Executive war games fuel illegal guns market

The boom in executive-style war games, such as paintballing, is providing criminals with a ready supply of guns that are being converted into lethal weapons, a confidential Scotland Yard report says.

The reports also highlights a small Derringer blank-firing pistol, which police say is easy to convert into a deadly weapon and has become particularly popular with the girlfriends of drug dealers because it is easy to hide.

The compact Kimar Derringer blank-firing pistol is "notoriously simply to convert," says the report.

"Derringers are particularly popular with female companions of 'Yardies' [Jamaican crack cocaine dealers] because of the ease of concealment."

To convert the Italian-made guns, a hole is drilled through the blocked barrel. "The whole process takes less than two hours and would cost usually around £50 in a backstreet workshop," the report notes.

The Metropolitan Police study concludes that one of the main factors behind the current spate of shootings is the conversion of replica and air weapons into pistols that fire live ammunition.

Gun crime in England and Wales has risen to record levels, with 10,250 incidents, including 80 murders, involving firearms in the year up to April.

The restricted internal report, "Tackling Gun Crime in London", was written earlier this year by officers from the Metropolitan Police's specialist crime directorate.

The report warns: "In recent years there has been an extraordinary improvement in the quality of the replica weapons available on the British firearms market, and, in particular, a rapid growth in 'air-soft', black-powder, CO2 or 'blank-firer' replica weap-ons, directed in particular at war games enthusiasts and at other 'sport shooters'.

"Replica weapons can be purchased directly from sports goods stores, gunsmiths or from Army and Navy-style market stalls, in stores dedicated to the pursuit of war game equipment and clothing, mail order advertisements that appear in gun magazines or they can be obtained from suppliers who advertise over the internet."

The air weapons are converted by drilling out the gas cartridge, which is used like a sleeve for the live round of ammunition to fit into. The airguns can be sold to anyone over 17 because they are not classified as firearms.

The Met believes most gun incidents now involve converted weapons.

The study says that the number of firearms incidents in London increased by about 700 to 5,410 in 2002. The most recent figures show that the Met secured a drop of about 14 per cent in gun crimes in the year to September.

Recent action against armourers includes a raid on a suspected mini arms factory in south-east London last Thursday. Police seized about 60 gas-fired, replica firearms that were being converted to fire live ammunition.

The firearms assessment warns: "A big threat facing the Metropolitan Police Service at present is the availability and use of converted replica weapons.

"The legal replica market of air weapons and blank firers is growing in the UK and there is no control system in place. Weapons are sold through a variety of means including sports shops, backstreet stores, magazines, mail order and the internet."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas