GUN clubs have defended the keeping of weapons at home, saying it is the safest way to store firearms used for sport.
Hartlepool has two gun clubs, one of which is the Hartlepool Rifle Club, which has around 100 members and the Oak Lodge Shooting Ground, in Brierton Lane, which also has around 100 enthusiasts on its books.
Club leaders today responded to the tragedy, but defended the use of firearms.
Sheila Harrison, Hartlepool Rifle Club secretary, said: “It’s shocking and terrible what has happened. Incidents of this nature always are, but it would be wrong to jump on the bandwagon and call for a change in the law to ban firearms.
“We have campaigned against three calls for bans and would continue to do so. There are very tight restrictions in this country for people to be granted firearms licences and you simply can’t legislate against incidents of this nature.
“There are some who would suggest storing firearms in a club instead of a home, but this would make clubs a target for those who wanted firearms and could increase the chances of them being circulated in the public.
“It’s believed it’s better controlled when people have weapons at home.
“We also have to think that shooting is an Olympic sport and people compete in this country at the very highest level. Clubs like this are to educate people about guns, to offer support and control.
“This is just a terrible, terrible tragedy.”
Ron Calvert, from Oak Lodge, which is a shotgun clay pigeon shooting club, said: “This is a tragic incident but you can’t just simply ban firearms and stop incidents like this.
“Anyone can go into a hardware store and buy a kitchen knife and if someone has a mind to do so they can cause an equal amount of damage and tragedy with a knife, and we have seen many incidents like that.
“There are very tight controls and restrictions for people to get firearms and firearms licences and clubs that offer members full support and a safe environment. But once these people go home we can’t prevent or know what can go on in a person’s mind.”