June 2023 Review

by Gun Control Network on 30-11--0001

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 2023 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 2023.

                                             Figure 1: June 2023 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 2017/18 to 2022/23 are available at www.gun-control-network.org

We are aware of three reports in June 2023 concerning three gun deaths: 

  • After a man was found dead at a chalet park in Sheppey, Kent, a post mortem confirmed the cause of death as gunshot wounds to the chest. A man has since been charged with murder but the gun used has not been found.
  • Police officers responding to a report of the sudden death of a man in the grounds of his home in Wilton, Wiltshire found he had suffered a gunshot wound to the head. A police spokesman said that the death is not thought to be suspicious. An inquest has been opened.
  • It has emerged that a man died at his home in Guisborough, North Yorkshire in August 2022 after being shot with a homemade slam gun loaded with a shotgun cartridge. A teenage male who, together with the victim sold drugs from the address, has been cleared of both murder and manslaughter. The court heard that youth claimed to have been “messing about” with the weapon when it went off accidentally. He handed himself in two days later after discarding the firearm in a field as he fled the scene. The gun has not been recovered.


We are aware of two reports of inquests in June 2023 relating to four gun deaths:

  • The coroner at the inquest into the deaths of a married couple in June 2021 has concluded that the man unlawfully killed his wife before taking his own life. The couple’s daughter found her parents’ bodies when she called to their home in Southport, Merseyside a few days after their deaths. The inquest found that the man had shot his wife twice in the left arm and chest with his legally-held 12-bore double-barrel shogun before using it to shoot himself. The shotgun was found by his side and forensic investigations matched it to the fatal gunshot wound. The man had recently applied for his firearms licence to be renewed. 
  • The inquest into the death of a married couple in Thornford, Dorset in July 2022 heard that the man fatally shot his wife with his legally-held shotgun while she slept before turning the weapon on himself. The cause of death for each of them was a single gunshot wound to the head. After shooting his wife, the man called the emergency services and the responding paramedic found him dead in the hallway with a double-barrelled shotgun nearby.  His wife’s body was discovered upstairs in her bed. The inquest heard that the woman had suffered a heart attack five days before she was shot and that her husband had been very worried about her health.  After the couple’s family raised the possibility that there had been an unwritten pact between the couple, the coroner concluded that, while the man had taken his own life, it was unclear, on the balance of probabilities, whether the woman had been unlawfully killed. 

Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator

We are aware of seven reports in June 2023 that we believe to relate to the above: 

  • See Gun Deaths above — It has emerged that a man died at his home in North Yorkshire in August 2022 after being shot with a homemade slam gun loaded with a shotgun cartridge. A teenage male who, together with the victim sold drugs from the address, has been cleared of both murder and manslaughter.
  • See Inquests above A man unlawfully killed his wife with his legally-held shotgun before taking his own life with his gun in Merseyside.
  • See Inquests above A man fatally shot his wife with his legally-held shotgun before taking his own life with his gun in Dorset.
  • A 41-year-old man has been handed a two-year suspended sentence, with a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 20 days, after pleading guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. In August 2022, following a family feud, the man went to his partner’s brother’s home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire with what looked like a handgun. Calling him out of the house, he threatened to end the man’s life. The court heard that the victim has been left unable to sleep and suffering from deteriorating mental health issues.
  • A 22-year-old man from Bristol, has been jailed for 38 months after pleading guilty to controlling and coercive behaviour, possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear and false imprisonment. The man subjected his partner to “prolonged abuse”, including punching and kicking her, and biting her face. He also threatened her with a BB gun and slapped her with it, saying he would kill her if she left him. The judge ordered the BB gun to be destroyed and imposed an indefinite restraining order banning the man from all contact with the complainant.
  • A 35-year-old man has been jailed for eighteen months after admitting causing criminal damage, actual bodily harm and non-fatal strangulation. In April this year, the man became “aggressive and abusive” after arriving at his partner’s home in Carlisle, Cumbria in a drunken state. He “trashed” the living room, punched his partner’s head and squeezed her neck, causing her to lose consciousness momentarily. After force feeding her, he then shot her at close range with a BB gun, hitting her face, head and hand. On sentencing, the judge noted the shooting and punching.
  • A 52-year-old man has been handed a community payback order of two years and four months after admitting a breach of the peace and two firearms offences. In 2019, the man was driving near Boreland, Dumfries & Galloway when he spotted a man who owed him some money. After forcing his car to stop, he fired a gun into the air and held the barrel of the weapon to the man’s face. He was arrested a few days later after he fired a gun at his parents’ home. Police also discovered ammunition at his own address. He was jailed for five years following the incident involving his parents but was released in time to face charges for the 2019 offence. The gun used in both incidents was found to be a working British Military 38 revolver dating from 1942.

