November 2022 Review
by Gun Control Network on 23-12-2022
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 November 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 November 2022.
Figure 1: November 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 one report in November 2022 concerning a gun death:
- A man, found dead and covered in white powder on a street in Wigan, Greater Manchester, is believed to have been shot and attacked with acid. Police have appealed for information, saying they are making murder enquiries.
- See also Police Taser incident below — A man Tasered by police in Essex died at the scene shortly afterwards. Cause of death has not been confirmed.
We are aware of three reports in November 2022 concerning the verdicts of inquests into gun deaths:
- A coroner has sent a Prevention of Future Deaths report to HMRC following the inquest into the death of a man who shot himself with his legally-held shotgun on the day he was due to appear in court on tax fraud charges. The man, who had held a shotgun licence for many years, was found dead in his garden in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire in March this year. He left a note indicating that he was troubled by “declining health” and the charges against him. The inquest heard that, unlike standard police prosecutions, there are no automatic checks of the Police National Computer to check whether someone possesses a firearm when they are prosecuted by other authorities, and that it was “highly likely” that the victim’s firearm would have been confiscated if the police had been aware of the pending court case. HMRC has until January 16 to respond.
- The coroner at the inquest into the death of a police officer in May last year has recorded a verdict of suicide. The man, whose access to weapons had been withdrawn following a drink-driving arrest, shot himself with a police pistol after asking another officer to swipe him into the police armoury at Luton Airport, Bedfordshire, telling her his card hadn’t worked. The inquest heard that the officer had complied with the man’s request because the system was “frequently unreliable”. Before shooting himself in a gym in the airport's police unit, the officer sent a suicide message to a chief inspector, who asked to urgently speak to the operational firearms commander but did not explain why. The coroner described this decision as a “significant error” and also condemned the Force’s failure to tell the victim’s colleagues that his access to weapons had been withdrawn. Describing their approach as “extraordinary”, the coroner said, “'There was a serious failure by senior management to safely manage the armoury.” He went on to explain that he would be “'remitting this to the Independent Office of Police Conduct”, which organization previously concluded officers did nothing wrong.
- The jury at the inquest into the death of a man who was fatally shot by a police officer in January 2017 has concluded that he was lawfully killed. The inquest heard that, after they received a tip-off that the man was a “highly active criminal”, police used four unmarked cars to stop a vehicle in which he was travelling on the M62 near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. A police marksman told the inquest that, fearing for his own life, he had fired at the man through the front windscreen because he believed he had seen him crouching down in the front passenger seat to pick up a gun. The man was hit by two bullets and died from “catastrophic blood loss”. A handgun was subsequently recovered from the footwell of the car. The jury were allowed only to return an open verdict or one of lawful killing as there was not enough evidence to support a conclusion of unlawful killing. Following the verdict, the man’s father said that the six-week inquest had “been like a nightmare” and that he didn’t agree that it was a lawful killing.
Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator
We are aware of three reports in November 2022 that we believe to relate to the above, including:
- A 22-year-old man and a 24-year-old man have been handed suspended sentences of 32 weeks and fourteen weeks, respectively, alongside rehabilitation requirement days, after they shot at several people with a BB gun in Waterlooville, Hampshire in May last year. The older man fired at a former partner, hitting him in the chest, while the other shot one woman on her leg and another on her stomach and arm. At least two others were shot at in several places on the body before police intervened. No one was seriously injured though one victim says she now suffers “panic attacks and nightmares”. The younger man admitted three charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and three counts of assault by beating. The older man pleaded guilty to three charges of assault by beating.
- A 43-year-old man from Leeds, West Yorkshire, has been jailed for two years after admitting a charge of actual bodily harm, theft of a car and possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. When his partner told him she wanted to end their relationship in May this year, he applied pressure to her neck and pinned her to the floor. When the woman reported the incident to police, she told them he had previously threatened her with a gun. Police officers discovered an imitation firearm under some floorboards at the perpetrator’s grandmother’s house.
