December 2022 Review
by Gun Control Network on 09-01-2023
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 December 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 December 2022.
Figure 1: December 2022 incident reports by type
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 two reports in December 2022 concerning gun deaths:
- Armed police officers fatally shot a man after responding to reports that a male in possession of a knife was threatening people at a home in Carlisle, Cumbria. The shooting has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
- A woman died and four men were injured after they were shot outside a pub in Wallasey, Merseyside. The woman was shot in the head and died in hospital shortly afterwards. One of the injured men is believed to be in a critical condition. A man has since been arrested on suspicion of murder, while another man and a woman have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.
We are aware of one report in December 2022 concerning the verdict of an inquest into a gun death:
- The coroner at the inquest into the death of a man in Newport, Isle of Wight in March this year has concluded that he took his own life, cause of death being a single gunshot wound to the chest. The man, who had been suffering ill health, was found in the garden of his home. He had left a letter for the coroner. N.B. The Coroner failed to report whether or not the victim was a licensed gun owner.
Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator
We are aware of three reports in December 2022 that we believe to relate to the above, including:
- A man has been jailed for eleven years and one month after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent, possession of a firearm with intent to cause violence, possession of ammunition without a certificate and two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon. In December last year, the man shot a former friend in the leg with a handgun after quarrelling with him about a drug debt. The bullet passed through the victim’s thigh and was recovered later. Police subsequently discovered baseball bats in the suspect’s car and pepper spray, a machete and a Taser at his home in Stockton, Co. Durham.
- A 51-year-old man has been jailed for 34 weeks after admitting having a replica pistol and assault by beating. In July this year, he banged and kicked at the front door of his “on-off” partner’s home in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk in the early hours of the morning. When the woman let him in, he kicked her, pushed a replica gun into her face and shot her in the side. Police responded and the victim was taken to hospital, having suffered a minor pellet injury. Her attacker was arrested two days later.
- After a man reported that he had been shot in the leg with a suspected shotgun in Brandon, Suffolk, police officers recovered firearms and ammunition, and arrested a male suspect. The victim, who police believe was known to his attacker, suffered minor injuries.
Licensed/Former Licensed Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition, and Stolen Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least six reports in December 2022 that we believe to relate to the above:
- See Gun Deaths above — A man has been shot dead by armed police officers responding to reports of threats being made by a man with a knife in Cumbria.
- A licensed gun owner has been jailed for five years and ten months after pleading guilty to possessing a prohibited firearm, possessing a firearm without a certificate and possessing ammunition without a certificate. Alerted by his wife, police raided the man’s home in Dover, Kent in July this year and discovered a sawn-off shotgun behind the fridge, as well as a hoard of knives, bow and arrows, thousands of bullets and seventeen legally-held guns in a secret room. A Confederate flag and rugs covered the windows and tins of food were found under the floorboards. Suspecting the gun owner had reconfigured his home in preparation for a gun fight with police, officers spent two days searching the house for booby traps. The judge, however, disagreed with the police’s theory, describing the man as “something of a Prepper”, that is a member of a fringe community preparing for social disorder or natural disaster. He said that the gun owner did not pose a public risk but had collected the weapons to trap and hunt game. However, he dismissed the man’s claim that he had planned to dispose of the sawn-off shotgun for a friend.
- In August this year, police officers calling at the home of a licensed gun owner in Edenhall, Cumbria discovered he had a rifle standing next to his bed. The man also had three rifles and a shotgun in a secure safe. When questioned, the 52-year-old man said he had been out hunting rabbits the night before and had left the gun out to avoid disturbing his family. He pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the conditions of his firearms licence and was fined £300, with a £120 surcharge and costs of £85.
- Three gang members have been jailed for a total of almost 24 years for their involvement in targeted burglaries at homes where firearms were kept. The three men carried out dozens of break-ins, stealing high value items and firearms, including a shotgun from a house in Chorley, Lancashire and a safe containing shotguns from a home in Nateby. The court heard that two of the men were “undoubtedly in control of the entire operation” and that they hoped to sell the guns on to the criminal underworld. After they admitted conspiracy to commit burglary and three counts of possession of a shotgun without a certificate, the men were jailed for a total of twenty-four years and three months.
