Gun crime makes up a small percentage of all crimes committed, but it can have devastating consequences.
Gun crime includes any crime that involves the use of a gun or firearm. This includes:
- A murder where the victim was shot
- Any situation where a gun was fired, whether anyone was injured or not
- A robbery or burglary where the thieves carried a gun as a weapon
- Intimidating people with a firearm
- Carrying a gun that is banned, like a handgun
- Carrying or using an imitation gun
- Hiding a gun or keeping it for someone else
- Owning a gun without a licence.
To tackle gun crime, sentences for people convicted of crimes involving a gun have become a lot tougher. Anyone who is found guilty of possessing an illegal firearm faces a minimum sentence of five years. It's also now illegal to sell realistic imitation guns, even if they can't be turned into weapons that fire real ammunition.
However, being involved in a gun crime can cause serious shock and distress, even if a gun isn't actually fired, but only used as a threat, it still remains a very serious crime.
Gang is a term widely used which relates to a range of crimes such as:
- Anti-social behaviour
- Alcohol and drug-related crime
- Gang fighting
- Violence (including guns)
- Intimidation and threats.
- When any firearm or shotgun licence is being issued or renewed, the police must be absolutely satisfied that the applicant is a suitable person to own the weapon and will not be a danger or nuisance to the public.
- Firearms certificates cover all firearms except for shotguns. A separate licence is required for each individual weapon. A single shotgun licence covers an unlimited number of shotguns.
- It is an absolute condition of either type of licence that all guns and ammunition must be stored in a secure place, and that it is impossible for unauthorised people to gain access to them.
How can I protect myself?
When guns are involved, any crime becomes far more serious and far more dangerous. It is in everyone’s interests to stop guns being brought illegally into their neighbourhood.
What you can do to protect yourself:
- If you suspect that someone is carrying a gun, do not approach them. Even if you believe the weapon to be a replica, take the situation seriously and report it.
- Never carry a replica gun. There have been tragic incidents in the past where police officers have assumed that a weapon is real and responded accordingly.
- All air guns are legally firearms, therefore it is illegal to carry them, even unloaded, without authority or good reason.
- Air guns with a self-contained gas cartridge system are now also banned. It is illegal to buy or sell them.
- You are more likely to be a victim of gun crime if you carry a gun yourself.
What you can do to protect yourself against gangs:
- Stick to well known or popular routes late at night.
- Avoid quiet short cuts, alleyways, subways or places such as narrow pathways.
- Start a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
- Only travel with licensed taxi firms.
- Do not flaunt expensive devices such as mobile phones.
- Register your mobile phone or bike with the police.
- If you are using public transport late at night stick to busy carriages or sit near the driver.
- Get involved in local community groups.
It's a tough call walking away from gun crime. For more on how guns destroy lives click here.
Where can I get help or further information?
Reporting gun and gang crime
- If you see someone with a gun in a public place, call 999 but do so without drawing attention to yourself.
- If you believe that someone has a gun without a licence, even if they are looking after it for someone else, you should notify the police by calling 101.
- If you want to stay anonymous, call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111, a national charity who will pass on your information without taking any of your personal details.
- If you believe that someone who holds a licensed shotgun or firearm certificate is using or storing their guns irresponsibly or without the right level of security call 101, or ring Crimestoppers if you want to make the report anonymously.