Son’s fight to change gun law

Bobby Turnbull at Hartlepool train station
Bobby Turnbull at Hartlepool train station

A MAN whose mother, sister and aunt were massacred by a gunman is today taking his battle to change the law to the Houses of Parliament.

Bobby Turnbull wants to tighten legislation on gun ownership after losing his mother Alison Turnbull, 44, sister Tanya, 24, and aunt Susan McGoldrick, 47, on New Year’s Day last year.

They were shot by Michael Atherton at his home in Horden, East Durham.

The 42-year-old, who legally owned firearms despite a history of domestic violence, then killed himself.

Mr Turnbull has already won the backing of shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, after meeting her in the House of Commons earlier this month.

Today he is due to meet Damian Green, Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, where Mr Turnbull will continue to lobby for tougher rules on gun licensing.

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.

The 24-year-old said the meeting with Ms Cooper was “brilliant”.

He added: “She said to me ‘You can tell that the system is failing. I want to help you as much as I can’,” he recalled.

She will encourage other MPs, domestic violence campaigners and new Police and Crime Commissioners to join his campaign.

“I am going to see Damian Green on Monday and I hope to get as good a result from him as I did from Yvette Cooper,” he said.

“It makes me feel like someone is listening to me.

“Over the last year, sometimes I have thought I am getting nowhere, but it’s not something I will give up on.

“These two meetings have given me a huge confidence boost that this year something will be changed.

“I will be over the moon. It will make me feel like I have helped prevent someone losing a life.

“I will never know if it prevents a tragedy but I hope it will stop someone else going through what I have.”

Inquests into the deaths will be held next month, when more answers to what happened to his family that dreadful night will be given, he hopes.

Mr Turnbull said: “There’s a lot of little questions I have that I want answering.

“I hope they will come out through the course of the inquest, which might put my mind at rest and help me to understand.”

Mr Turnbull hopes the coroner will make recommendations to the Home Secretary at the end of the hearing to prevent further tragedy.

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