The government sought views on recommendations made to the Home Office for changes to the legislation on firearms. This is our response. 

The Femicide Census records the deaths of 74 women at the hands of a man using a firearm in the UK since 2009 . They are named below.

A further three women were killed by men using crossbows. In 2021, the coroner, Professor Paul Marks, submitted a report to the Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Minister for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse. Professor Marks said he was concerned there is “no on-going control, record or licensing requirement for [crossbows]” unlike firearms and shotguns. Because of this, he said, “the police have no record of who owns crossbows, how they are stored [or] the number that are in circulation.” Marks called on the Government to review the 1987 Act and the Offensive Weapons Act 2019, “with the intention of regulating the sale and possession of these lethal weapons.” (UK House of Commons, 2021: The Femicide Census supports this position and believes that ownership of a crossbow  should be subject to greater regulation than is currently the case.

Of the 74 women, 42 (56.8 %) women were killed by a current or former partner. Five women (6.8 %) were killed by their son. Four (5.4 %) women were killed by other family members. Eight women (10.8 %) were killed by men that they knew in some other context. Fourteen (18.9 %) women were killed by men who were strangers. We were unable to find details of the relationship between one woman and the man who killed her. In 21 cases, there were additional victims who were shot dead  Dependent children were  killed in three of these cases.

In cases where other victims were killed/shot over half of the perpetrators also shot themselves dead. 38 perpetrators killed themselves at the time of the offence and one perp  four days after (52% total).  The rate or murder-suicide in men who use firearms to kill women is nine times higher than the rate we have calculated for men who commit femicide in the UK in general ( 8.6% based on data from 2009 – 2018). This suggests that the method of killing and the psychologies of men who choose to kill using guns combine to create qualitative differences compared to other femicides.

The 74 women were killed by 83 men. Our records indicate that of these men, 34 (41 %) had a known history of violence, of which 31 (37 %) had histories of violence against women specifically. Of the 31 men with histories of violence against women, our records indicate this was known to the police in 24 cases. In four cases these men had convictions for violence against women In addition, one man had been cautioned, one was subject to a restraining order and one was subject to bail conditions at the time he committed the femicide. In six cases no action had been taken against the perpetrator after the report/s which proceeded him killing a woman, in a further two cases charges had been dropped. We were unable to find details of what action was taken subsequent to reports to the police of violence against women in nine cases. Our data shows that men with known histories of violence against women are able to access firearms which they then use to kill.

The Femicide Census supports stronger regulation of firearms. Where a man has a known history of violence, including violence against women and/or intimate partner violence or abuse, he should never be permitted to own a firearm. If men have a licence to own a gun, this must be disclosed to partners seeking information under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme.  The evidence that we have found shows that the existing ‘balance of probabilities test’ is not sufficient to save lives.

Where a man applies for a firearm licence and he has a known history of violence, consideration must also be given to this links with family members or others in his ‘firearms community.’ Cheryl Gabriel-Hooper was shot dead by her husband, a licensed firearms holder using an unlicensed gun. The murder took place 14 days after Ms Gabriel Hooper had contacted police to report concerns regarding her safety from her estranged husband. He had voluntarily surrendered his licensed weapons.  This illustrates why the Femicide Census considers that the police should be granted a specific power of entry to be able to seize shotguns, firearms and ammunition where there is a risk to public safety or the peace and the certificate holder. (Question one). However, this example also illustrates that where a gun holder appears to cooperate with the police and agrees to voluntary surrender, it does not mean that the risk is gone/ or access to firearms is prevented.

There is a well-established body of research which shows that gun licensing laws affect femicide rates and in particular intimate partner femicides and mass killings, including increases in murder-suicides in countries including the USA and Switzerland (Nowak, 2012).  Men are more likely than women to be bearers of guns, (Women’s International League for Freedom, n.d.). Women were found to be three times more likely to be murdered if there was a gun in their home (Langley, 2008) and research from the USA has also shown a correlation between women obtaining a gun for their own protection and risk of murder. Forty per cent of the variance in femicide rates in US states is explained by state, 2021-level firearm ownership rates alone (Siegel and Rothman, 2016).