- A 23-year-old man has been handed a three-year community order and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and up to 40 days of rehabilitation activity after admitting possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and possession of cocaine. In October last year, the man took a replica firearm to a house in Bournemouth, Dorset, the home of a man with whom he’d had an “on-off relationship”. After he banged on the door and let himself in, shouting threats, one of his ex-partner’s friends ran upstairs and threw himself out of a first-floor window in fear. The perpetrator then pointed the weapon at his ex, saying he was going to kill him. After leaving the house suddenly, he was arrested nearby in a “distressed state”. The judge also issued a three-year restraining order.
Licensed/Former Licensed Owners/Dealers/Legal Guns and Ammunition, and Stolen Guns and Ammunition
We are aware of at least seven reports in November 2022 that we believe to relate to the above:
- See Inquests above — A police firearms officer took his own life with a police weapon after a colleague gave him access to the police armoury.
- A coroner has recorded a verdict of ‘Misadventure’ on man shot by police in West Yorkshire in January 2017.
- A coroner has sent a Prevention of Future Deaths report to HMRC following the inquest into the death of a man who shot himself in North Yorkshire with his legally-held shotgun on the day he was due to appear in court on tax fraud charges.
- After police attended a house in Wick St Lawrence, Somerset as part of an investigation into possible firearms offences, two armed police officers opened fire on a man inside the property. The victim suffered serious chest injuries and was rushed to hospital. A non-police issue gun was recovered at the scene. The incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
- Following a disturbance in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, police officers reportedly discharged a firearm and a Taser while detaining a man.
- Armed police officers shot a man after he reportedly brandished a gun inside an off-licence in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. The man was treated in hospital and subsequently arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. The incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
- A 43-year-old firearms licence holder has been jailed for three years and nine months after pleading guilty to six counts of possession of a prohibited weapon, two counts of possessing ammunition without authority and two counts of failure to comply with conditions of a firearms certificate. When police officers searched the man’s home in Doncaster, South Yorkshire in September this year, they recovered five pistols and a rifle that could take self-contained gas cartridges or a conventional bullet. Also found, were four 9mm cartridges and at least three self-contained gas cartridge charging tools, enough to fire a conventional and lethal bullet. The man also had 850 rounds of ammunition, 250 more than his licence allowed.
We are aware of at least six reports in November 2022 involving the use of police Tasers including:
- A man, who was Tasered by police officers following a disturbance in Braintree, Essex, died at the scene shortly afterwards. The incident has been reported to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
- A 45-year-old man has been handed a suspended eighteen-month prison term after pleading guilty to possession of an imitation firearm and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. Following reports that he was seen with a “handgun” in Easington, County Durham, he pointed the weapon at responding police officers. After they Tasered him, the officers recovered two imitation firearms and ammunition from his person. The court heard that the man had been on “very strong amphetamines at the time” and had not intended to frighten anyone.
- Police Tasered a man after he reportedly “smashed up” a property in Birmingham, West Midlands and approached responding officers with a knife.
- Police officers responding to reports of an assault in Lye, West Midlands, Tasered and arrested a man who reportedly threatened them with a piece of wood and punched one of them.
- A 30-year-old man has been jailed for sixteen months after pleading guilty to two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. In March last year, the man pointed an imitation revolver at two police officers who attended his home in Barry, South Wales after he dialled 999 to say he feared he might harm himself. He told the officers it was a real gun, cocked the hammer and told them to get out of his home. Armed police officers subsequently Tasered and detained the man after attempted negotiations failed.
- Following a car chase in Prestwich, Greater Manchester, police officers Tasered and arrested a man after he crashed into a traffic island.
Animal Death and Injury
We are aware of at least six reports in November 2022 of animal cruelty and/or death involving a gun, including:
- It has emerged that an RSPB Scotland blog, published in November last year, highlighted the illegal persecution of birds of prey on Scottish grouse moors in 2021 and detailed the illegal shooting of two ravens on two different grouse moors in the Strathbraan area of Perthshire. One of the ravens appeared to have been repeatedly stamped on after it was shot and injured, while the other was seen “tumbling to the ground after being shot as it mobbed an eagle owl that had been tethered to a post” to lure it in.
