April 2022 Review
by Gun Control Network on 13-05-2022
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 April 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 April 2022.
Figure 1: April 2022 incident reports by type
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, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 are available at www.gun-control-network.org
We are aware of three reports in April 2022 concerning gun deaths:
- A man died in hospital after being shot in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. A man has since been charged with murder and possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence. Police have appealed for information.
- A man died in hospital shortly after being shot in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. The victim was sitting in a car at a carwash facility when several shots were fired towards the vehicle. The suspected attackers fled in a car that was later found burnt out. Police have appealed for information.
- A man’s body was found near his car on Great Orme, North Wales earlier this month by a member of the public and a note, indicating that he intended to take his own life, was discovered at his home. Following a post-mortem examination, a provisional cause of death was given as shotgun injuries to the chest.
We are aware of two reports in April 2022 concerning a gun death inquest:
- The coroner at the inquest into the death of a man in Jedburgh, Scottish Borders in September last year has recorded a verdict of suicide, cause of death being a gunshot wound to the head. The deceased, a certified holder of a number of shotguns used for pest control and a handgun adapted to dispatch sick livestock, was found dead inside his flat by his son. He had used the modified handgun to end his life. The man, said to have been in a “low mood” before his death, had previously been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, though he was not known to local mental health services.
- The coroner at the inquest into the death of a man in December last year has recorded a verdict of suicide, cause of death being a traumatic gunshot injury to the head. A dog-walker found the man’s body next to a river between Kings Bromley and Yoxall, Staffordshire, and a gun was recovered at the scene. One of two guns, legally held by the deceased, was subsequently found to be missing from a gun cabinet at his home. The man’s family said that he had not shown any signs of depression prior to his death.
Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator
We are aware of ten reports in April 2022 that we believe to relate to the above:
- A 22-year-old man has been jailed for 32 months after pleading guilty to unlawful possession of a knuckle duster and two charges of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. One night in August 2020, the man demanded that his girlfriend visit him at his home in Bradford, West Yorkshire. When the woman’s mother and brother also turned up, being concerned about his previous controlling behaviour, the man produced an air rifle. He placed it on the mother’s lips and threatened to shoot her and her son. The perpetrator was arrested shortly afterwards, in possession of a knuckle duster. In impact statements, both victims described suffering flashbacks and sleepless nights.
- A 27-year-old man has been jailed for three years after pleading guilty to possessing a prohibited firearm (stun gun), assault by beating by using it on his partner, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and possessing a prohibited firearm (pepper spray). After losing his temper because she was unable to transfer photos onto a new phone, the man kicked his partner, hit her about the head with her own shoes and tried to choke her. Following her escape, the woman revealed that the man had previously used a stun gun disguised as a mobile phone against her leg. Police officers subsequently found the stun gun and a pepper spray at the perpetrator’s home in Birtley, Tyne and Wear.
- A 22-year-old man has been jailed for two-and-a-half years after admitting causing grievous bodily harm. After smoking crack cocaine In February this year, the man attacked his partner at their home in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. He punched her, pushed her to the floor, repeatedly stamped on her left leg and threatened her with a Taser. The victim was only allowed to go to hospital after her leg became blue and swollen, and a friend intervened. She subsequently had surgery to correct two shin fractures, which she told hospital staff had been caused by a fall on some stairs. The matter was referred to police and, after initially denying violence, the man admitted the attack. He was also served with a ten-year restraining order banning him from contacting the victim, going to her home, or posting anything about her on social media.
- A 23-year-old man from Birmingham, West Midlands, has been jailed for seven years after being found guilty of wounding with intent. Following a disagreement with a friend in September last year, the man shot him in the thigh with a BB gun. The victim required a hospital procedure to remove a ball bearing from his leg and suffered significant psychological consequences, including anxiety and loss of appetite. On sentencing, the judge said: “This was a highly dangerous weapon. There was an element of revenge in what you did, having been angered and humiliated by the victim in front of your peers. There was some premeditation.”
- A 38-year-old man has been placed under supervision for one year after admitting assault. In the summer of 2020, the man shot an 8-year-old boy in the back with a BB gun in the bedroom of his home in Glasgow, Scotland. The boy, who suffered marks to the skin, told police that his assailant then put the gun in a bin and apologised. The man was cleared of further charges, including shooting a boy with a BB gun.