Between 2009 and 2018, at least 54 percent of mass shootings in the USA, defined as shootings in which more than three people are killed in one event, were related to domestic or family violence, (Everytown For Gun Safety, 2021). Between 2006 and 2020, 92.5 per cent of all mass shooters in the USA were male, 89.9 per cent of mass shooters who killed family members were male, with 56.3 per cent of victims of mass family shootings and 47.1 per cent of all mass shootings being female (Fox and Levin, 2021). Meanwhile the confluence of guns, misogyny male entitlement and resentment of women’s emancipation can be seen in the 1989 massacre at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Canada, when Marc Lepine killed 14 women, and injured 14 others before killing himself, claiming that he was ‘fighting feminism’ before opening fire. The incident prompted the tightening of gun control laws in Canada. So-called ‘incel’ (involuntary celibate) related murders such as that committed by Elliot Rodger, 22, in Isla Vista, California, in which he killed 6 people (3 shot and three stabbed) and injured 14 others as further examples of risks to women when men can access guns. On acquiring his first gun Rodgers wrote that he “felt a new sense of power. I was now armed. Who’s the alpha male now, bitches? I thought to myself, regarding all of the girls who’ve looked down on me in the past.” (Solnit 2015) and in his video diary said “I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see inside there. All those girls I’ve desired so much. They have all rejected me and looked down on me as an inferior man,” (in Garvey, 2014.) Whilst we are aware that there are not currently proposals to reproduce the USA’s liberal approach to firearms ownership and licensing, it is worth acknowledging the serious impact of such lack of regulation on mass shootings and their relationship to femicide. This shows that where men are violent, abusive and/or controlling of their current or former partner, others are also at risk. For these reasons, the Femicide Census does not support any steps which would reduce the regulation of access to firearms in the UK.

UK women killed by men using firearms (2009 – present)

  1. 2010 Rebecca Thorpe
  2. 2010 Susan Huges
  3. 2010 Jennifer Jackson
  4. 2010 Jane Robinson
  5. 2010 Agnes Sina-Inakoju
  6. 2010 Aytul Serbetli
  7. 2009 Julie Harrison
  8. 2009 Mary Griffiths
  9. 2009 Jannette Jones
  10. 2009 Elaine Shaw
  11. 2009 Beverley Shears
  12. 2011 Jennifer (Jennie) Leeman
  13. 2011 Christine Chambers
  14. 2011 Judith Garnett
  15. 2012 Andrea Johnson
  16. 2012 Patricia Seddon
  17. 2012 Corrin Barker
  18. 2012 Susan McGoldrick
  19. 2012 Alison Turnbull
  20. 2012 Tanya Turnbull
  21. 2012 Jean Blakey
  22. 2012 Maureen Tyler
  23. 2012 Fiona Bone
  24. 2012 Nicola Hughes
  25. 2013 Sabrina Moss
  26. 2013 Margaret Knight
  27. 2013 Victoria Rose
  28. 2013 Hayley Pointon
  29. 2014 Christine Lee
  30. 2014 Lucy Lee
  31. 2014 Elizabeth (Anne) Knott
  32. 2014 Leeann Foley
  33. 2014 Wendy Ambrose
  34. 2014 Shereka Fab-Ann Marsh
  35. 2013 Caroline Parry
  36. 2015 Rita King
  37. 2015 Kerry Michelle Reeves
  38. 2015 Maureen Postlethwaite
  39. 2016 Allison Muncaster
  40. 2016 Claire Hart
  41. 2016 Charlotte Hart
  42. 2016 Helen Joanne (Jo) Cox
  43. 2016 Annie Besala Ekofo
  44. 2017 Pauline Cockburn
  45. 2018 Cheryl Gabriel-Cooper
  46. 2018 Michelle Savage
  47. 2018 Heather Whitbread
  48. 2011 Marion Millican
  49. 2010 Diane Harley
  50. 2011 Sophie Taylor
  51. 2012 Lauren O’Neill
  52. 2019 Christy Walshe
  53. 2019 Janette Dunbavand
  54. 2019 Marion Price (Little)
  55. 2019 Kathleen (Gwen) Gold
  56. 2019 Lyra McKee
  57. 2020 Debbie Zurick
  58. 2020 Gwendoline Bound
  59. 2020 Kelly Fitzgibbons
  60. 2020 Silke Hartshorne Jones
  61. 2020 Aya Hachem
  62. 2020 Margaret Johnson
  63. 2021 Carol Smith
  64. 2021 Catherine Wardleworth
  65. 2021 Maxine Davison
  66. 2021 Kate Shepherd
  67. 2021 Pauline Angell
  68. 2022 Wendy Morris
  69. 2022 Ashley Dale
  70. 2022 Jacqueline Rutter
  71. 2022 Elle Edwards
  72. 2023 Emma Pattison
  73. 2023 Hayley Burke
  74. 2023 Rose Jobson

In addition, the following women were shot by men using crossbows

  1. 2010 Suzanne Blamires
  2. 2010 Shelly Armitage
  3. 2018 Sana Muhammad