June 2022 Review

by Gun Control Network on 12-07-2022

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 June 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 June 2022.

                                           Figure 1: June 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 one report in June 2022 concerning two gun deaths:   

  • Police have discovered the bodies of a man and a woman in the grounds of their home in Goring Heath, Oxfordshire. A post-mortem examination confirmed they had both died of “a shotgun wound to the chest”. Bailiffs, attending the property to carry out an eviction order, found a note pinned to the door describing the couple’s whereabouts and asking for the police to be notified.

Inquests

We are aware of one report in June 2022 concerning a gun death inquest: 

  • The coroner at the inquest into the death of a man in Sydenham, South East London in September 2019 has recorded a conclusion of accidental death from  gunshot wounds to the chest. A police investigation revealed that the deceased had been planning to use a sawn-off shotgun to shoot another man; however, he shot himself instead after setting off the weapon by swinging it against a car in frustration. The coroner explained that both barrels of the shotgun discharged without the trigger being pulled due to the huge use of force exerted. 

Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator

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

  • A woman suffered chest injuries when an air gun discharged as her friend was moving it off a table at his home in Bedlington, Northumberland. The male owner did not realise the woman had been shot until she told him and he saw blood running down her front. The incident was reported and armed police officers and paramedics responded. A police spokesperson later said, “An investigation was carried out into the incident, but officers are satisfied it was an accident between two parties who are known to each other, and that no criminal offences were committed.” The victim, who was not seriously hurt, is recovering at home after being treated in hospital.
  • A 30-year-old man has been jailed for thirteen years after admitting offences including possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and four counts of possessing an explosive substance with intent. In December last year, the man threatened to kill his partner with a fully-loaded sawn-off shotgun at their home in Foxhole, Cornwall. After the woman managed to escape, the man fled the scene. He was found in a garage nearby with weapons including three viable fragmentation improvised explosive devices, packed with ball bearings, shrapnel and metal fragments, as well as more firearms and a “vast quantity of ammo”. On sentencing the judge said: “The explosive devices were all fully operational. To construct a bomb is almost unbelievable, to construct multiple bombs defies belief. The one purpose of devices constructed in this way is to kill and maim as many people as possible and they were loaded for that purpose.”
  • A 20-year-old man has been handed a suspended sixteen-month term in a young offenders’ institution and ordered to complete a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement after admitting two offences of assault causing actual bodily harm and damaging a window. In July last year, following a dispute over money, the man fired an automatic BB gun at a man and a woman standing on a balcony at their home in Colchester, Essex. A pellet hit the woman on her cheek, while the man was hit on his chin. The Judge ordered the perpetrator to abide by a six-month night-time curfew and pay £600 costs, and banned him from contacting the victims or from going near their home for two years. In impact statements, the victims described suffering nightmares after the incident and said they feel worried when they go out.

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

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

  • After responding to reports of a concern for safety in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, a police officer shot and injured one man. The victim is said to be in a stable condition. Two police officers were also injured during the incident. The Independent Office for Police Conduct has since opened an investigation.
  • See Animal Death and Injury below — A man has been sentenced for failing to comply with the conditions of a shotgun or firearm certificate and being in possession of a number of dead birds in Wiltshire.

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

  • After being Tasered three times by police officers, a man jumped off a bridge into the River Thames in Chelsea, West London. Rushed to hospital in a critical condition, the man died two days later. The officers had been deployed in response to reports of a man, allegedly armed with a screwdriver, shouting on the bridge. The incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
  • A group of men has filed a complaint with Humberside Police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct after a police officer targeted one of them with a Taser in Beverley, East Yorkshire. The man was stopped last month after one of his friends was arrested for drunk and disorderly behaviour. As the man ran away, reportedly in panic, a police officer chased him before deploying a Taser towards him. The Taser missed its target but the man reported feeling something brush past his right arm. The incident was filmed by one of the group. Police officers are only allowed to use Tasers when faced with a serious threat or violence. The weapons can cause heart attacks, breathing problems, trauma and in some cases death.  

Animal Death and Injury

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

  • A 21-year-old man has been handed a twelve-month community order and ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £393 in costs after being charged with three counts of failing to comply with the conditions of a shotgun or firearm certificate and pleading guilty to possession of five dead buzzards, three red kites and a herring gull. In August 2020, a covert CCTV camera, installed by the RSPB following a tip-off, recorded three gunshots before the man was seen throwing a dead buzzard down a well. The remains of several other birds were found down the well. Subsequently, a loaded shotgun was found on the back seat of his vehicle and firearms and ammunition were discovered left lying around his house near Pewsey, Wiltshire. 
  • Five cats have been shot and injured as a result of airgun attacks in Derbyshire, Pembrokeshire, Powys, Staffordshire and Tyne and Wear, one having had to have an eye removed.
  • Two herring gulls have died and another two have had to be put to sleep after being shot in separate incidents in Somerset and South Wales.
  • A goshawk has been found shot dead in Gloucestershire and a Kite has been found dead, having been shot, in Wiltshire.

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 not aware of any reports in June 2022 relating to the above.