- Four men have been jailed for their involvement in the theft of firearms and ammunition from a gun shop in Sheffield, South Yorkshire in April 2020. The gang were caught out by phone evidence after one of them ordered a meal while inside the shop with another man. CCTV footage revealed a vehicle rented by a third man being driven to and from the scene, with the fourth man as a passenger. Almost half of the firearms stolen have since been recovered. The four were jailed for a total of thirty-one years and ten months for burglary, firearms and drugs offences.
- Police appealed for information after an air rifle was stolen during a burglary at a property in Hodthorpe, Derbyshire.
We are aware of at least three reports in December 2022 involving the use of police Tasers, including:
- It has emerged that a man suffered a broken jaw and two broken teeth after being Tasered by a police officer in Broadgate, North London in August 2020. Following a complaint about the officer’s use of force, the incident was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. The officer concerned has since been charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm.
- A 45-year-old man has been fined £162 and ordered to pay £200 costs and a £34 victim surcharge after admitting possession of an air weapon in a public place. In March this year, police officers Tasered and arrested the man following a report that he had been seen carrying a weapon in the communal area of a block of flats in Worcester, Worcestershire. He claimed he had been taking the unloaded firearm from his car to his flat and had not done anything to cause other residents to “fear for their safety”.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least four reports in December 2022 of animal cruelty and/or death involving a gun, including:
- After a member of the public reported finding three foxes dumped in Basildon, Essex, it was discovered they had been shot multiple times in the head with an air weapon. Two female foxes were dead, while a “barely alive” male was put to sleep after it was discovered he had suffered spinal damage. A spokesperson from the veterinary charity that treated the male fox said, “Our issue is with the fox that was still alive and left to suffer. We know people cull foxes and there’s not much we can do to stop them, but there are restrictions to doing that. The right calibre rifle and suitable ammunition must be used to kill and not just maim. The wildlife crimes officer from Essex Police and the RSPCA have since confirmed that it is an offence to cause a fox unnecessary suffering by leaving it injured.
- A cat is recovering after being shot in the chest and abdomen with an air gun in Porth, Rhondda.
- A cat was put to sleep after being shot near her spine with a BB gun in Southampton, Hampshire. Her owners said they had heard a report that another cat was shot in the area on the same night. The incident has been reported to the police.
- A cat was put to sleep after being shot four times with an air rifle in Chelmsford, Essex. RSPCA inspectors believe that the shots, to her abdomen, a leg and an eye, were all fired at close range.
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 three reports in December 2022 relating to the above:
- National Crime Agency (NCA) officers discovered blank firearms, a converted gun, live rounds of ammunition, ammunition casings and a stolen car at a workshop in Smethwick, West Midlands. It is believed that the blank firearms were intended to be converted into “viable lethal weapons”. One man has since been charged with firearms offences and theft of a motor vehicle. An NCA spokesperson said, “We believe this operation has significantly disrupted a network involved in firearms supply and protected the public of the West Midlands.”
- Five members of a gang have been jailed for a total of thirty-two years and six months after being found with “an array of weaponry” in Birmingham, West Midlands. In May 2021, following a police operation led by the National Crime Agency, armed officers stopped the men’s car and recovered knives, a sledgehammer, a loaded handgun and ammunition. All five men pleaded guilty to possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of prohibited ammunition, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, while one was also charged with possession of an offensive weapon/bladed article.
- A 20-year-old man and a 24-year-old man have been jailed for seven years and six years, three months, respectively, after admitting possession of a revolver, possession of ammunition and drug offences. Acting on intelligence, National Crime Agency (NCA) officers raided the older man’s home in Birmingham, West Midlands in December last year and recovered a revolver loaded with three 0.32 calibre bullets from the loft, as well as £3,800 in cash, 100g of cannabis and a 9mm blank ammunition casing. A bullet was subsequently found at the younger man’s home. DNA from both men was retrieved from the firearm. Following sentencing, an NCA spokesperson said, “Guns and drugs go hand-in-hand with offenders using firearms or the threat of them to assert their dominance over other criminals, often with a destructive impact on communities.”
