September 2022 Review

by Gun Control Network on 10-10-2022

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 September 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 September 2022.

                                   Figure 1: September 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 three reports in September 2022 concerning four gun deaths:

  • A man died after being shot on a street in Kensington, West London. Responding police officers gave emergency first aid before the victim was taken to hospital. He was pronounced dead a few hours later. A man has since been arrested on suspicion of murder.
  • A police officer fatally shot a man in Streatham Hill, South London. The victim’s car was rammed and boxed in before a single shot was fired through the driver’s side of the windscreen. It is believed the car was linked to a previous firearms incident.
  • Following reports of a firearm being used at an address in Portsmouth, Hampshire, armed police officers discovered the bodies of a man and a woman at the property. A murder investigation has been launched and the police are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident.

Inquests

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

Armed Domestic Violence and/or Victim Known to Perpetrator

We are aware of five reports in September 2022 that we believe to relate to the above:

  • A 47-year-old man was jailed for four years after admitting possessing an imitation firearm (air rifle) with intent to cause fear of violence, having a knife, assaulting a police officer, and possessing cocaine. In March this year, armed police officers responded after the man shouted threats while brandishing what looked like a rifle outside his home in Stowmarket, Suffolk. The court heard that there had been “ongoing issues” between the man and his neighbours, exacerbated by his mental health problems. He has since been evicted from his home and banned from contacting three of his former neighbours for five years.
  • A 36-year-old man was jailed for two-and-a-half years after admitting possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and stalking involving fear of violence. In December last year, the man went to his ex-partner’s home in Chesterfield, Derbyshire with an imitation handgun. Standing outside the house, where the woman, her new partner and her children were in bed, he shouted, “I will put a bullet in your head” and fired the weapon. The court heard that he had previously stalked his victim following the breakup of their relationship. The man was also handed a five-year restraining order.
  • A man has appeared in court after allegedly twice threatening his partner with what looked like a handgun in Glasgow, Scotland. On the second occasion, he reportedly held the firearm to her head and said, “I’ll do it”. Police officers subsequently searched the man’s home and recovered around £1620 worth of cannabis and a Russian manufactured carbon dioxide powered rifle that fired BB bullets. The man has since admitted possession of cannabis and having an air weapon without holding a certificate. Sentencing has been deferred pending background reports.
  • A 26-year-old man was jailed for fourteen months after pleading guilty to two counts of producing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. Following a drinking session in August this year, the man went to his uncle’s house in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire to confront him about a family disagreement. When his uncle and a cousin arrived home in a car, the man pointed an imitation firearm at the driver’s side window, aiming it twice more as the men reversed in an effort to escape. The court heard that the man had little recollection of how he got to his uncle’s house on the evening in question.
  • A 21-year-old man has been handed a suspended prison sentence of 20 months and ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and six days of rehabilitation activity after pleading guilty to possession of an imitation firearm with intent  and possession of cannabis with intent to supply. After falling out with a friend, the man sent him a video of himself shooting a firearm out of his car window, captioned, “watch I ain’t on a joke”. Police officers subsequently found cannabis and a firearm (described as a starting pistol or a BB gun) at his home in Barry, Glamorgan.

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

We are aware of at least one report in September 2022 that we believe to relate to the above:

  • See Gun Deaths above — A man died after being shot by a police officer in Streatham Hill, South London. 

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

  • Police officers Tasered and arrested a man after he allegedly stabbed two police officers in Leicester Square, Central London.

Animal Death and Injury

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

  • A 25-year-old man was handed an 18-month community order with 20 rehabilitation days after he pleaded guilty to firing an air weapon beyond premises and injuring a non-schedule 1 wild bird. In June this year, the man shot a black-headed gull with a meteor air rifle in the back garden of his home in Shalfleet, Isle of Wight. Some children found the bird nearby and it was taken to a vet. The gull had suffered serious wing damage and was put to sleep.
  • A 50-year-old man has been fined £200 and ordered to pay costs and compensation after admitting criminal damage and trespassing with an air weapon. In August last year, the man was discovered in his neighbour’s garden in Chesterfield, Derbyshire with an air gun, while a dead chicken and a dead duck were found nearby. Drunk at the time he was found, the man said that he could not remember killing the animals but accepted there was “no other explanation”.
  • A pet macaw that regularly flew wild in Reading, Berkshire has been shot dead. A post-mortem examination confirmed that she was shot with either an air weapon or shotgun.
  • A red kite is receiving veterinary treatment after being found with what are believed to be shotgun injuries in Stapleford Abbots, Essex.
  • A female swan died after being shot in the head in Winsford, Cheshire; a cygnet, rescued from the Leeds-Liverpool canal near Silsden, West Yorkshire, is recovering from a wound to the head consistent with being shot with an air rifle; a pair of swans has been shot dead on the River Alllen in Brockington, Dorset. In addition, police are investigating reports of captive and wild birds being shot with what is believed to be an air rifle in Wrexham, Denbighshire.
  • Cats have been shot and injured in South Wales, East London, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, South London and Lanarkshire, while three cats have died after being shot in Swansea, Essex and 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.

