July 2022 Review

by Gun Control Network on 14-08-2022

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 July 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 July 2022.

                                            Figure 1: July 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 eight reports in July 2022 concerning nine gun deaths:

  • A man died after being shot in the chest in Wood Green, Haringey. Police appealed for information, including from those with dash-cam or mobile phone footage taken in the area. No arrests have yet been reported.
  • Police were called to a home in Bolton, Greater Manchester after a man was found dead due to a firearm discharge. A weapon was recovered from the scene. Police believe there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident.
  • A man was fatally shot at a gathering in Waltham Forest, North London. The man self-presented at a local hospital where he died from his injuries. A second man, who attended hospital with stab injuries, was arrested in connection with the incident.
  • It has emerged that a man died after being shot in the chest in Harlington, West London in October last year. The victim was found by a passing motorist. Two men were subsequently arrested on suspicion of murder.
  • A man died in hospital shortly after self-presenting with a gunshot injury. Police and ambulance staff had earlier responded to reports of a shooting in Queen's Park, North London but failed to find a casualty. Seven men have since been arrested on suspicion of murder.
  • One man died and a second was injured after they were shot while sitting in a car in Birmingham, West Midlands. The men made their own way to hospital, where efforts to save the first man failed. The second man’s injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
  • It has emerged that the bodies of a married couple were found at their home in Thornford, Dorset last month. An inquest has been opened and the initial cause of death for the man and woman has been recorded as gunshot wounds to the head. A police spokesperson said that it is not believed that anyone else was involved in this incident. The inquest will resume at a later date.
  • It has emerged that in April this year the body of a man was found dead in a chair with a gun at his feet at his home in Winterbourne, Berkshire. An inquest has been opened and adjourned. A post-mortem examination concluded that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.

Inquests

We are not aware of any reports in July 2022 concerning the verdicts of gun death inquests.

Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator

We are aware of six reports in July 2022 that we believe to relate to the above: 

  • A 52-year-old man has been jailed for five years and seven months after admitting possessing a shotgun without a firearms certificate and possessing ammunition without a certificate. In September 2019, the man held a shotgun to his ex-partner’s head and threatened to kill her after she climbed over a fence into his garden in Kingswinford, West Midlands. The court heard that he had confiscated her keys, phone and money when their relationship ended. The man subsequently denied having a gun at the property but police officers discovered an unlicensed shotgun and ammunition in the garage. He was convicted of occasioning actual bodily harm and assault by beating last month.
  • A man has been handed a suspended seven-month prison term with twenty rehabilitation activity days after pleading guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and possessing a knife. In June this year, the man pointed an imitation gun at his cousin and at a member of the public who had attempted to intervene in a fight between the two men in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire. The perpetrator fled after a second member of the public tried to take the weapon from him, but returned to look for his cousin, carrying both the firearm and a large knife. He later hid the gun at a café and went out with the knife again.
  • A man was treated in hospital for minor injuries after being shot with an air gun, fired from a car in Porth, Rhondda Cynon Taf. A man, believed to be known to the victim, has since been arrested in connection with the incident.
  • It has emerged that, in September 2020, a man shot a male work colleague in the eye with a BB gun in Killinghall, North Yorkshire. After the two men shot at bottles outside their workplace, one of them pointed the firearm at the other and pretended to shoot him, following him as he tried to get away. The gun discharged when it was being pointed at the victim’s face from a distance of about one metre and he was left with a ball bearing lodged in his eye. The perpetrator was found not guilty of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence but is awaiting sentence for grievous bodily harm.
  • A 33-year-old man has been handed a suspended 21-month prison sentence and ordered to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work, 25 days of rehabilitation activities and six months of mental health treatment after pleading guilty to assault and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. In April this year, following a disagreement over money, the man slapped his partner as she held their three-year-old daughter at their home in Westhoughton, Greater Manchester, threatening to kill them all. Once the child had gone to bed, He held an imitation gun to his partner’s head and made further threats to kill her. The court heard that the victim has been struggling with work and her mental health since the attack.
  • A 27-year-old man has been jailed for 655 days after pleading guilty to assaulting a woman to her injury and driving without a licence or insurance. In June last year, the man shot a woman in the chest with an air rifle as she was standing outside her home in Glasgow, Scotland. The court heard that the man carried out the attack after falling out with the woman’s partner. The victim did not require hospital treatment.