Sentences and Convictions
We are aware of at least 45 reports in December 2022 of sentences and convictions for gun crime, including:
- A 22-year-old man has been jailed for 28 years and ten months after being found guilty of attempted murder and possession of a machete. in September last year, he shot a man twice in the face at point-blank range in a drive-by attack in Luton, Bedfordshire. The victim suffered life-threatening injuries. The man, who had used a stolen car to carry out the attack, was captured on CCTV dumping the vehicle shortly afterwards. A machete was subsequently recovered from the car. The court heard that the shooting came as “the culmination of a feud between two criminal gangs” and that he had shot the man as punishment for a road rage incident in which neither of them had been involved.
- A 38-year-old man from Salford, Greater Manchester, has been jailed for eighteen-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, money laundering, conspiracy to sell or transfer firearms and conspiracy to sell or transfer ammunition. After the criminal messaging network, EncroChat, was decrypted in 2020, detectives discovered messages in which the man discussed the sale of guns. He was also exposed as an international drug dealer who laundered at least £1.6 million in illicit money. Following sentencing, a police spokesperson said the man “…was an integral player in the organised crime landscape… and he was responsible for the supply of potentially lethal weapons, copious amounts of ruinous Class A drugs and the movement of dirty money…”
- A man has been jailed for twelve years and nine months after admitting being involved in the supply of firearms and ammunition, conspiring to sell or transfer firearms and drug offences. The man was a “key facilitator'” in an organised crime group based in Manchester that trafficked firearms and “wholesale amounts'” of heroin and cocaine. The court heard that he supplied ten firearms in total, six of which were delivered to Luton, along with 180 rounds of ammunition, in March 2020. The gang’s activities were exposed when their criminal messaging network, Encrochat, was decrypted in 2020 and other members are awaiting sentencing.
- Four gang members who were involved in an altercation in Hackney, East London in November 2020, during which an innocent bystander was shot through the neck, have been jailed for a total of nine years. All four admitted violent disorder on the basis that they provoked a rival gang by filming “a drill video in enemy territory”. The victim, who had been standing outside a pub when she was shot, suffered a severed artery and catastrophic spinal injuries that left her unable to walk or use her hands.
- A 22-year-old man has been jailed for 42 months after pleading guilty to robbery, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of an imitation firearm. In April last year, the man pointed a replica gun at a care worker at a care home in Kent. A year later, he threatened a man with a knife in Northampton before stealing his jacket. In a victim statement, the care worker said that she frequently suffers panic attacks and sleepless nights.
- A 35-year-old man has been jailed for thirteen years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and intentionally encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offence, namely, to transfer a firearm. Based in Salford, Greater Manchester, he linked with Merseyside organised crime groups in an attempt to set up his own street dealing ring. After the criminal messaging network, EncroChat, was decrypted in 2020, detectives found messages he had sent to criminals about supplying heroin, firearms and ammunition. The court heard a number of these messages, in which he acted as a broker attempting to find a buyer for guns advertised by another EncroChat user.
- A 28-year-old man has been jailed for eleven years after being convicted of possessing a firearm with intent to commit robbery. In October last year, the man and five others attempted to steal 167 cannabis plants from a property in Birmingham, West Midlands. As they broke through an iron gate and forced open a fortified door to gain entry, another group of men arrived to protect their “crop”. The man shot one of the rival group with a shotgun before fleeing. As he made his getaway, he accidentally shot himself in the leg and had to be taken to hospital.
- A 52-year-old man has been jailed for five years after pleading guilty to two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of ammunition without a certificate. In February this year, the man brandished what looked like a handgun at two bailiffs who called to his home in Brockley, South London to execute a property repossession warrant. He went on to point the gun at responding firearms officers before being “talked down” and surrendering. 25 bulleted cartridges, 24 shotgun shells and a bulletproof vest were subsequently recovered from the property. The gun was found to be a revolver-style air pistol that had been converted to a viable lethal firearm and loaded with six rounds.
- A 28-year-old man has been ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work and 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days after pleading guilty to firing an air weapon beyond premises and four counts of assault by beating. In July this year, the man was seen shooting an Airsoft gun from the window of a property in Frampton, Dorset. When people at a neighbouring property commented on his activities, he aimed towards them, leaving four individuals with minor grazing and superficial injuries. He was instructed to pay £50 to each of his victims.
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: December 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 air gun 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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