September 2021 Review

by Gun Control Network on 15-10-2021

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 September 2021 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 September 2021.

                                        Figure 1: September 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 and 2019-20 are available at www.gun-control-network.org

 We are aware of at least three reports in September 2021 concerning gun deaths:

  • After responding to reports of gunshots in Leyton, East London, police officers found a teenage boy who had suffered a gunshot wound. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene shortly afterwards. No arrests have yet been reported.  
  • A man died and two women were injured after one of two people on a moped reportedly opened fire on a group of people in Brixton, South London. Emergency personnel attended the male victim but he was declared dead at the scene. Both women were treated in hospital for injuries not thought to be life changing. Police issued a description of the moped and appealed for information.
  • One man died at the scene and two men were injured after a shooter opened fire on a street in Haringey, North London. Shortly after the attack, a man self-presented at a nearby hospital with gunshot wounds, while another was taken to hospital after being found injured at home. Both wounded men suffered injuries not believed to be life-threatening. Four men have since been arrested on suspicion of murder.   

Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator

We are aware of at seven reports in September 2021 which we believe to be armed domestic violence and/or victim known to perpetrator, including:

  • A man has been jailed for one year after pleading guilty to battery, criminal damage and affray. In May this year, he brandished an air rifle at his partner at her home in Swansea, Wales during an argument. After the woman ran into the garden, he told her he was going to kill her and fired the weapon at her a number of times. The woman managed to avoid being hit and escaped back inside, locking the door behind her. She let the man back in after he smashed windows and kicked at the door. Armed police officers, alerted by neighbours, arrested the man at the scene shortly afterwards. The court heard that the man’s partner did not support his prosecution but the judge said he had a “public duty beyond the victim’s wishes”.
  • A 32-year-old man has been handed a 27-year prison term after being found guilty of attempted murder. In January this year, he shot his ex-partner in the face with a converted handgun loaded with home-made ammunition at her home in Derby, Derbyshire. The attack was carried out the day before she was due in court to apply for a non-molestation order against him. Armed police officers arrested the man in his car and recovered a blank firearm magazine, a blank-firing round, the instructions for a blank-firing pistol and a number of metal pellets. His victim suffered a shattered cheekbone and needed surgery to remove a ball bearing.
  • A 29-year-old man has been handed a two-year suspended sentence after being convicted of assault by beating and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. Following a “drink and drugs binge” in June last year, the man forced his way into his partner’s house in Resolven, Neath Port Talbot and held a BB gun to her head while threatening to kill her. Knowing that her partner kept guns, she believed the firearm to be real. The court heard that the couple had had an argument earlier in the day and he was aware that his partner had made an accusation to police about him. He was made the subject of a five-year restraining order and ordered to complete a six-month drug rehabilitation order with twenty drug rehabilitation days. He must also abide by an eighteen-month electronic monitoring requirement.
  • A 26-year-old man and a 28-year-old man have each been jailed for twenty-seven years after being found guilty of attempted murder and possession of firearms. In January this year, the pair fled after firing shots towards a group of people on a street in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Their target was a man with whom they had argued earlier in the day; however, the man’s mother was hit in the shoulder, face and head. When their intended victim chased them, he was shot in the arms and hands. The perpetrators were arrested after a police officer, attending an unrelated incident nearby, called for backup.
  • A 20-year-old man has been jailed for nine-and-a-half years after admitting aggravated burglary with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, harassment, and two counts of possessing an imitation firearm with the intent to cause fear of violence. After a short relationship with a vulnerable girl broke down in February this year, he sent her abusive messages and threatened to disclose intimate photographs of her. When the girl confronted him at his flat in Birmingham, West Midlands, he fired a BB gun at her up to three times. He went on to point a gun at the girl and her stepfather at their home and threatened to murder everyone in the family, petrol bomb the property and smash up the family car. Two weeks later, he started threatening the girl again and returned to her family home where he fired a BB gun five times at her stepfather before running off.  He later climbed into the house through a window, armed with a butterfly knife. After the stepfather trapped him in a bedroom, the man attacked the door with a machete before eventually leaving the property. The court heard that the girl and her family have suffered sleepless nights, anxiety and flashbacks since the attacks.

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

We are aware of at least one report in September 2021 which we believe to relate to the above:

  • After he stole a paintball gun from a house in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, a 30-year-old man of no fixed abode was handed a two-year community order with a 30-day rehabilitation requirement and a six-month drug rehabilitation requirement, having admitted burglary. The court heard that the man intended to sell the firearm to raise money to buy heroin and food. 