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

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

  • In Chelsea, West London, armed police stopped a car suspected of being linked to a fatal stabbing in Southampton. One officer discharged his firearm during the operation, shooting one of the car’s occupants in the hand. The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating whether the gun went off accidently.
  • West Mercia Police has determined that an officer, who shot a man in the leg in October last year, has no misconduct case to answer. The Independent Office for Police Conduct previously concluded that the Force needed to consider whether the officer’s unintentional discharge of their firearm amounted to such behaviour. The victim was surrounded by armed officers after being spotted with a suspected rifle in a car in Worcester, Worcestershire. After he was shot, his firearm was found to be an imitation submachine gun.
  • An inquiry has found that a man, shot dead by a police marksman in 2015, was lawfully killed. Armed police officers challenged three men in a stolen vehicle in Wood Green, North London, as they waited to break out a violent gang member from a prison van. An officer shot one of the car’s occupants, believing he was reaching for a gun. A replica firearm was subsequently recovered from the back of the vehicle. The inquiry chairman drew attention to a number of failures in the police operation, including contradictory instructions shouted by the armed officers that may have been “misunderstood” by the deceased man. The inquiry also heard that intelligence about the offenders’ inability to obtain a real gun had not been passed onto the firearms officers. The man’s mother said the family could not accept the Inquiry's findings and that her son had been “raising his hands in surrender before he was shot”.
  • After an off-duty police officer spotted a man with a machete in Bloxwich, West Midlands, armed police fired a Taser and a gun before detaining the suspect. A police spokesperson later confirmed that the man had been detained under the Mental Health Act. No one was injured.
  • Two men allegedly threatened a third man with a machete and stole his Magic self-loading 22RF rifle and quad bike while he was out shooting rabbits in Womersley, North Yorkshire.
  • An air rifle was among items stolen during a burglary at a home in Cavendish, Suffolk.

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

  • A man has been charged with arson with intent to endanger life, arson recklessly endangering life, possession of an imitation firearm, possession of a knife and affray after he allegedly threatened to fire a gun during a domestic incident in Archway, North London. The Metropolitan Police has launched an inquiry into how officers handled the incident, during which the suspect was hit by one of their cars and Tasered. He was treated in hospital for minor injuries.
  • Armed police officers were deployed following a report of a domestic disturbance at a property in Islington, London, during which a firearm was discharged and a fire was started. Police officers Tasered a man at the scene and arrested him on suspicion of possessing a firearm, possessing an offensive weapon and arson after he also threatened a member of the public. A suspected firearm was recovered.
  • An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct found that a Metropolitan Police officer used “unnecessary and unreasonable force” during the arrest of a teenage boy in Hackney, North London in September 2020. The officer stood on the boy’s leg, pressed his arm against his neck and used a Taser on him while he was restrained by two other officers. A disciplinary panel has now given the officer a final written warning after finding that his behaviour “could reasonably have been perceived as abusive, oppressive or bullying and that it brought discredit on the police force”.
  • After an off-duty police officer spotted a man with a machete in Bloxwich, West Midlands, armed police fired a Taser and a gun before detaining the suspect. A police spokesperson later confirmed that the man had been detained under the Mental Health Act. No one was injured.

Animal Death and Injury

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

  • Four men have been fined and banned from entering Dorset with an air rifle, slingshot or sighthound dog after pleading guilty to trespassing in pursuit of game. The men were arrested in July last year after being spotted shooting at hares from moving vehicles in Cashmoor, Dorset.
  • A cat is recovering after being restrained and shot in the face three times at close range with an airgun in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
  • Several residents at a public meeting in Poole, Dorset reported seeing incidents of antisocial behaviour, including youths shooting pigeons and seagulls dead with BB guns after attracting them with birdseed.
  • A cat is recovering after being shot in Bristol, the second of the owner’s cats to have been shot. Two cats are recovering after having been shot and injured in Wales and West Midlands. A further cat had to be put to sleep after being shot in West Dunbarton. A sparrowhawk was put to sleep after it was found in April with a gunshot wound on a golf course in Renfrewshire, and police are appealing for information after a number of pigeons were shot in Devon.

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 two reports in July 2022 relating to the above:

  • It has emerged that a man was arrested in April last year after he bought an imitation gun online from Italy. After Border Force officers intercepted the weapon, police searched the man’s home 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”. The man, who has admitted to bringing a realistic imitation firearm into Great Britain and to wilfully exposing a child to unnecessary suffering or injury to health, will be sentenced at a later date.
  • A 66-year-old man was handed a community order after buying a stun gun disguised as a torch online from Amsterdam. After Border Force officials intercepted the parcel containing the weapon, police officers searched the man’s home in Jarrow, South Tyneside and recovered two similar firearms.

Sentences and Convictions 

We are aware of at least 42 reports in July 2022 of sentences and convictions for gun crime, including:

