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Are gun laws tough enough?

10:45 UK time, Thursday, 3 June 2010

The family of gunman Derrick Bird say they have no idea why he carried out the "horrific" shootings in Cumbria.

Two statements were read at St Michael's Church in Lamplugh, the village where one of Bird's brothers, his twin, was found dead.

Later hundreds of people gathered in Seascale, the village where Bird killed three people, for the first of two memorial services.

On Thursday Home Secretary Theresa May told MPs that lessons would be learnt in the wake of the shootings. She added that the British gun laws are already among the toughest in the world. Mr Cameron said there should not be a "knee-jerk reaction" to changing gun ownership laws.

Could tighter gun laws have prevented the Cumbria shootings? Do the reasons for gun ownership need to be revised? Should people be assessed before being permitted to own a gun? What needs to happen now?

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.


Page 1 of 17

  • Comment number 1.

    Why did a man that lived in a terraced house in a village have a licence for a shotgun and a rifle? I should have thought that the minimum requirement would be to be a farmer or landowner and thus be able to justify using these weapons as part of pest control.

  • Comment number 2.

    A total ban on handguns in Britain became law after the Government extended it to include the disabled and competition shooters.
    The Firearms (Amendment) Bill extends the handgun ban introduced in the wake of the Dunblane massacre to include all smaller .22 weapons."

    Semi-automatic and pump-action centrefire rifles were banned following the massacre in Hungerford, Berks, in August 1987. Michael Ryan...killed 16 people, including his own mother, and wounded 15 others.

    Will shotguns and .22 rifles now be banned after 12 people were murdered? Probably not as they are 'working' guns used by farmers and landowners to shoot vermin and for it's a bit of a moot question really...they won't get any stricter.

  • Comment number 3.

    Our gun laws are strict enough, in one regard they could be improved, all licence holders should be compelled to undergo annual pyschological tests and assessment by suitably qualified medical persons, at the licence holders cost, to verify their being mentally and emotionally suitable to possess a firearm. Such a system would need to be rigorously enforced but even so there will still be the odd but hopefully rare event involving the misuse of a firearm by somebody in a mentally or emotionally unfit state but the risk should be small enough.

  • Comment number 4.

    I've just heard a similar debate on jeremy vine, which also included blaming the police for this. there really is only one person to blame for all of this and it would seem that after killing and injuring so many, he eventually turned the gun on himself. I'm yet to be convinced that our laws are inadequate. lets learn lessons from this by all means, but lets stop laying blame at the feet of the wrong people

  • Comment number 5.

    There are a number of people suffering a great and tragic loss. However, it really is known that those who wish to get and use guns still manage it, the laws don't work, and 'toughening them up' will not either. You can not protect absolutely everyone every minute of every day.
    What I do find surprising is that this 'rampage' went on for 3 hours before the killer himself ended it by shooting himself. Where were the police? We have the greatest number of cameras per head of population in the world (worse even than those suffering under dictatorships), we have armed police, police able to find cars to run up and down motorways looking for speeding drivers (in order to impose fines), police able to intervene and kill people at peaceful demonstrations, police able to walk around knocking on doors in the early hours to tell me I have a bedroom window open (yes honestly!)... yet for 3 hours a man can drive around Cumbria with a gun hanging out of his car and there are no police to run him off the road?

  • Comment number 6.

    As I understand it, to get a gun license you have to give a good reason for owning a gun. What reason does a taxi driver have for owning a shotgun and rifle with telescopic sights? The gun laws are tough enough but it appears the enforcement isn't.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think there will be knee jerk reaction to this and as usual lawful, restrained and legal gun owners will be a political sop for the government. Banning guns will not work as there are thousands upon thousands of illegal guns here in the UK and are used daily on our streets.
    To those who say we should ban them all I say is that we should view alcohol in the same way. Lawfully used and obtained it is ok, but each week thousands of people are injured and many killed by people who have abused alcohol even when it has been legally purchased.
    The victims of alcoholic violence and those who relatives who have died through alcoholic murder are feeling the same feelings as the relatives of those poor people who were killed by this man.
    Please let’s not have quick knee jerk laws over ownership of legal guns.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Yes they are tough enough. Guns drugs and any other thing that is illegal will always end up in the hands of people who don't care about the laws, making more laws will do absolutely nothing. the .22 rifle he had must have been illegal as the legal pressure they are set to is 12fps, this is enough to kill a rabbit so he must have had it enhanced and therefore illegal yet he had a gun license. Gun laws work to an extend that we all don't have guns its just a minority, but we can't take them away or make them more harsher, things happen we just need to be grateful its not on a daily basis in this country.

  • Comment number 10.

    I expect we'll have another knee jerk reaction to this outrage, without thinking it through, without the full facts being understood. One fact is that a seeming decent, ordinary bloke managed to get hold of guns illegally, so one question should be "how, given the tight current laws on guns, did this happen?". Well one way is that these illegal were obtained via criminals, so one would say "why are those people not in jail and can continue to obtain and provide illegal weapons?" Well, that is because we have a very criminal friendly judicial system which does nothing the to punish and keep criminals off the streets. While criminals can supply guns, the potential for someone "going postal" using guns will remain.

  • Comment number 11.

    The gun laws would not have made any difference. The problem was Derrick. Like others he would have used other means to kill if guns were not available. His car for instance.
    This is just the usual reactionary response for political gain.
    And of course it is a gift to the media.

  • Comment number 12.

    As the holder of a shotgun certificate I'm stunned and appalled by this terrible tragedy. Anyone's first thoughts must be with the family and friends of those murdered or hurt by this act of lunacy. The question of gun laws will of course have to be looked at again though it is already quite a process to get issued with a shotgun certificate and even more onerous to get a firearms licence. I think those of us who shoot will have to cooperate and understand if its made more difficult to own a weapon but I hope, though it can be no comfort to those involved in this senseless and beastly act, that the extreme rarity of acts like this will be recognised.

