Gun laws progress

Bobby Turnbull
Bobby Turnbull

AN MP says there has been some excellent progress made in a campaign to change the law after the Horden shotgun massacre.

New Year’s Day in 2012 saw three members of the same family killed by taxi driver Michael Atherton who then turned a gun on himself.

Since then Bobby Turnbull, who works at Hartlepool Golf Club, has campaigned to get the law on gun licensing changed.

It comes after an inquest into the deaths of Bobby’s mum Alison Turnbull, 44, sister Tanya, 24, and aunt Susan McGoldrick, 47, heard Atherton had a history of domestic violence, but was still allowed a licence to hold guns.

Mr Turnbull has met Damian Green, Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper during severaal trips to the House of Commons.

Atherton had his guns removed by police in 2008 after he threatened while drunk to blow his own head off.

But the weapons, including the shotgun he used to kill three members of his family, were returned weeks later.

Mr Turnbull, who is raising an e-petition, is calling for a series of changes to gun laws, including stricter checks of medical records for licensees.

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, has praised Mr Turnbull for his campaign.

He said: “My party has stated when we return to office the law will be changed and it is part of these efforts where for firearms licences there will be a presumption against that licence.

“We have made several statments, the Government had a chance to change the law.

“I have got to pay tribute to the family in Horden, they have lobbied ministers and shadow ministers and written to MPs in a very sober way to set out the law.

“What that’s done is its has affected a change in policy to my party so I think that’s a substantial change.”

The Government previously announced new police guidance on issuing firearms licences, but Mr Turnbull said it is “not good enough”.

The new Home Office guidance published in August states individuals with a history of domestic violence should not be allowed to possess a firearm or shotgun.

It also says that every incident of domestic violence should prompt a police review of whether a certificate holder should be allowed to hold a firearm without posing a danger to the public.

The new guidance will form part of the Firearms Guide, which police forces use when deciding whether to grant a certificate to an applicant.