Gun laws petition launched

AN online petition urging for changes to gun laws has been launched in the wake of a New Year’s Day massacre in which three women lost their lives.

Michael Atherton gunned down his partner of 18 years Susan McGoldrick, 47, her sister Alison Turnbull, 44, and Alison’s daughter Tanya, 24 on January 1 at his home in Horden.

Susan’s daughter Laura, 19, escaped with minor injuries, and Atherton’s son Michael, 17, also survived the slaughter.

Now Alison’s son Bobby, 23, and the rest of his family have helped launch the Home Office e-petition to change “gun licensing procedures and administration to protect public safety as far as possible” and it already has more than 200 signatures.

Bobby, of Blackhall Colliery, believes Atherton, who was known to police for domestic abuse against Susan and had threatened suicide a few years before the attack in which he also killed himself, should never have been allowed to keep guns.

The petition calls for better co-operation between police and health professionals and asks for individuals with a criminal past, history of mental instability of domestic violence to be identified.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is also looking into the circumstances surrounding the granting of Atherton’s gun licence.

To sign the petition go to epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/33913