- A cat died during surgery after being shot in the eye with an air rifle in Cumbria. A pet owner in Kent has reported that two of her cats have been shot in the last few weeks. The first cat had his eye removed, while the second has been left with breathing difficulties after an air rifle pellet lodged in her nasal cavity. In a separate incident, also in Kent, a cat suffered eye damage after being shot in the neck with an air weapon.
- Police have issued advice to villagers in Winwick and Burtonwood, Lancashire following reports of offenders shooting animals in the area.
- A swan is being treated for serious face and neck injuries after being shot in Walthamstow, East London.
Imitation, Airsoft, airguns and BB guns do not currently require a licence in England or Wales. These guns are responsible for many gun injuries to both humans and animals.
N.B. Since January 2017, airgun owners in Scotland have been required to have a licence, and airgun crime in Scotland has decreased by one third.
Gun Control Network, The RSPCA, Cats Protection, other organisations and individuals are calling for similar legislation in England and Wales after 300,000+ members of the public petitioned in favour of airgun licensing.
The recently published Government Response to a further Consultation, sent predominantly to shooting organisations but not to women’s organisations or those supporting victims of domestic violence, has concluded not to license airguns in England and Wales.
Border Force and National Crime Agency
We are aware of one report in November 2022 relating to the above:
- A 31-year-old man, one of three men jailed for running drug rings between London, Birmingham and the South West, has been handed a 24-year sentence after admitting multiple drug offences, robbery and weapons’ offences. A cache of weapons, including a fully automatic AR-15 assault rifle, silencers, numerous rounds of ammunition and three improvised grenades were found at an address linked to the man in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. The drug operation was disrupted after the National Crime Agency’s Operation Venetic infiltrated the criminal messaging network, EncroChat. Following sentencing, a police spokesperson said, “The quantities of drugs and cash involved, together with the weapons seized, show the risks this group posed to our communities.”
Sentences and Convictions
We are aware of at least 59 reports in November 2022 of sentences and convictions for gun crime, including:
- Four men have been sentenced following the fatal shooting of a man in Islington, North London. A fifth man will be sentenced next month. After one of the men was robbed and injured in July 2020, the defendants collected a loaded gun and used the “find my iPhone’ app” to locate a group of people down an alleyway with the stolen property. Shortly afterwards one of the defendants shot a man on a nearby street before fleeing by car with the others. The victim, who had not been involved in the robbery, died at the scene shortly afterwards. A post-mortem examination revealed he had suffered four bullet wounds. A fifth man later disposed of the firearm, which has never been recovered. After one defendant was found guilty of murder another pleaded guilty to the same charge, they were both jailed for life. Two other defendants were jailed for a total of sixteen years for manslaughter, the fifth defendant awaits sentencing, also for manslaughter.
- A 58-year-old man has been jailed for eleven-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to possessing a prohibited pistol, possessing a firearm without a certificate and four counts of possessing firearm ammunition without a certificate. He was also convicted of conspiracy to sell or transfer prohibited weapons. Detectives recovered messages that the man sent to associates between March and June 2020 via the criminal network, EncroChat, indicating that he had firearms for sale. During a subsequent search of his home in Biddenden, Kent, officers seized a self-loading pistol and a magazine from a wardrobe as well as cartridges with full metal jacket bullets and two further pistols. A rifle and ammunition were also found at a storage unit leased by the man.
- Three members of an organised crime group have been jailed after their commercial-scale drug dealing activities in Bournemouth, Dorset were exposed when the criminal messaging network, EncroChat, was decrypted in 2020. Two brothers were each jailed for seventeen years for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and purchasing a firearm without authority, while a 44-year-old man received twelve years and four months for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, possessing a firearm without a certificate and possessing ammunition without a certificate. The two brothers led the gang, while the other man collected and stored a firearm that was recovered along with a large quantity of drugs when group members were arrested.
- A 34-year-old man has been jailed for nine years after pleading guilty to attempted murder, while his 24-year-old co-defendant received four years and ten months after admitting being involved in the culpable and reckless discharge of a firearm. In August 2021, the older man repeatedly fired a suspected Glock self-loading pistol at a house in Edinburgh, Scotland that was occupied by two adults. No one was injured but the daytime attack was witnessed by children playing outside in the street. The younger man acted as getaway driver and was arrested near the pair’s abandoned vehicle.