- A 37-year-old man has been jailed for eighteen months after pleading guilty to assaulting his wife to her injury, possession of a prohibited weapon, and threatening and abusive behaviour. In April last year, the man discharged a stun gun up to seven times as he pressed it against his wife’s body. He went on to kick her after she fell to the floor. A young boy, who was in the couple’s flat in Aberdeen, Scotland at the time of the attack, hid in a bedroom in fear. Neighbours alerted the police after hearing screaming and the man was removed from the property.
- A 37-year-old man from Worcester, Worcestershire, has been jailed for fifteen months after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm, possession of ammunition (45 9mm cartridges) without a certificate and production and possession of a small amount of cannabis for personal use. In July and August last year, the man used an airsoft gun he had bought at a car boot sale to shoot at his teenage son at least ten times in the arms, legs and body. The victim, described as vulnerable, told colleagues at work about the abuse. The judge also handed the man a five-year restraining order prohibiting him from having any contact with his son.
- A 21-year-old man has been ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to having an imitation firearm without lawful authority or reasonable excuse and behaving in a threatening or abusive manner. He was also handed a night curfew and put under supervision for two years. Following an argument with his sister in May last year, the man brandished an imitation handgun outside a nursery in Glasgow, Scotland. His sister and an onlooker were alarmed, not knowing whether the gun was real or fake. The man was arrested shortly afterwards and the gun was recovered from underneath a rubbish bag nearby.
- A 32-year-old man has been jailed for two years and three months after pleading guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause violence. In May 2020, following a row with his mother at her home in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, she locked him out of the property. Her son then abused a neighbour and told her he was going to shoot his mother in the head. After taking an air pistol from his pocket, he fired it into a fence. The man was also handed a restraining order preventing him from contacting his mother.
- A 19-year-old from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, has been handed a suspended sixteen-month prison term with 45 days of rehabilitative activities and a nightly curfew after pleading guilty to wounding his older brother and threatening his younger brother with an imitation firearm. In May 2020, the man pinned his older brother against a wall and either threw a bottle at him or hit him with it, leaving him with mouth injuries that required stitches. Later the same evening, he threatened his younger brother with a pellet-loading pistol, leaving him in fear of his life. The court heard that the man had a problem with alcohol and suffers from attention deficit and hyperactive disorder.
Licensed/Former Licensed Gun Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition, and Stolen Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least five reports in April 2022 that we believe to relate to the above:
- See Inquests above — A licensed gun owner from the Scottish Borders took his own life with a modified handgun used to dispatch livestock.
- A licensed gun owner from Staffordshire took his own life with a shotgun.
- A firearms officer shot a man after police responded to an incident at a property in Inverness, Scottish Highlands. The victim is said to be seriously injured.
- Thieves broke into a shop in Ripon, North Yorkshire and stole items including two air rifles and a vintage pistol.
- Two men and a teenage boy were arrested after motocross bikes, tools and an air rifle were stolen from outbuildings at an address in Sutton Benger, Wiltshire.
We are aware of at least five reports involving the use of police Tasers.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least eleven reports in April 2022 of animal cruelty and/or death involving a gun, including:
- It has emerged that a man reportedly shot a neighbour’s cat with an airgun in Thatcham, Berkshire in January last year. He has since been charged with causing £600.44 worth of criminal damage in connection with the shooting and possessing a firearm without holding a current firearm certificate. The case will be heard in Crown Court at a date yet to be arranged.
- Magistrates in Swindon, Wiltshire have fined a man £200 and ordered him to pay costs and a victim surcharge after he shot down a gull flying above his home. The man claimed to have let off an air rifle, intending only to scare away a group of noisy birds. He later stated, “I have to accept that went wrong.”
- Reports have been posted on social media about cats being shot with air weapons in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The West Yorkshire Police Wildlife and Rural Crime team has urged people to get in touch if they have any information about the attacks.
- After they pleaded guilty to trespassing in pursuit of game in July last year, four men have each been fined between £675 and £900, and ordered to pay costs. After receiving reports that the men had been seen trespassing on farmland in Cashmoor, Dorset as they shot at hares from moving vehicles, police officers arrested all four of them at the scene and seized items, including an air rifle.
- A cat sustained a serious stomach injury after being shot in Leicestershire; a 6-month-old kitten died after being shot in Scotland and a cat had to have an eye removed after being shot twice in the head in Staffordshire.
- A buzzard was found shot dead in Scotland; a swan was found shot dead in Worcestershire and, after a number of animals were found injured at a Nature Reserve in the West Midlands, police seized an air weapon from a person nearby.
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, Cats Protection, 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 April 2022 relating to the above:
- A 28-year-old man has been jailed for seven years after being found guilty of importation of a firearm, attempted possession of a firearm, attempted possession of ammunition and importation of drugs. In July 2020, Border Force officers in Coventry intercepted a parcel from Florida containing a locked metal safe that held a Brazilian Taurus Arms pistol, a magazine with nine 9mm cartridges and 352g of skunk cannabis. Specialist officers replaced the contents with a listening device and sent the parcel on to its intended destination in Elephant and Castle, Central London. On collecting the package and realising his plan had gone awry, the man tried to dump it in undergrowth near his home, unaware he was under surveillance. He claimed his drug dealer had asked him to collect the package as a way of cancelling a drugs debt; however, WhatsApp messages revealed he had discussed importing the weapon with an unidentified accomplice.
Sentences and Convictions
We are aware of at least 51 reports in April 2022 of sentences and convictions for gun crime, including:
- A 17-year-old youth has been jailed for nine years and eight months, with an extended three years on licence, after admitting conspiring to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, conspiring to commit arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered and conspiracy to supply cannabis. While head of a group of teenage drug dealers in Liverpool, Merseyside, the youth became involved in a feud between two families, targeting their members and associates. The teenager and another male carried out two shootings with a Glock semi-automatic gun that resulted in the homes of innocent families being hit by bullets. The firearm has not been recovered. The youth also instructed others to carry out an arson attack that caused a mother and her children to flee their burning home.
- A 73-year-old man has been handed a twelve-month community order, to include fifteen rehabilitation activity requirement days, after pleading guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. In February this year, after the electricity went off in his flat at a sheltered housing complex in Salford, Greater Manchester, the man shouted outside his neighbour’s door, believing him to be an electrician. When the neighbour opened the door, the man pointed an imitation gun at him. After a brief struggle, the neighbour managed to shut the door and alert police. The firearm was found to contain six gold bullets and be capable of firing working ammunition, “though not at an energy level to make it a formal firearm”.
- Four members of a gang involved in drug dealing and weapon possession have been jailed for a total of more than 42 years. In January 2021, police officers raided a woman’s home in Manchester and recovered ammunition, a firearm and two grenades that contained explosives capable of causing serious injury and, possibly, death. Mobile phone evidence revealed messages linking her to three male co-conspirators. DNA belonging to one of the men was found on the grenades, firearm and ammunition. Further raids at linked addresses resulted in the recovery of two handguns at the address of another man, both of which revealed his DNA, and large quantities of cocaine, heroin and cannabis at two other properties. Sentences for the four conspirators ranged from twenty-one years and three months to four years and eight months.
- A woman, who is now aged 21, has been jailed for three years after being convicted of being in charge of a prohibited weapon and possession of ammunition. In October 2018, she was looking after a sawn-off shotgun and ammunition for someone, having been “groomed by a person she was besotted by”. The weapon and six live 12-bore cartridges were taken into school in Kempston, Bedfordshire by a fellow teenage pupil, where they were discovered at the bottom of his rucksack, wrapped in sports gear inside a sports shop bag. The young woman’s fingerprint was found on the drawstring of the sports bag and police found text messages from her asking the boy not to say anything about the firearm.
- A 26-year-old man has been jailed for 26 years after being found guilty of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm, conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life, possession of a prohibited firearm, conspiracy to supply firearms and ammunition and drugs offences. Reportedly acting on behalf of another person, the 26-year-old arranged for a man to be shot in April 2020. Together with two co-conspirators the 26-year-old drove to the intended victim’s address in Warrington, Cheshire, where one of the other men mistakenly shot the target’s stepfather on his doorstep, causing life-changing injuries to his leg. The other drove away from the scene. Following his arrest, detectives discovered messages on the criminal phone network, Encrochat, revealing that two of the men had conspired to obtain a Glock pistol, later located in an extractor fan at an address linked to one of them. The two co-conspirators have since been jailed for twenty-two years and fourteen years, respectively.
- A 35-year-old man and from Widnes, Cheshire, has been jailed for eighteen years and four months after admitting conspiring to possess, purchase or acquire prohibited firearms, and possession of prohibited firearms. The court heard that the man and his father were running a nationwide drug wholesale business when police obtained information that rivals were planning to attack their family with hand grenades. After police officers formally warned the men of the threat to their lives, the 35-year-old used the criminal encrypted phone network, Encrochat, to try to buy an AK47, a Glock 17, a Grand Power pistol, a Walther PPK handgun, ammunition and what is thought to have been an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. He already owned two firearms and had offered two Rolex watches to help pay for more. His father was sentenced for drug offences.
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: April 2022 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. 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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