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

We are aware of at least four reports in June 2023 that we believe to relate to the above: 

  • See Inquests above — A man unlawfully killed his wife with his legally-held shotgun before taking his own life with his gun in Merseyside.
  • See Inquests above A man fatally shot his wife with his legally-held shotgun before taking his own life with his gun in Dorset.
  • A 72-year-old man, a part-time gamekeeper, has been handed a twelve-week suspended prison sentence and had his firearm and shotgun certificates revoked after admitting nineteen charges, including possession of a dead schedule one wild bird. The man claimed he took the bodies of five goshawks home after finding them in King’s Forest, Suffolk in January this year, but later panicked and dumped them in a car park. His DNA was found on one of the birds, all shot dead. When police officers went to his home to question him, they found his gun cabinet unlocked, giving access to a rifle and four shotguns. Ammunition was discovered stored in cupboards and his car. The other charges included: killing a non-schedule one wild bird and use of an animal trap in a circumstance for which it is not approved, two counts of possession of an article capable of being used to commit a summary offence — namely two air rifles and six animal traps, six counts of failing to comply with the conditions of a firearm certificate and four counts of failing to comply with the condition of a shotgun certificate.
  • A large number of items, including an Airsoft gun, have reportedly been stolen from garages in Newhaven, East Sussex. 

We are aware of at least six reports in June 2023 involving the use of police Tasers, including: 

  • It has emerged that a police officer Tasered a man after stopping his car in East London in April 2018. Body-worn footage shows that the man had his arms folded and was standing at a distance from officers when he was Tasered, afterwards falling backwards and hitting his head on a stone window ledge. Officers at the scene claimed in written statements that the man had adopted a “fighting stance” before being Tasered but, in case for damages against police, a high court judge found that he had done “no such thing at any point in the incident” and that the officers deliberately colluded to exaggerate his aggression. Despite this, the judge concluded that the officer who Tasered the complainant was justified in believing he needed to do so because he “honestly believed” the man would aggressively resist arrest.
  • Police officers Tasered and arrested a man who allegedly fatally stabbed three people in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire. The man also reportedly stole a van and drove it at three pedestrians, one of whom was seriously injured.

Animal Death and Injury

We are aware of at least seven reports in June 2023 of animal cruelty and/or death involving a gun:

  • It has emerged that a witness observed a man shooting a short-eared owl on Broomhead Moor, South Yorkshire in the summer of 2022. Police recovered the owl’s body but were unable to bring a successful prosecution.
  • A red kite has been put to sleep after being found with gunshot wounds near Westerdale, North Yorkshire. Police have appealed for information, particularly from anyone who witnessed shooting in the area. It is against the law to intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds.
  • After a homeless blind cat was rescued by volunteers in Accrington, Lancashire, X-rays revealed he had been shot in the shoulder with an air weapon.
  • An osprey was put to sleep after it was found with shotgun injuries, including a ruptured eye, in Washington, Tyne & Wear.
  • Police appealed for information after a horse was reportedly shot at with a suspected air rifle in Newport, Wales. 
  • One of a group of teenage boys allegedly shot a dog in the face with an air rifle in Sevenoaks, Kent. The pellet shattered inside his skull, leaving fragments lodged in his head. It is illegal for airguns to be carried in a public place or for children to own them. It is also a criminal offence for an airgun owner to fail to take “reasonable precautions” to prevent someone under the age of 18 gaining access to such a weapon.
  • A 37-year-old man has been fined £840, put under supervision for three years and ordered to do 270 hours of unpaid community work after admitting causing a dog unnecessary suffering, assaulting two police officers and culpably and recklessly discharging a paintball gun. In October 2020, the man kicked a neighbour’s dog as she and four children walked past his house in Dolphinton, Lanarkshire. As the group took the dog away, the man fired a paintball gun towards them. The dog had to be out down after the attack, while the woman reported feeling terrified that the children were going to be killed. She has since moved away from the area. The man also assaulted his arresting officers.