- A 28-year-old man has been jailed for eleven years and four months after admitting robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. His 26-year-old co-defendant received a six-year sentence. In December last year, the pair demanded cash from two people delivering fruit and vegetables in Boughton, Nottinghamshire while threatening to shoot them with an imitation firearm. One of the victims was then struck several times with the weapon, while the other was punched to the head. The younger man was identified from a palm print left on the side of the victims’ van.
- A teenage boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been handed a twelve-month referral order after pleading guilty to threatening behaviour and possession of a firearm. The youth pointed an unloaded BB gun at two women in Blackpool, Lancashire before pulling the trigger, leaving the victims “frightened and shocked”. The attack was recorded as a hate crime because offensive language was used in relation to the race and disability of one of the victims.
- A 67-year-old man has been jailed for eight years after pleading guilty to possession of ammunition without a certificate, possession of a prohibited weapon, possession of a firearm less than 30cm and possessing a firearm when prohibited for life, while a charge of allowing production of cannabis was left on file. When police officers searched the man’s home in Arrington, Cambridgeshire in April 2020, they seized a revolver-type handgun, ammunition and a Taser, while 1,033 cannabis plants were discovered in a nearby barn. While on bail, the man told police that he was being threatened by people in charge of the cannabis factory and, a few months later, he was treated in hospital for a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He claimed to have been shot by two gunmen but detectives determined that he had lied to distance himself from the drugs and possession of weapons investigation. Earlier this year, he was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
- A 38-year-old man has been handed a suspended nine-month prison term and ordered to pay costs and complete 120 hours of unpaid work and up to 25 rehabilitation activity days after pleading guilty to possession of a shotgun without a certificate. In February last year, up to six people armed with a machete threw rocks at two trucks at a farm in Clayton, West Yorkshire. They then used their car to ram a caravan occupied by the man’s son-in-law and his daughter, causing “considerable damage”. After the assailants fled on foot, the man fired a shotgun into the back of their abandoned car. When police officers responded, he told them he had been given the firearm three years previously. The gun and ammunition were forfeited to the court.
- A 53-year-old man has been jailed for two years after being convicted of possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear or alarm and witness intimidation. In May last year, the man pointed an unloaded air rifle at enforcement officers who called to his home in Darlington, Co. Durham to ask him to clear rubbish from the front of his property. The officers were unaware of the gun but, after a neighbour reported the act to police, an armed unit was called in. The man went on to try to intimidate a witness before his trial.
- Four gang members have been jailed for a total of over 70 years for drug and other offences relating to their involvement in a violent disturbance in February last year, during which they attacked members of a rival group that tried to take control of their cannabis farm. The gangs met on a quiet residential street in Burnley, Lancashire, ramming each other’s cars and fighting with weapons including baseball bats, saws, a machete and a gun. At least four gunshots were fired and one of the rival gang members was shot in the leg. Another suffered a serious head injury from a machete.
- A 29-year-old man has been jailed for four years and ten months after pleading guilty to robbery and possession of an imitation firearm. In June this year, the man entered a shop in Eaglescliffe, Co. Durham, pointed a gun at a staff member and forced her to hand over money from two tills. Following his arrest, police officers discovered that the man had broken into his father’s locked bedroom to steal the air weapon used in the robbery. The court heard that he had stolen the money after getting into drug debt.
- A man has been made the subject of a Section 37 Hospital Order after pleading guilty to robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent. After his van broke down in Lincoln, Lincolnshire in August last year, the man pointed an imitation firearm at another man before stealing his car. Firearms officers and a force helicopter were deployed and he was stopped soon afterwards. The gun was not recovered but officers subsequently retrieved a BB gun, bow and arrow set, various knives and two axes from the man’s home. The court heard that the offender, currently detained at a secure hospital, had been suffering from a psychotic illness at the time of the incident.
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: November 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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