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

  • A 30-year-old man has been jailed for two years after pleading guilty to robbery and affray, while his 36-year-old brother received a suspended two-year sentence for robbery and was ordered to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work and 30 rehabilitation days. In January last year, the younger brother threatened a teenage boy with an imitation firearm after the brothers stole the youngster’s wallet in Newtown, Powys. When confronted by the victim’s mother, the younger brother said to her, “I could rape you and put a bullet in you” before pushing her away. After another teenager intervened, the brothers kicked and stamped on him. Armed police Tasered the duo after they resisted arrest at the scene.
  • A 46-year-old serving police officer has been handed an eighteen-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £250 costs and £250 compensation after admitting assault. In June 2018, the police officer was sent to an address in Duckinfield, Greater Manchester following a report of concern for a suicidal man. The officer spoke with the man before discharging his Taser three times at him when he refused to cooperate and became abusive. The court heard that the police officer was summonsed to court following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. The judge said that though the officer had conducted himself perfectly properly to begin with, in the scope of his responsibilities, he had gone “somewhat beyond that” and had acted unlawfully. He will face disciplinary proceedings but hopes to continue to serve as a police officer.

Animal Death and Injury

We are aware of at least five reports in September 2021 of animal cruelty and/or death involving a gun, including:

  • Five birds found dead at a pond in Holbury, Hampshire, had been shot in the head. The birds, including two mallard and a coot, were found by a woman and her children who had come to feed them. A spokesperson from a local conservation group said that a country watch police team had confirmed to him that, with no eyewitnesses and little evidence, there may not be much they can do.
  • The police and RSPCA have appealed for information after a cat was shot in Bury, Greater Manchester. The pet is recovering after having her shattered leg amputated. A second cat has died following emergency surgery after he was shot in the stomach with an air rifle in Duffryn, Glamorgan. A third cat had a leg amputated after being shot with an airgun in Rushmere St. Andrew, Suffolk and a fourth cat underwent emergency surgery for severe leg injuries after being shot with an air rifle in Stibbington, Cambridgeshire.

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 two reports of illegal firearms in September 2021:

  • Following a series of raids carried out by the National Crime Agency in Liverpool, Merseyside, a man has been charged with drug offences, money laundering and to possess for sale or transfer prohibited firearms and ammunition without the authority of the Secretary of State.
  • Two brothers have been jailed for a total of thirty-eight years for gun importation offences. In April and September 2018, police officers intercepted shipments from Holland to the UK that contained guns, silencers and ammunition. The first shipment, found hidden in a lorry at Dover, contained six guns, including a pistol and a revolver, as well as silencers and ammunition. The serial numbers had been removed from the firearms and their barrels had been threaded to attach silencers. The second consignment, comprising ten additional pistols, each packaged with 25 live rounds, was discovered concealed in a car on a low-loader at the docks in Killingholme, Lincolnshire. Following sentencing, a National Crime Agency spokesperson said: “Had this significant quantity of lethal weapons reached the criminal marketplace, there is no doubt they would have been used to inflict violence and fear in our communities and put the British public in serious danger. 

Sentences and Convictions 

We are aware of at least 50 reports in September 2021 of sentences and convictions for gun crime, including:

