August 2022 Review

by Gun Control Network on 16-09-2022

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 August 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 August 2022.

                                       Figure 1: August 2022 incident reports by type

Gun Deaths

We monitor FATAL GUN INCIDENTS in Great Britain and compile lists that summarise the available information. Our summaries for 2017 to 2022 are available at www.gun-control-network.org

We are aware of five reports in August 2022 concerning gun deaths:

  • A young girl has died after being shot inside her home in Liverpool, Merseyside. After the girl’s mother opened her front door on hearing a commotion outside, two men, one chasing the other, burst into their home. As the woman tried to close the door against them, one of the men allegedly fired a gun. The bullet injured the woman’s wrist before it hit her daughter in the chest. The man then fired two shots at the second man’s upper body before fleeing on foot. The injured man was collected by car and taken to hospital. Responding police officers took the young girl straight to hospital where she died shortly afterwards. Two men have since been arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.
  • A woman died in hospital shortly after she was found with gunshot wounds in the garden of her home in Liverpool, Merseyside. Police believe the victim was not the intended target of the attack. A man and a woman have since been arrested.
  • A man was pronounced dead in hospital shortly after being shot in Liverpool, Merseyside. It is believed the victim was shot by assailants who arrived at the scene on two electric bikes. Two men and one teenage male have since been arrested on suspicion of murder.
  • A man has died after being shot on a street in Walthamstow, East London. The victim was rushed to hospital by family members but was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. Police are treating the incident as a “targeted attack”.
  • A 47-year-old man has been fatally shot on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, in a series of attacks involving other victims known to the perpetrator, a licensed gun owner. Police officers arrested the shooter after Tasering him.

Inquests

We are aware of one report in August 2022 concerning the verdict of a gun death inquest: 

  • The coroner at the inquest into the death of a man in March this year has recorded a verdict of suicide, cause of death being a gunshot wound to the head. The man shot himself with one of his three legally-held shotguns in the garage of his home in Chadsmoor, Staffordshire. The inquest heard that he had been suffering health and financial difficulties, and that his mother had recently passed away.

Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator

We are aware of three reports in August 2022 that we believe to relate to the above:

  • See Gun Deaths above — A man has died in a multiple shooting in Scotland.
  • A 26-year-old man has been jailed for fourteen months after pleading guilty to possession of an imitation firearm and two counts each of criminal damage, assaulting an emergency worker and drug possession. After his ex-partner refused to let him see their son when he turned up unexpectedly at her home in Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, he smashed a window and brandished a realistic-looking gun, saying, “I've already shot two people and I'll be shooting someone else.” After his arrest, he punched two police officers in the face. The judge imposed a five-year restraining order and instructed the perpetrator to pay a £156 victim surcharge.
  • A 25-year-old man has been jailed for two-and-a-half years and banned from keeping firearms for five years after admitting inflicting grievous bodily harm. In September 2020, the man fired a gas-powered ball-bearing gun at a colleague at the pub where they worked in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The metal ball bearing lodged in the man’s left eye and had to be surgically removed. The victim has lost stereoscopic vision, which affects his ability to carry out day-to-day activities, and suffers ongoing nightmares and depression. The court heard that the perpetrator had been “bullying and intimidating” his victim in the weeks before the attack.

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

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

  • See Gun Deaths above — A man died after being shot by a licensed gun owner in Scotland.
  • See Inquests above — A man took his own life with his legally-held shotgun in Staffordshire.
  • A 47-year-old man has been fined £500 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge after pleading guilty to culpably and recklessly discharging a shotgun. During a party at his home in Sandwick, Shetland Isles, the man fired his shotgun outside and allowed a 12-year-old child to do the same. The shots were heard by “concerned neighbours”. The man has since surrendered his firearms licence and forfeited the shotgun.
  • An Inquiry into the death of army sergeant, who was fatally shot during a live fire exercise at Castlemartin base, Pembrokeshire in March last year, has found that he was killed as a result of several "deviations from policy and actions". One contributory factor identified was that the soldier who reportedly fired the weapon was not wearing the necessary corrective prescription lenses at the time of the exercise. A criminal investigation remains ongoing.
  • A 28-year-old man has been jailed for 210 days after pleading guilty to keeping five dogs for animal fighting, to causing unnecessary suffering to two dogs by failing to provide veterinary treatment and to breaching the conditions of his firearms licence by having unsecured firearms and ammunition in his home. The court heard that the Scottish SPCA was contacted by an employee at a photo print company over “serious concerns” about the welfare of several injured dogs pictured in images ordered by the man. When SPCA inspectors and police officers went to his home in Brechin, Angus, they recovered 29 rounds of ammunition and found a Benelli shotgun propped against a wall near the front door, a Tikka .243 rifle on a sofa and a CZ rifle in the hall cupboard next to an open gun cabinet. Eleven dogs were taken into care and inspectors found equipment on the property linked to illegal animal fighting.
  • A 66-year-old man has been fined £270 and ordered to pay costs for not complying with a condition of his firearm certificate, namely failing to ensure that no unauthorised person could gain access to ammunition held at an address in Cleator, Cumbria.
  • An armed police officer shot a man after responding to reports of a person with a firearm in Greenwich, South East London. The suspect was treated in hospital and is expected to recover. The incident is being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

