October 2015 Review
by Gun Control Network on 01-11-2015
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: October 2015 incident reports by type
We are aware of at least five reports of gun deaths, including two new gun deaths, in October 2015:
A 41-year-old man was shot dead by armed police who were called to his house in St Neots, Cambridgeshire after reported concerns for the safety of people in the family home. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has begun an investigation.
A 19-year-old student died in hospital after being shot in the stomach in Kings Norton, West Midlands. Up to seven people have been arrested in connection with his murder.
We are aware of at least three inquests in October 2015 relating to gun deaths:
- An inquest into the death of Robert Walton, 66, found that he took his own life with a shotgun. Following suicide threats and revelations about firearms components made to his GP the mental health team was alerted. Police officers visited the victim at home in Dinnington, South Yorkshire and noted two airguns in a corner but decided he was not a danger to himself. An IPCC investigation found that officers had taken reasonable and proportionate action.
- An inquest into the death of Andrew Pimlott, 32, of Plymouth, Devon found that his death was “most likely” caused by being shot by a police Taser while doused in petrol. An IPCC investigation has called for officers to be given more comprehensive guidance about the use of stun guns in the presence of flammable liquids.
- An inquest into the death of Dean Joseph, 40, shot dead by police in Islington, north London where he was holding his former girlfriend hostage, found he was “lawfully killed”. An IPCC investigation criticised the Metropolitan Police for the use in police reports of a highly inappropriate and insensitive pseudonym for one of the officers involved, which complicated proceedings since it is the nickname of the standard issue police rifle also used in the incident.
Armed Domestic Violence
We are aware of at least one report relating to armed domestic violence in October 2015.
Luke Moyes, a former soldier, has been jailed for 22 months for shooting his partner and her two friends with an electric automatic ball-bearing rifle at her home in Chorley, Lancashire.
Licensed Gun Owners/Legal Guns
We are aware of at least five reports relating to licensed guns in October 2015, including the theft of 25 licensed guns from a number of homes. A farmer also accidentally shot himself in the hand with his presumed licensed shotgun while carrying out a check on livestock in Bridgnorth, Shropshire.
We are aware of reports in October 2015 regarding the theft of at least 25 licensed guns:
- Twelve licensed guns including ten shotguns with ammunition, a pigeon sporting gun, and an air rifle have been stolen from a farmhouse in Humbleton, East Yorkshire.
- A double-barrelled shotgun and ammunition were stolen from a home in the outskirts of Aberdeen. It is not known if the licensed gun was stored in accordance with the conditions of the licence at the time of the theft.
- Three men have been jailed and one woman has been handed a one-year community order, following the theft of eight licensed shotguns and ammunition from a house in Wimborne, Dorset.
- A man has been jailed for four years for stealing three licensed working shotguns and a rifle with a silencer from the home of his acquaintances in Stourbridge, West Midlands. The guns were not located and police fear they were sold for criminal use.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least nine reports of animal cruelty in October 2015, all involving airguns or suspected airguns. A protected red squirrel and a swan have been shot dead. A number of cats and kittens have been injured, including one who had to have his leg amputated. Two of the cats injured this month had been injured in earlier airgun attacks.
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 22 reports of sentences and convictions related to gun crime in October 2015:
- A man has been handed an 18-month suspended prison sentence with a rehabilitation requirement after pleading guilty to possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and making threats to kill at his home in Spartylea, Firearms officers were deployed to the property, from which two air rifles were recovered. Rogers stated he had felt suicidal and wanted police to kill him.
- A woman has been jailed for three years and six months after being found guilty of hiding an Olympic revolver - originally a blank firer converted to fire live ammunition - at her flat in Barking, east London.
- A former police officer has been jailed for five and a half years after a handgun, ammunition, and drugs were discovered when his vehicle was searched near Manchester.
- A man has been jailed for ten years after being arrested with a loaded shotgun near the Burgess Hill, West Sussex home of a man who had been in a relationship with his former girlfriend. Styles had previously threatened to kill the man.
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.
Please see Notes and Gun Types and Issues page for further explanation of gun types and current legal status.
Figure 2: October 2015 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 do not apply retrospectively.
There is no legal definition of ‘antique’, and although antique guns are 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 will be required to be licensed.
Guns that require a licence: shotguns and rifles
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.); Tasers; submachine guns; Olympic-model starting pistols; and ‘other’ (pepper spray/CS gas, homemade 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 imitation or other guns that looks like handguns, resulting in misleading inflated reports of handgun crime.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.