Sentences and Convictions

 We are aware of at least 44 reports in June 2022 of sentences and convictions for gun crime, including:

  • After he waved a BB gun at a café in Rhyl, Denbighshire in August last year, a 60-year-old man pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause three people to believe that unlawful violence would be used. He has now been handed a suspended 30-week jail sentence and ordered to complete 25 sessions of rehabilitation activity and pay a £156 victim surcharge.
  • A 29-year-old man has been jailed for one year for possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. Following a near collision on the M40 in July 2020, the man pulled up alongside the other car involved and pointed what looked like a revolver at its rear wheel. The driver alerted police and armed police officers arrested the man at his home in Reading, Berkshire, where they recovered a BB gun. In court, the Judge described the gun, legally classed as a firearm, as “fearsome”.
  • Four men have been jailed for a total of thirty-two-and-a-half years for their involvement in a shooting in November 2020. A man and a woman were injured when one of five men fired three shots towards a group of people at a recording studio in Woolwich, South East London before fleeing in a stolen car. As police chased the offenders, one of the men turned and pointed a handgun at an officer. Armed officers arrested him nearby, along with three others. The fifth man has not yet been apprehended. The court heard that the victims are both “still suffering the long-term health implications caused by their injuries”.
  • A 42-year-old man has been handed an eight-and-a-half-year prison term after being convicted of possession of a prohibited firearm and possession of ammunition, and admitting transferring criminal property. In February last year, police officers recovered a semi-automatic pistol and five rounds of live ammunition from a storage container in Miles Platting, Manchester. They subsequently saw the man pass a bag that contained £135,000 cash to another man in a van, while a further £29,000 cash and numerous designer items were recovered from the flat the 42-year-old shared with his girlfriend.
  • Two men involved in shootings in London have been sentenced: A 26-year-old has been jailed for 35 years having been found guilty of murder and attempted murder and a 21-year-old has been handed a seven-year-prison term for assisting an offender. In November 2020, a car knocked a man off his bike in Ilford, East London, before two men got out of the vehicle and shot him in the head. The man died at the scene. Shortly afterwards, two men got out of a car and shot a man in the shoulder outside a shop around five miles away. Later the same evening, a car was found burnt out nearby and CCTV footage linked it to both shootings, while clothing retrieved from the vehicle revealed the 26-year-old’s DNA. The 21-year-old booked a taxi to bring his accomplice and two other men (still at large) to his house after the car was torched so they could change their clothes. A police spokesperson said that they have been unable to establish any motive for the shootings and that the victims had been “selected at random in unprovoked and senseless attacks”.
  • Following a shooting and an acid attack, three men have been jailed for a total of over fifty years. Acting on instructions from an unidentified organised crime group boss via the encrypted communications platform, EncroChat, one man threw acid at a man’s face in St. Helens in April 2019, leaving his victim with only partial sight, and went on to plan a second attack. In March 2020, two of the men planned a shooting through the window of a residential property in Warrington, Cheshire, with subsequent forensic examination proving the bullets had come from a handgun one of them had fired towards another man a few months earlier. In April 2020, all three men abandoned plans for a third acid attack after noticing their victim had CCTV at his address; however, it was discovered that a grenade was subsequently planted in the intended victim’s garden. When the men’s stolen vehicle was seized, DNA found on items inside forensically linked two of the men to the planned acid attack.
  • A 32-year-old man has been jailed for seven years after pleading guilty to possession with intent to supply crack cocaine and cannabis, possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition without holding a licence. Police officers knocked at the door of the man’s room at a hotel in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire this year as part of an unrelated investigation. The man told them he had a handgun in the room and officers subsequently recovered a self-loading handgun in two parts from the bed, further parts of the gun from the toilet bowl and six bullets, around £16,500 worth of cocaine and approximately £700 worth of cannabis from around the room. The man was wanted after failing to attend court in September 2021, when he was sentenced in his absence to seven years for drug offences. The latest sentence will be added to the existing one.
  • A 31-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman have been jailed for six years and three years, respectively, after being found guilty of possessing a firearm, while the man was also convicted of manufacturing a firearm. His best friend received a twelve-year sentence for manufacturing a firearm and possession of electronic publications, including terrorist manuals and books providing detailed instructions on killing and the manufacture of improvised explosives and firearms. The court heard that all three were members of an online “extreme fascist cell” and that the two men had made plastic parts for a handgun using a 3D printer. Police officers found the gun parts at the couple’s home in Keighley, West Yorkshire, along with black powder residue that had been used to manufacture explosives. A 29-year-old man, who ran the chat room used by the other defendants, was jailed for ten years for terrorist-related offences.
  • A 22-year-old man has been jailed for five years after police officers found a shotgun and ammunition at his home in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Following a report of concern for his welfare, police officers called to his flat in August 2020. They recovered a loaded, 12-guage, sawn-off shotgun from a laundry basket and three shotgun shells from under a bed. The court heard that the man was a vulnerable person who had been forced to store the weapon for a drug dealer. On sentencing, the judge said: “You were a young man preyed upon by others who exploited you. While I may have sympathy for you, it is clear from the legislation this is a case where the minimum term applies.”
  • After a 35-year-old man scared his neighbours by firing blanks from imitation weapons on the balcony of his apartment in Chatham, Kent in April 2020, police officers recovered 80 shell casings and three imitation firearms including two self-loading pistols and an assault rifle from his home. The man, who said he believed he was a reincarnation of US rapper, Tupac Shakur, during the incident, admitted three offences of possessing firearms with intent to cause fear of violence. A judge has since ordered that he be detained under the Mental Health Act for ongoing treatment.

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: June 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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