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 government launched a ‘consultation followed by a further consultation but as a result of responses, the overwhelming majority of which came from members of the shooting community, they concluded not to license airguns in England and Wales.

Border Force and National Crime Agency

We are not aware of any reports in June 2023 relating to the above.

Sentences and Convictions

We are aware of at least 44 reports in June 2023 of sentences and convictions for gun crime, including:

  • A 22-year-old man has been jailed for twelve years and five months after admitting possession of cocaine with intent to supply, possession of a modified pistol with intent to sell it and the sale of it, attempted possession of a modified blank firing pistol and the sale of it, and possession of bullet cartridges without a firearms certificate. In August 2022, after finding the man carrying cocaine, police officers searched his flat in Corby, Northamptonshire and found a workstation operating as a gun production line. The court heard that he had converted six starting pistols, bought online, and altered ammunition. Two guns had been sold, three were found in his home and one has not been traced. His sentence includes an activated suspended sentence he was given in 2021 for firing a starting pistol in a busy pub garden.
  • A 46-year-old man has been jailed for five years and four months after being found guilty of possession of ammunition and conspiracy to transfer a prohibited firearm. In May last year, police officers stopped the man’s car in Bradford, West Yorkshire and recovered a plastic, homemade, 3D-printed FGC9 automatic sub-machine gun and bullets in the rear footwell. The court heard that the gun was destined to be used in organised crime. Two of the man’s co-defendants were sentenced last month for their involvement in manufacturing weapons using a 3D printer.
  • A 35-year-old man and a 34-year-old man have each been jailed for seven-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to murder. The men, both from Paisley, Renfrewshire, used the criminal messaging network, Encrochat, to discuss plans to kill a gang rival and research how to obtain a car, firearms and ammunition. After the network was cracked in 2020, police officers recovered a pistol and a shotgun at a house linked to one of the pair. The gun and bullets were delivered to him by a 56-year-old man who was jailed for five years and three months after admitting involvement in serious organised crime.
  • Three men have been sentenced for a total of 65 years for their involvement in selling and distributing Class A drugs and a gun. In April 2020, specialist organised crime officers became aware that one of the men had travelled to Manchester to buy a handgun. Officers stopped his car on the M1 near Luton, Bedfordshire and recovered a semi-automatic gun, 49 rounds of ammunition and an encrypted phone linked to the criminal messaging network, Encrochat. Analysis of the phone revealed he was acting as courier for two other men who had arranged to sell the weapon. Police officers subsequently discovered packets of cocaine and cannabis at the home of one of the men and messages between the three men exposed their involvement in importing and distributing 990kg of cocaine and 9kg of heroin. All pleaded guilty to drugs and firearms charges.
  • A woman has been made the subject of a Hospital Order under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act to continue treatment for a schizophrenic-type disorder after pleading guilty to possession of an imitation firearm in public. Armed police officers were deployed after the woman was seen brandishing a firearm in Bradford, West Yorkshire in August 2021. When challenged, the woman put down the weapon. The court heard that she had bought the gun while suffering symptoms including delusions of persecution.
  • Six male members of a gang have been sentenced for their involvement in the fatal shooting of a man in Stourbridge, West Midlands in February 2022. A 33-year-old, a 52-year-old and a 42-year-old, have been jailed for 34 years, 22 years and 24 years, respectively, after being convicted of murder, possession of a shotgun, possession of bladed articles and perverting the course of justice, while three teenagers each received custodial sentences of eight-and-a-half years after being convicted of manslaughter, wounding, possession of an imitation firearm and possession of bladed articles. After the gang entered the victim’s home, the 33-year-old shot him with a sawn-off shotgun, while the victim’s brother was stabbed multiple times as he tried to escape. The gang fled in a car that was later found burnt out and a member of the public discovered the weapons used in the attack dumped in a bin the following day. The court heard that the man had been shot over a £175 drug debt.