Sentences and Convictions

We are aware of at least 26 reports in September 2022 of sentences for gun crime, including:

 

  • A 40-year-old special constable has been handed a twelve-month community order with 200 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to possession of a prohibited firearm and two counts of possession of a weapon for the discharge of a noxious liquid/gas/electrical incapacitation device. In April this year, police officers found a handgun with ammunition and a hand-held electrical incapacitation device at the man’s home in Brixham, Devon. During further searches, officers retrieved rifle ammunition, a metal “swordstick” disguised as a walking cane and operational police equipment, including the  personal issue incapacitant spray and extendable baton. The gun, a prohibited revolver designed to fire high-velocity, air-powered pellets, is potentially lethal. The man has been suspended from duty and now faces an investigation.
  • Two men have been jailed for thirteen years, three months and eight years, respectively, after being found guilty of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. In September last year, after his wife had a fight with another woman in Bradford, West Yorkshire, the first man obtained a pistol and shot at a car being driven by the woman’s husband. The bullet lodged in a rear passenger door and the man managed to drive off, unscathed. The second man drove the first to the scene of the shooting and pursued the victim’s car as he tried to escape.
  • A 40-year-old man has been jailed for six years after admitting possession of a firearm, money laundering and production of cannabis. The offender was one of three men whose DNA was recovered from a fully automatic Luger machine pistol, a self-loading pistol, a loaded 9mm Smith and Wesson pistol and a loaded revolver, all of which were recovered from a property in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire in September 2020.
  • After being convicted of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life, two men aged 34 and 43 have been handed respective sentences of life in prison with a minimum term of eight years and fourteen years in custody. Acting on behalf of a third man, who has since fled the country, the 43-year-old asked his co-defendant to carry out a shooting in January this year — an attack described in court as one designed to cause “long-term terror”. The 34-year-old fired a sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun through the front door of a house in Bradford, West Yorkshire that was occupied by a couple and their three children. The male victim targeted was too scared to give evidence at the trial after being threatened.
  • Two men, aged 24 and 23, have handed respective prison sentences of six years and six years, nine months for two counts each of robbery and false imprisonment. In February 2020, the men forced their way into a home in Carlisle, Cumbria and threatened two male occupants with a gun and a knife. They forced the men to allow their ID to be used to create cryptocurrency accounts before stealing an Xbox and an iPhone. They warned the victims of “consequences” should they call police and one of them fired the gun outside the house. The thieves were located after one of them switched on the stolen Xbox and police officers recovered an imitation handgun with a silencer from the 23-year-old’s home.
  • A 21-year-old man has been jailed for fifteen months after pleading guilty to affray and breaching a previous suspended sentence. In April this year, the man fired a blank starter pistol towards a group of children playing near the bottom of his garden in Newcastle, Tyne & Wear. Armed police officers recovered the weapon, as well as a BB gun that had been hidden in the lining of a sofa. In a victim impact statement, one of the children said, “…it was the scariest thing that's ever happened to me. I was scared to play out in case he came back and found me. I'm worried he will come back and hurt me. I think about being shot at all the time, it's so clear in my head. I hope I never have to see the man again because of what he did to me and my friends…”
  • A 37-year-old man was fined £120 and ordered to pay costs and a surcharge after admitting possessing an air weapon when prohibited for life following a jail term for drug offences. After he was arrested for assault in December last year, police officers seized two air rifles from the man’s home in Caernarfon, Gwynedd. The weapons were released back into his possession a month later, no further action being taken on the allegation. The man was re-arrested almost three months later after police officers seized a break barrel air rifle and a metal tin of ammunition from his home. The court heard that the man claimed to have been confused by the situation; however, the magistrates’ chairman said, “You were on post sentence supervision at the time, and whatever the police did or did not do you knew quite well that you were prohibited from possessing firearms.”
  • Following a home-side homicide case, believed to be the first of its kind in England and Wales, three men have been convicted of murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 29 years. The convictions were given on the basis that the men took part in a gun battle with a rival gang in which both sides agreed to shoot and be shot at. During the shoot-out in Harlesden, North West London in July 2020, one of the men’s friends died after being shot twice in the back. The killer has never been identified. The three men were also handed concurrent life sentences for conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm and possession of a firearm. On sentencing, the judge said that, while the defendants would not have expected to end up in the dock accused of murder, “…anyone in this country who willingly participates in a gun battle in the street should not be surprised if the law holds him accountable for any loss of life as a result”.

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: September 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.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.