Obviously banning guns means nothing, absolutely nothing, to those who are determined to break the law.
From The Guardian: Police and border officials are struggling to stop a rising supply of illegal firearms being smuggled into Britain, a senior police chief has warned.
Chief constable Andy Cooke, the national police lead for serious and organised crime, said law enforcement had seen an increased supply of guns over the past year, and feared that it would continue in 2019.
The Guardian has learned that the situation is so serious that the National Crime Agency (NCA) has taken the rare step of using its legal powers to direct every single police force to step up the fight against illegal guns. The NCA has used tasking powers to direct greater intelligence about firearms to be gathered by all 43 forces in England and Wales.
Another senior law enforcement official said that “new and clean” weapons were now being used in the majority of shootings, as opposed to guns once being so difficult to obtain that they would be “rented out” to be used in multiple crimes.
Cooke, the Merseyside chief constable, told the Guardian: “We in law enforcement expect the rise in new firearms to continue. We are doing all we can. We are not in a position to stop it anytime soon. Law enforcement is more joined up now than before, but the scale of the problem is such that despite a number of excellent firearms seizures, I expect the rise in supply to be a continuing issue.”
The increasing supply of guns belies problems with UK border security and innovations by organised crime gangs. Smugglers have increasingly found new ways and innovative routes to get guns past border defences.
Cooke said more are coming in from eastern Europe and the western Balkans and also component pieces are being smuggled in via the fast parcel system, hidden among a growth in packages because of the explosion of internet shopping.
Guns are being bought on the dark web and the UK is also seeing weapons designed for sports shooting being smuggled in, as well as blank firing weapons bought for just £100 being converted in the UK. Criminals have also obtained high end automatic weapons such as an AK47.
Cooke said that the dynamics of the streets of British cities had changed and that criminals were more willing to use guns: “If they bring them in people will buy them. It’s a kudos thing for organised criminals.”
He said said one factor was a reduction in police proactive work because of government budget cuts leading to big falls in officer numbers: “The ability of law enforcement to respond to this rise in the criminal use of firearms has been hampered by the large reduction in police officers and the resultant diminishing of proactive capability to keep these criminals on the back foot.”
Simon Brough, head of firearms at the NCA, said: “The majority of guns being used are new, clean firearms … which indicates a relatively fluid supply.”
He said shotguns were 40% of the total, with an increase in burglaries to try and steal them. Handguns are the next biggest category, most often smuggled in from overseas, with ferry ports such as Dover being a popular entry point into the UK for organised crime groups: “We’re doing a lot to fight back against it,” Brough said, adding that compared to other European countries, the availability in the UK was relatively lower.
Gun crime has been rising and the last set of official figures about recorded firearms offences, showing a 5% fall to 6,362 in the year ending June 2018, is seen as a blip against a trend of rising gun offences. Statistics released earlier in 2018 had shown gun crime up 11% in 2017/18, and in the same period, the Metropolitan police said discharges of lethal barrelled firearms rose by 23%. Compared to 2015/16, there has been a 67% increase in the capital alone.
Some in law enforcement tackling serious and organised crime believe more attention needs to be paid to that type of criminality, instead of just the intense focus on the terrorist threat. Cooke said: “The two greatest national security threats are terrorism and serious and organised crime. Nationally, we need to ensure serious and organised crime gets the same funding as the terrorist threat. More people die after getting shot by serious and organised criminals than by terrorists.”
Counter-terrorism sources tell the Guardian that the most likely route for terrorists in the UK to get guns will be from criminals, not by specifically importing them. In a 2016 case, a group of Isis-inspired terrorists led by Tarik Hassane, dubbed “the surgeon”, got a firearm from criminal contacts as part of a plot to stage drive by shootings.
The growing supply of guns in the UK, rising year on year according to intelligence reports, alarms those trying to stop a Paris-style marauding gun attack in the UK. They fear the more firearms are available, the easier it will be for terrorists to get them from criminals.
Cooke said: “If organised criminals have these guns, it’s not a big leap of faith that they will deal them to terrorists.”
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