  • Four men have been jailed for a total of fifteen years for firearms and drug related offences after attacking a man in his own home. In May 2020, one man acted as lookout while the others burst into the man’s house in York, Yorkshire. The victim was punched and hit over the head with a blank-firing gun, the weapon then being fired once towards his head and once towards his groin. The victim suffered a bleed on the brain and other injuries.
  • Five men have been jailed for a minimal total of 134 years after being found guilty of murder and two counts of grievous bodily harm. In September 2021, a man died after being shot on a street in Haringey, North London. He suffered eight gunshot wounds to his chest and arms from up to four bullets. The driver of a passing moped and a pedestrian were also hit by bullets but both survived. The court heard that the man killed was a member of a gang and that he had been intentionally targeted. All five convicted had met in an alleyway to prepare for the attack and CCTV footage captured them embracing in apparent celebration afterwards.
  • A 59-year-old woman from Horwich, Greater Manchester, has been handed a two-year community order with 30 rehabilitation activity days after admitting possession of a prohibited weapon and common assault. In February 2021, after her son was detained by police after a “tiff” with his partner, she called at the woman’s home. When the woman’s sister answered the front door, she demanded to know what had happened and pointed a 50,000-volt electronic stun gun at her. She also shouted, “You are all gonna die — just watch I will get you all killed, I will come back.” The court heard that the woman had been suffering poor mental health at the time of the incident. An order has been made for the stun gun’s destruction.
  • A 41-year-old man has been jailed for a minimum of eight years after pleading guilty to fifteen offences relating to nine armed robberies and attempted armed robberies. Between May and September 2022, the man raided nine betting shops in South East London, beginning in Croydon. He used “a highly-convincing-looking” imitation firearm to threaten staff and stole a total of just over £9,000. The court heard that he usually targeted quiet premises with a lone female member of staff on duty, often at opening or closing time. Some of his victims have suffered serious psychological harm.
  • A 30-year-old man has been jailed for five years after admitting two charges of manufacturing a prohibited firearm. Police officers carried out a routine check at the man’s home in Erdington, West Midlands after he bought a blank firing pistol and 50 cartridges. From a wardrobe, they recovered two illegal firearms that had been manufactured using plastic parts made by a 3D printer: a.22 gun with a shortened barrel and a removable shortened stock capable of firing live ammunition, and a smooth bore gun capable of firing live rounds. Attached to the second weapon were a silencer and a magazine that could hold up to 17 bullets. They also found a rifle under a bed, a box of gun parts and bullets, and a memory card containing documentation relating to the manufacture of firearms, their component parts and ammunition. On sentencing the judge said, “… These firearms were capable of killing and maiming people. If someone had found out what you were doing you would make yourself a target of blackmail from criminal gangs.”
  • A 38-year-old man has been handed a suspended 20-month prison sentence, 150 hours of unpaid work, 20 days of rehabilitation and a two-year ban on using Airsoft guns after admitting assault and causing actual bodily harm. In June last year, the man fired an Airsoft gun at a boy playing in a garden in Gransmoor, East Yorkshire. It has been claimed that the boy might have asked the man to test whether the pellets would hurt him but, after one hit him in the back, he asked the man to stop. The man continued firing, hitting the boy on the side of his head, causing pain and reddening. He then asked the boy not to say anything. On sentencing, the judge said that whether or not the boy asked the man to shoot at him was not the point because he was an adult and the boy was a child.

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 2023 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. See June Inquests above:  Two women both fatally shot by licensed gun-owning husbands. 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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