Armed Domestic Violence


Incidents involving victims who are known to the perpetrator.

Weapons used include shotguns, airguns, replica guns, imitation guns,BB guns and airsoft guns.  

Perpetrators kill,  injure, threaten, intimidate, control or generate fear of violence to partners, ex partners, family members, neighbours, work colleagues or others known to the perpetrator.




In England and Wales 1 in 3 women killed by their husband is shot with a weapon which is legally owned  – 64% of these murders involve licensed shotguns.

(Source Criminal Statistics England and Wales 2000 p 66 - 67)


Family killings are the only category of homicides where women outnumber men as victims. The trauma of threat is greater when a husband or partner has a gun and the presence of a firearm reduces a woman's capacity for resistance or escape.


All the gun massacres in UK in recent decades have involved licensed gun owners and/or legally held guns apart from one about which further information is awaited*.

All the gun massacres in UK in recent decades, apart from one, have involved victims known to the perpetrator (domestic violence.)


Mass shootings in the UK - *legal guns and/or licensed perpetrators.


2016 Sleaford, Lincolnshire 2 dead + suicide, Lance Hart

NB A police statement confirms that the petrator did not hold a gun licence at the time of the shooting. However press reports from a former neighbour indicate that the perpetrator apparently did own a shotgun sometime before the shooting.

2014 Farnham, Surrey, 2 dead, John Lowe.

2012 Horden, County Durham, 3 dead + suicide, Michael Atherton.

2010 Cumbria, 12 dead + suicide, 11 injured, Derrick Bird.

2009 Maesbrook, Shropshire, 2 dead + family pets + suicide, Christopher Foster.

2001 North West London, 3 dead + suicide, Peter Denyer.

1996 Dunblane, Scotland, 17 dead + suicide, 11 injured, Thomas Hamilton.

1989 Monkseaton, Tyneside, 1 dead, 16 injured, Robert Sartin.

1988 Bristol, 2 dead, 1 injured, 2 bludgeoned to death, Kevin Weaver.

1987 Hungerford, Bucks, 16 dead + suicide, 16 injured, Michael Ryan.

1978 West Midlands, 5 dead, 3 seriously injured, Barry Williams. 




The greatest risk of gun violence to women is in their own homes, and when a woman is killed at home it is her partner or male relative who is most likely to be the murderer, often with a prior history of domestic violence. 


A gun stored in the home increases the likelihood of those living there being involved in a gun accident, gun suicide, gun injury or gun homicide.  Guns available on impulse are used in response to traumatic situations, sometimes with tragic consequences.  Just because a gun is legally owned does not mean it is safe. 


Legal gun owners are not immune from emotional physical social, financial or relationship crises.


There is a tendency for domestic shootings to be treated as tragic but private incidents, yet they make up a significant proportion of all gun homicides in Great Britain. The possibility that guns kept in the home can be and are abused should never be ignored.


There have been a number of occasions when Police failed to respond adequately  to reports of threats being made by legal gun owners.  In some cases these failures have led to injuries, fatalities and suicides and have been the subject of criticism from families and Coroners.




Because "low powered" airguns can be bought relatively cheaply and easily and without any background checks on the criminal or medical history of the gun owner in England and Wales*, they are the weapons of choice for perpetrators of domestic violence and those with a history of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, mental illness, antisocial behaviour and violent behaviour.


Even when victims are not physically injured by shots from airguns the trauma of being threatened with a gun can have long term life changing consequences for adults and children who witness, or are involved in incidents of armed domestic violence. 


The immense financial and human cost of dealing with armed domestic violence  is met by Hospitals, General Practitioners, the Ambulance Service, Police, the Justice System, Local Authorities, Housing Organisations, Social Services and others, from funds provided by the public.


*The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill

The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2015 and received the Royal Assent in August 2015. Under the provisions of the Act it will be an offence for a person to use, possess, purchase or acquire an air weapon in Scotland without holding an air weapon certificate.

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