges, 45,000 cigarettes and a quantity of rolling tobacco, and £26,636 in cash. From his home address, officers seized a shotgun and a shotgun barrel, 16,000 cigarettes and 48 small bags of cannabis. The court heard that the man claimed the guns were found among donated items and that he had intended to hand them in during the next firearms amnesty; however, the judge pointed out that he had failed to do that. The man followed court proceedings from his bed at home, where he is being treated for a terminal illness.
  • A 24-year-old man has been jailed for five years and ordered to pay a £190 fine after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm and drug offences. In February 2021, police officers raided a property in Stockport, Greater Manchester and recovered around £100,000 worth of cocaine and other drugs. The man, present at the scene, told officers that two firearms, ammunition and knives, all belonging to him, were stored at the address. A search revealed a carrier bag containing a Glock 48 pistol, 9x9mm bullets and body armour. The man initially admitted possession of cocaine and cannabis for personal consumption; however, mobile phones analysis revealed he was “heavily involved in the sale of drugs”.
  • A man has been jailed for five years after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm, possession of a prohibited weapon and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. In July last year, after seeing figures with torches in the bushes outside a property in Moston, Manchester, surveillance officers discovered a box buried under an inch of soil outside the address. The box contained a Colt revolver, a Retay firearm, two bullets in a magazine, two bullets in a tissue and two shotgun cartridges. A further two shotgun cartridges and fifteen bullets were also found buried in the ground. Forensic examination of the revolver revealed the man’s DNA.
  • A 44-year-old man has been jailed for 25 years after admitting three counts of possessing a prohibited firearm, two counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, conspiracy to possess a prohibited firearm, possessing a prohibited smooth-bore gun, possessing ammunition without a firearm certificate and possessing explosives. When police officers searched the man’s home in Kirkby, Merseyside in May 2019, they recovered a handgun, ammunition, mobile phones, cash and a large quantity of Class A drugs. The firearm was subsequently forensically linked to him. Following sentencing, a police spokesperson said: “The result this week means that a dangerous criminal has been removed from our streets can no longer supply drugs and misery in our communities in Merseyside and beyond.”
  • A 35-year-old man has been jailed for one year after pleading guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, possessing a knife and possession of cannabis. In October last year, the man shouted at a neighbour who had parked outside his home in Warrington, Cheshire, ordering him to move his car. After the neighbour complied, the man threatened to kill him, scraping a knife along a wall and pointing a gun at him every time he moved. When he returned to his house, the victim drove to a nearby police station. Officers found the man, “extremely drunk” in the town centre shortly afterwards, where he told them that he had discarded the weapons. The court heard that he could not remember much about the incident, having consumed “a lot of drugs and alcohol”.
  • A 53-year-old man has been handed a suspended eight-month prison term and ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and pay costs after pleading guilty to possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear or distress. In June last year, a man called at his home in Harrogate, North Yorkshire to discuss the noise his dogs were making. He opened the front door holding what looked like a revolver, before putting it in a drawer and calling his dogs inside. When police responded, the man told them he used the BB weapon for target shooting with his son and had answered the doorbell with it, believing there could have been a “druggie knocking at the door”.
  • Two brothers have each been jailed for 24 years after being found guilty of attempted murder and attempting to wound with intent. In October 2019, following a dispute with her son, the brothers fired a sawn-off shotgun at a woman through the kitchen window of her home in Newcastle, Tyne & Wear. Pellets and flying glass left the woman with serious injuries to her back, arm and face. Two days later, following a separate quarrel, the duo shot a man in his flat, injuring his ear and leg. The court heard that the woman victim “no longer stands near or looks out of her windows and feels so nervous when she hears a loud bang that she has to stay in her home when there are fireworks”. One of the brothers was also sentenced for possessing ammunition when prohibited, while the other admitted possessing a firearm while prohibited. Both siblings faced additional, unrelated, charges. 

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, 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.

Please see the endnote for further explanation of gun types and current legal status.

                                   Figure 2: January 2022 reports by weapon type

Notes

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. The Home Office fails to publish data regarding the number of Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition involved in non-fatal crime. 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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