  • It has emerged that three men were jailed in May this year for their involvement in two shootings between rival gang members in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire in August 2018. No injuries resulted from the attacks. In March the following year, police arrested the defendants after learning their gang was planning another attack. Two of the men were jailed for twenty-four years and eighteen years, respectively, for conspiracy to wound with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and three counts of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place, while the third man received eleven years for the first two charges.
  • A 30-year-old man has been jailed for seventeen years after being convicted of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and possessing ammunition with intent to endanger life. In July last year, police officers asked the man to stop after witnessing him take part in a suspected drug deal in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. He ran off a short distance before turning and firing a .22 calibre revolver at a pursuing officer. The bullet missed the officer and the man was arrested at a nearby property shortly afterwards. On sentencing, the judge said that he was satisfied that the man intended to shoot the officer in a bid to prevent being arrested, although he had not intended to kill him.
  • Two men have been jailed for nine years, nine months and fourteen years, respectively, for aggravated burglary and possession of an imitation firearm. The two men entered a couple’s home in Leeds, West Yorkshire, believing it to contain cannabis plants. The man and woman, who were in fact growing tropical plants, were held hostage and threatened with an imitation gun before the intruders realised there were no drugs at the property. The offenders fled after stealing laptops and mobile phones; however, as one of the devices had a “find phone app”, the pair was quickly apprehended. In an impact statement, the female victim said: “They threatened to shoot me if they were not told what they wanted to hear. I felt like a pig waiting to be slaughtered.”
  • A 30-year-old man has been handed a Hospital Order for treatment of autism after police officers recovered “an arsenal” of weapons and ammunition at his home in Matlock, Derbyshire. In January last year, the man behaved aggressively towards a neighbour during an incident involving a Stanley knife. When police arrived at his house, he ran off through the back garden but was detained nearby. He was wearing a stab-proof vest and carrying two guns on his person, as well as a bag that contained cannabis, a knife, a knuckleduster and bullets. He also had a tin that contained altered rounds of blank ammunition and part-rounds of ammunition, indicating that he was making his own bullets. A machete, sword, throwing knives, spent bullets, smoke grenades and a BB gun were subsequently seized from his home. The court heard that the man believed the Government was using coercive behaviour to control people's minds and that he described himself as a “one-man army resistance to the Big Brother surveillance”. A pre-trial report concluded that the man suffers from autism and that his offending had been closely linked to his condition.
  • After admitting using threatening words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress, and possessing an air weapon and ammunition when prohibited, a 37-year-old man was handed a twelve-month mental health treatment programme and fined a total of £500. Following a report that he had displayed worrying behaviour outside a pub, police officers searched his home in Rhyd Ddu, North Wales and recovered an air rifle, two air pistols and ammunition.
  • A 48-year-old man has been jailed for three years after admitting having an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence. In April this year, the man pointed a cardboard imitation gun at a teenage worker at a shop in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire and demanded cash. The staff member, believing the gun to be real, gave him a small amount of money before chasing him and bringing him to the ground. The man managed to get free but was arrested shortly afterwards, still holding the weapon.
  • A 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old man have been jailed for life after being found guilty of murder and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. In July last year, the two offenders conspired to obtain a gun and shoot a man after he intervened in an argument about a drug debt. The younger man took the older man on an e-bike close to a house in Huyton, Merseyside, where he shot the victim twice in the chest with a 9mm self-loading firearm. The victim died in hospital shortly afterwards. CCTV, eyewitness accounts and mobile phone and scientific evidence revealed the pair’s involvement in the shooting. A 21-year-old co-defendant was jailed for two years for possession of ammunition after his DNA was found on a bullet casing recovered at the scene of the shooting.
  • A 45-year-old man has been jailed for three years after being found guilty of making threats to kill, making a threat with an imitation firearm and dangerous driving. In December last year, the man had an “angry exchange” with a taxi driver after his car obstructed the cab on a road in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He then pointed an imitation gun at the taxi driver and threatened to kill him, giving chase as he fled. The taxi driver made “frantic” 999 calls as he sped away, closely followed by the man who “ran red lights, tailgated, swerved into the road and attempted dangerous overtaking manoeuvres” during the pursuit. The court heard that the man suffers from bipolar disorder and alcohol addiction. He was banned from driving for four years.
  • A 46-year-old man has been jailed for fifteen years after being convicted of two counts of rape, possessing an imitation firearm to cause fear of violence and carrying a bladed article. In November last year, he assaulted a sex worker in Folkestone, Kent before raping her twice and threatening her with a firearm. The woman eventually managed to persuade her assailant to leave the property. Arrested shortly afterwards, he was found to have ready-cut strips of duct tape stuck to the inside of his jacket and a pierced condom, while a bayonet was recovered from his car. During a subsequent search at his home, police retrieved weapons including six machetes, fourteen lock-knives, a Samurai sword, eight ball-bearing pistols and air rifles. The man was ordered to serve an extended five years on licence following his release.
  • Two people involved in an attempted burglary in 2020 have been handed prison sentences: the 28-year-old man received nine years and nine months after pleading guilty to attempted aggravated burglary and possession of an imitation firearm, while the 22-year-old woman received eleven years after pleading not guilty to the same offences. After the pair entered the garden of a property they had planned to burgle in Virginia Water, Surrey, the male householder chased the male intruder away. A bag discarded at the scene contained a claw hammer, cable ties and a jerry can of petrol, while two knives, an imitation firearm, handcuffs and a bank card linked to the woman were found in her co-conspirator’s car when it was stopped nearby. A key to the patio door of the targeted property was subsequently found in the woman’s home and her mobile phone revealed searches for information about CCTV cameras in the area. Following sentencing, a police spokesperson said that the pair had planned to carry out a violent burglary and showed frightening disregard for their victims in the process, but thankfully, their plans had been foiled.

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: July 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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