  • A 19-year-old man has been jailed for six years, to serve a further three years on licence, after pleading guilty to robbery, two counts of attempted robbery and three of possession of a blade in public.  In November last year, he threatened staff with what looked like a handgun at a restaurant in Leeds, West Yorkshire. After being told there was no money on the premises, he discharged the gun before fleeing. The following day, he threatened a shop owner with a gun saying, “Give me your money or I will kill you.” However, he fled when his target chased him with a mop. Just over a week later, the man handed himself in at a police station carrying a bag that contained a Samurai sword. A box for a hand-held gun was subsequently recovered from his home address. After being released on bail, he went on to threaten a shop worker with a knife before stealing £650. The staff member later identified the 19-year-old as the attacker. The court heard that the man’s victims had feared for their lives, with some suffering from anxiety.
  • A 56-year-old man has been handed a 20-month suspended sentence for twelve counts of possession of a firearm and a concurrent one-month suspended prison term for possession of a weapon designed or adapted for the discharge of a noxious gas or other thing. Police officers recovered weapons including handguns, a pistol, BB guns and a semi-automatic blank pistol from the man’s caravan in Shipley, as well as from a wardrobe at his partner’s home and his empty home address in Thornton, West Yorkshire. The court heard that the man had bought nine or ten replica firearms and BB guns from a website based in the Czech Republic, believing them to be legal. On sentencing, the judge said that he accepted the man had “bought the firearms to collect them rather than to fire them” and that he had not realised the “pistols could be made lethal with modification”. The man was also ordered to pay £10,000 costs and undertake fifteen rehabilitation days.
  • Three men, aged 36, 20 and 38, have been jailed for fifteen years, twelve years and twelve years, seven months, respectively, for their involvement in a shooting in November last year. Hired by the first two men, the third man fired seven bullets from a self-loading pistol at an occupied house in Leeds, West Yorkshire, with one bullet going through the kitchen window. No one was injured. The court heard that the first man had arranged the shooting, possibly as a revenge attack after the stepson of the second man suffered a violent assault. The first two men were found guilty of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, while the third pleaded guilty to the same charge.
  • A 33-year-old man has been jailed for life, to serve a minimum term of 40 years, after being found guilty of murdering two men. In September last year, he lured the men to a meeting in a car in Dudley, West Midlands before shooting them both from the back seat. Both men died almost instantaneously. The court heard that the victims had become “increasingly frustrated”  by the man’s failure to pay them £400,000 for work they had carried out for him and that he had killed them in order to maintain his lavish lifestyle.
  • A woman has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for her involvement in the revenge shooting of a teenage male in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear in August 2019. The woman was found guilty of trying to cover up the attack by disposing of the gun used. Her ex-partner and his two daughters were jailed in March for their part in the shooting.
  • A man has been jailed for five years and two months after admitting possessing a shotgun without a firearms certificate and cannabis production. The man was arrested as he tried to flee the cannabis factory he was guarding in Leicester, Leicestershire when it was ram-raided by rival growers in January this year. Police officers recovered a loaded double-barrelled shotgun at the scene and found a shotgun cartridge in the man’s pocket. A shotgun, loaded with two similar cartridges, was subsequently found under a bed at the man’s home.  His mobile phone revealed photos of him and another man holding pistols and a video of him at a party where a gun was fired into the air. The court heard that the man was smuggled into the UK from Albania last November and had been working at the cannabis factory to repay a large debt.
  • A 37-year-old man has been sentenced to twelve years in prison after being convicted of wounding with intent, possessing a prohibited firearm, possessing ammunition without a firearms certificate, possessing ammunition while prohibited and possessing a firearm when prohibited. After he stabbed a man in the neck in May last year, police officers arrested him at his girlfriend’s house in Bury, Greater Manchester. From behind a shed, they recovered a rucksack that contained an unloaded revolver and three rounds of ammunition. Cocaine worth around £9,500 was also found on the premises. The knife used in the attack has not been found.
  • After he used an airsoft pistol to cause another person to believe that unlawful violence would be used against him, a 17-year-old youth from Leigh, Essex was referred to the Southend youth offender panel for a four-month contract and fined £77.
  • A 19-year-old man and a teenage boy, who cannot be named, have been handed custodial sentences of eleven years, two months and eight years, ten months, respectively, for their involvement in a string of violent robberies. Over a two-month period, the offenders used knives, hammers and imitation firearms to threaten or injure fifteen people, before stealing their belongings. The attacks took place in Long Eaton, Skegness and Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, with the level of violence used having “a significant impact on the victims”. The 19-year-old pleaded guilty to seventeen offences including eleven counts of robbery, two counts of attempted robbery, one count of possession of a bladed article, two counts of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and one count of possession of an offensive weapon. His teenage accomplice pleaded guilty to nineteen similar offences.
  • A 72-year-old man was handed a suspended two-year custodial sentence, made the subject of a twelve-month community order and ordered to pay £1,500 in court costs after he pleaded guilty to three counts of possessing a prohibited firearm, four counts of possessing a firearm without a firearm certificate and five counts of possessing ammunition without a firearm certificate. In November 2019, when police officers visited the man’s home in Machen, Caerphilly to investigate a neighbour dispute, they discovered he kept prohibited pistols and ammunition. From a locked case, they recovered firearms including a 12-bore shotgun, a long rifle, a Winchester rifle, a pistol, a revolver and two revolvers. The court heard that he kept the firearms as part of his military memorabilia collection and had no intention of using them as weapons. The firearms and ammunition confiscated will now be placed in a museum. 
  • Having been charged with firearms and driving offences, two 18-year-olds have each been handed a two-year Youth Referral Order and been disqualified from driving, with one also being ordered to complete sixty hours of unpaid work. At age sixteen, the pair stole clothing and valuables from two teenagers in Manchester after one pushed a gun into one victim’s head and the other held a knife to the neck of the second victim. Following a high-speed pursuit later that day, the offenders were arrested by police who had spotted them driving a stolen car. A gas-powered pistol, found in the vehicle, subsequently revealed DNA from one of the offenders.  While on bail, that man, along with three others, carried out a second violent robbery, during which a student was kicked and punched. The man told his victim that he had his “shotty” with him but the court heard that this item was probably a stick. On sentencing, the judge said the offenders may have been acting under “pressure” from others.

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: September 2021 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. 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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