Drive-by shooting highlights danger of ‘cheap’ gun fees

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A CRIME chief says this week’s shooting incident has highlighted the chilling dangers of guns.

Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg and anti-gun campaigner Bobby Turnbull and after Prime Minister David Cameron turned down calls to raise weapon licence fees.

Mr Cameron last week vetoed a proposal to raise the cost of a gun licence from £50 to £88.

Administering and issuing each document costs an average of £196, costing police forces £17m annually to subsidise.

Mr Turnbull lost his aunt, Susan McGoldrick, 47, his mum and Susan’s sister Alison Turnbull, 44, and his own sister, Tanya Turnbull, 24, in a shotgun massacre in Horden on New Year’s Day 2012.

They were shot by Susan’s partner, taxi driver Michael Atherton, 42, who then turned the gun on himself.

Mr Hogg said: “Police forces across the country have faced cuts that are too deep and too fast.

“While we are taking the tough decisions about how to allocate our increasingly limited budget, it defies logic that the police are still forced to subsidise gun licences. And Monday’s events in Wingate are a chilling reminder of the potential dangers of firearms.

“I am dismayed that even a proposal that would still keep the police footing over 50 per of the bill has been blocked by the Prime Minister’s office.

“It is just commonsense to have a licence system in place that recoups the costs of administration.

“I understand that many gun owners in County Durham and Darlington need their firearms as tools.

“However, £196 for a five-year licence would still be a modest fee, and would lift the burden on our already strained police service.”

Hartlepool Golf Club worker Mr Turnbull, who has been campaigning for tougher gun controls since Atherton’s attack, said: “I’m appalled to hear that the proposal to increase the fee for gun licences has been blocked.

“I have been promised by two different ministers that we would be moving to full cost recovery sooner rather than later.

“This decision makes me more determined to continue campaigning for increased licence fees.”