We are aware of at least seven reports in August 2022 involving the use of police Tasers, including:

  • Sussex police have referred an incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct after allegations that two of their officers used excessive force when they restrained a 93-year-old man living in a care home in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex. Following a report that the man had threatened staff with a knife, one of the officers used an incapacitant spray and a baton on him, while the other Tasered him. The elderly man, who had one leg and suffered from dementia, was then handcuffed and taken to hospital, where he died a few weeks later. Investigators attended the post-mortem examination and are awaiting the results. The two constables involved have been served with misconduct notices and letters advising them they are under criminal investigation for manslaughter.
  • Following reports that a man was damaging property and attacking members of the public in South Ockendon, Essex, police officers Tasered and detained him. The man later became unwell and was treated in hospital. The incident has been referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct.

Animal Death and Injury

We are aware of at least nine reports in August 2022 of animal cruelty and/or death involving a gun, including:

  • A swan is being treated at a wildlife hospital in Yorkshire for injuries caused by an air rifle.
  • A cat has had an eye removed after being shot with an air rifle in Basingstoke, Hampshire. An RSPCA spokesperson said of the attack: “It is really upsetting to hear about this poor cat… Every year the RSPCA receives almost 1,000 calls to investigate cases and help hundreds of animals that are defenceless victims of air gun attacks. It is very distressing to think that people take pleasure in causing such horrific injuries to defenceless animals. These are deliberate and brutal acts of cruelty. We are calling for tighter controls on air weapons. This, along with better education and explanation of the law when buying an air gun, and requirements that everyone must receive basic safety training before being allowed to walk out of the shop could help relieve the problem.”
  • Cats have been shot and injured in a number of other incidents in Cheshire, Fife, and in Hampshire, where a cat had a leg amputated after being shot with an air rifle and X-rays revealed that pellets had hit two legs, shattering the ankle of one. Other cats have also been injured in Leicestershire, Staffordshire and in West Yorkshire, where a single pellet penetrated a cat’s intestine in seven places and lodged in her stomach.

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 after 300,000+ members of the public petitioned in favour of airgun licensing.

The recently published Government Response to a further Consultation, sent predominantly to shooting organisations but not to women’s organisations or those supporting victims of domestic violence, has concluded not to license airguns in England and Wales.

Border Force and National Crime Agency

We are aware of one report in August 2022 relating to the above:

  • A 41-year-old man has been ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to bringing a realistic firearm into the country and exposing a child to unnecessary suffering or injury to health. After the man bought an imitation gun online from Italy, Border Force officers intercepted the weapon. Police officers subsequently searched his flat in Edinburgh, Scotland and found deactivated weapons, including two handguns and two rifles, as well as several replica firearms, a crossbow, bolts and knives. A child had been left unsupervised at the property where the weapons had been left “on open display”.

Sentences and Convictions 

We are aware of at least 38 reports in August 2022 of sentences and convictions for gun crime, including:

