Thu, Jan 05, 2012 - Page 6 News List

No plan to beef up UK gun laws after shootings

The Guardian, London

The British government said it had no plans to tighten or review gun laws following the shootings in County Durham, northeastern England, in which four people died, saying the UK’s current legislation on firearms were arguably the toughest in the world.

Police are investigating the deaths of three women and the man thought to have shot them in the village of Horden, Durham, on New Year’s Day.

They are expected to focus on why the man, Michael Atherton, had been allowed to hold six gun licenses.

Protecting safety

The prime minister’s office in Downing Street, London, said it needed to protect public safety and ensure controls are practical, but questions remain over why the owner of six guns was not checked after he admitted he had self-harmed.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the House of Commons’ home affairs select committee, said he was writing to Theresa May, the home secretary, to ask what progress she had made in responding to his committee’s call a year ago for codification of the 34 separate pieces of legislation covering UK gun law.

He said he was not seeking tougher gun laws but his committee had called for the government to follow a Canadian example whereby the partners of gun applicants are consulted before a license is provided or renewed.

Too long

He also criticized the fact that the Home Office had taken nine months to respond to this original report, and still said it was consulting on some of its proposals.

Grahame Morris, the Labour MP for Easington, the constituency in which the incident occurred, called for people to have patience and await the report of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

“There are bigger issues raised by this awful tragedy — whether it is appropriate to have firearms stored in a house and whether there should be some professional input into whether someone is in a mental state to be issued with a firearm license,” Morris said.

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