  • A man has been handed a suspended eighteen-month prison term, with a two-year mental health treatment requirement and up to 20 probation sessions, after pleading guilty to possession of a prohibited firearm and ammunition. Police officers were called to his grandmother’s home in Oxford, Oxfordshire in August 2020 after he made “bizarre comments”, including a claim that he could escape through a painting if he were to stab his grandmother’s partner. The officers found the man sitting on a sofa with sixteen knives arranged in a line next to him. A viable antique pistol and six compatible .22 bullets were found on his bed. He was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and has since undergone psychiatric treatment. The court heard that he obtained the gun with the intention of taking his own life.
  • A 41-year-old man and a 61-year-old man have been jailed for 30 years and 20 years, respectively, for their involvement in a nationwide criminal operation that stored and transported cash, guns and drugs to organised crime gangs. After the criminal phone network, Encrochat, was decrypted, police officers discovered messages between the men arranging deliveries of drugs and weapons to gangs, including one referring to the transportation of a Glock firearm. The men were arrested in December 2020, after which firearms and ammunition were recovered from hidden compartments behind fake walls at a property linked to them in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. The court heard that in 2020 alone, the offenders’ criminal enterprise transported cocaine with an estimated value of between £29.5million and £44million to gangs. Both men pleaded guilty to drug offences, conspiracy to transfer criminal property and conspiracy to transfer prohibited weapons, while the older man further admitted possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of a firearm without a certificate.
  • Following an incident in Ventnor, Isle of Wight, a 66-year-old man has been jailed for seventeen weeks, having pleaded guilty to possession of an imitation firearm in a public place (namely, an air pistol) and possession of a knife blade/sharp pointed article in a public place.
  • A 56-year-old man has been jailed for ten years and eight months after admitting two counts of possessing an offensive weapon, making a threat to kill, possessing a firearm to cause a fear of violence, possessing a firearm without a licence and possession of ammunition without authority. After he threatened to shoot his ex-partner in March this year, police officers visited the man at his caravan in Leeds, West Yorkshire. The man refused to come out and told the officers that he would detonate explosives if they tried to come in. Seeing he was holding a rifle, the officers called in armed support and a negotiator. The man surrendered after a 24-hour stand-off. Two rifles, ammunition, hunting knives and a meat cleaver were recovered at the scene. The court heard that the man suffered longstanding mental health issues, including complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • A 43-year-old man has been jailed for five years after pleading guilty to possessing a prohibited firearm. In June this year, police officers found a revolver and sixteen rounds of .22 ammunition in a bathroom cupboard at the man’s home in Gloucester, Gloucestershire. He told police that he had bought the weapon for £70 at a car boot sale and that it was a cap gun. He claimed to have bought it to scare people off because he lived in a dangerous area and was concerned for his own safety. On sentencing, the judge said: “I'm not convinced in your explanation of how you came into the possession of the firearm and the associated ammunition. Firearms are dangerous and are used to commit crime and in unskilled hands, which yours are, would have posed a danger to others and that is why I have to impose the minimum term.”
  • A 44-year-old man has been jailed for five years after being found guilty of possessing a disguised firearm, possessing Class B drugs and carrying out a racially-aggravated public order offence. The man was arrested in April 2019 after he was overheard threatening two men at a railway station in Wolverhampton, West Midlands. British Transport Police officers searched him and found cannabis and a Taser disguised as a torch in his pocket.
  • A 43-year-old man from Edinburgh, Scotland, has been jailed for four years and four months after admitting committing an offence under the Firearms Act by conspiring with others to purchase a prohibited weapon. In October last year, after he indicated that he wanted to obtain a gun in an online chatroom, someone contacted him by phone and the pair discussed the price of a Glock G19 and ammunition. Police received intelligence about the attempted purchase and an undercover officer contacted the man to offer him “metal”. He agreed to buy a Baikal pistol and silencer from the officer but did not attend the meeting to collect the weapon as arranged, having been warned by a friend that the deal was “dodgy”. When the man was arrested the following day, evidence of the first negotiation was found on his phone.
  • A 25-year-old man has been jailed for five-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to three counts of possession of a firearm, possession with intent to supply a Class A drug, possession with intent to supply cannabis and possession of a Class A drug. When his car was stopped by police in Southampton, Hampshire in July last year, the man grabbed a bag from the vehicle and ran off. He was detained nearby and the bag was found to contain a pistol with a silencer, a box of 50 9mm bullets and a quantity of cocaine worth around £24,000.
  • A man has been jailed for fourteen months after admitting possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and threatening a person with an offensive weapon in a public place. Following a disagreement with staff at a pizza takeaway in Southampton, Hampshire, the man banged on the window of the shop with metal poles and brandished an airgun. Police officers arrested him at the scene shortly afterwards and recovered the firearm.
  • A 23-year-old man and a 25-year-old man have each been jailed for eight years after being found guilty of conspiracy to transfer a firearm, conspiracy to possess a prohibited firearm and conspiracy to possess ammunition. In August last year, police officers saw the younger man with a holdall on Mitcham Common, London. When he was stopped later, he was no longer carrying the bag. A police sniffer dog found the holdall, which contained an assault rifle, magazine and ammunition. Subsequent enquiries revealed that older man had previously been in contact with the other man to find out how much he could sell the firearm for.
  • Three men have been jailed for a total of seventy years for their involvement in a shooting in August last year. The three armed themselves with a shotgun and other weapons before driving to a caravan park in Tingley, West Yorkshire to carry out a revenge attack on two men with whom they had a history of previous violent confrontation. Their two victims suffered serious injuries in the attack, with one having three fingers partially amputated. Following the attack, the offenders hid the shotgun among hay bales at their farm but police discovered the weapon four days later.
  • A 31-year-old man has been jailed for twelve years after being convicted of attempted murder, assault, damaging property and threatening behaviour. In November 2020, the man fired a shotgun at two men in Glenboig, North Lanarkshire. Around a year earlier he threatened a man at a property in Dunfermline and accompanied others who brandished a shotgun and damaged windows at a flat in Stirling. On sentencing, the judge said: “The course of criminal conduct involved crimes of varying degrees of seriousness. They culminated in the attempted murders by discharging a shotgun at two individuals in the afternoon on a public street. There may have been little or no injury, but it is no more than good fortune that neither man was killed.”
  • Two teenage boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have been jailed for seven years and eight-and-a-half years, respectively, after being found guilty of robbery and possessing a firearm with intent to cause violence. Over the summer period last year, the pair stole valuables from men walking alone in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, threatening some of their victims with a handgun.

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: August 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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