  • Comment number 13.

    Such a tragic event, my sympathies are with those caught up in the shootings & those who lost friends & family.

    As a firearms certificate holder myself, I feel the shooting community will support any sensible recommendations made by the Police & MPs. We fully recognise that protection of the public is paramount. However, any changes must be realistic and not simply knee-jerk reactions to calm public opinion without offering any real benefit. The shooting community does police itself, and would welcome any opportunity to work with the police in making it genuinely safer.

  • Comment number 14.

    The UK is pretty safe when it comes to gun crime. Its rare for the sort of terrible that happened yesterday to happen here. I don't think the laws need tightened up.

  • Comment number 15.

    Q, Could tighter gun laws have stopped the Cumbria shootings?

    A, No! He was a licenced gun owner and from all that has been said so far, there was nothing to indicate that this man would have done this.

    Q, Do too many people hold gun licenses?

    A, How can you tell? Just because one man has gone on a shooting rampage is no reason to tar all with the same brush and assume that all those who own weapons are capable of such an awful tragedy.

    Q, What needs to happen now?

    A, Nothing! Those who are bereaved, need to be consoled, the police need to investigate what has taken place and the people of England need to refrain from the usual knee jerk reaction that will see ministers and left-wing groups clambering over one another to ban guns.

    There is nothing wrong with gun ownership and for many people, especially in rural areas, these guns are an extention of their way of life and their making a livlihood. If this man was intent on causing trouble and did not have access to a gun, he (like anyone0 has access to a vast array of available weaponary, from axes and swords to a gold club - all capable of delivering serious injury and death.

    What we have seen is truely awful and we as a nation would serve this situation better by allowing those who have suffered to grieve in peace and those who are able to conduct their lives with guns by their sides, to do so without interference.

  • Comment number 16.

    O dear, here we go again, someone has run berserk with a gun therefore we have to assume all gun owners are going to do the same, so lets have more yet ineffectual repressive legislation to stop them carrying out their chosen hobby peacefully.
    Yes, it is tragic that a maniac has killed 12 people, and every law abiding gun owner in the country will be appalled, as I am, and, yes I feel very sad for the victims and their loved ones.
    But lets look at the facts: this is the third such incident in 30 years. each of the previous incidents lead to legislation that penalised law abiding citizens but did precisely nothing to stop the real problem, which is illegal ownership and criminal usage of firearms, and no amount of legislation is going to change that.
    Shooting as a sport is a highly demanding activity that improves mental coordination and concentration. It is carried out under rigidly controlled conditions, with rigorous safety controls, and should be encouraged, especially for the young, as the discipline and concentration required has been shown to improve performance at school.
    Finally, last week several children were killed because a driver apparently made a stupid manoeuvre and caused a coach crash: where are the demands for new legislation to prevent that happening again?

  • Comment number 17.

    Banning guns will not work as people will still find ways of getting and keeping them. Every single day as many people get killed on the UK's roads as died in yesterday's shooting so why not just ban cars?

  • Comment number 18.

    a yearly mental health check is needed in top of already inplace requirements to obtain a license.

    or you simply get rid of all guns. there is no point in owning a gun. a social use of a gun to go bird shooting is not reason enough to risk the odd maniac going on a rampage.

    either strict mental health checkups are put in place or the government announces dates in which ALL guns can be handed in at any police station. licenses are not to be re-handed out and existing licenses in curculation to be made worthless. in addition, for those who hold guns illegally and not hand them in we need a detterent to hold onto and keep guns.

  • Comment number 19.

    There is No need for anyone to keep guns outside registered gun clubs, unless they are a member of the armed forces or the police (and even in those instances, the checks should be improved and increased). This is not, thankfully, the 51st state of the USA. People do not have the right to bear arms. I would not want to see a blanket ban, other than for air guns - but all such weapons should be kept in state-controlled places, and used only under trained supervision.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think there should be a TOTAL ban on gun ownership in this country with exceptions only to professionals e.g. Police Armed forces estate managers gun clubs (all weapons to remain at the club), Collectors (weapons barrells to be filled with metal,firing pins filed flat, triggers welded ).

    I know this will insense the Gun Loving fraternty who will no doubt espose thier usual plattitude of 'Its not GUNS that kill people its the person behind the gun' crap.

    Lets look at that. If I attempt to outrun a bullet my chances are very slim if however the person attempting to kill me only has the option of cutting slashing weapons then even if I cannot outrun him I stand a better chance of survival in the ensuing struggle.

    GUNS are a distance weapon they allow the indescriminate killing we saw yesterday that killing is IMPERSONAL, if the guns were NOT available we have a chance to disarm or at the very least run away. IT is the impersonallity the ability to kill without fear of the victim threatening you. How many would have been killed or injured yesterday if BIRD hand only a couple of kitchen knives or even a machette.

    To the pro gun lobby I say to you the avialabillty of guns KILLS people.
    Lets do away with the abhorrance that is GUNS..

  • Comment number 21.

    First, my sympathies to the families and friends of the victims of yesterday's tragic events.

    Quite understandably, we'll hear calls for gun control - just like we did after Hungerford and Dunblane.

    Gun licenses only need to be renewed every five years. Why not make this renewal annual, and tighten up the criteria under which licenses are granted or renewed.

    The one question that keeps popping into my mind is this: Why would anyone need to keep so much ammunition close to hand?

    We will probably never know the full story behind the events of 2nd June 2010. It was an horrific reaction to some event or chain of events.

    Sad, sad events......

  • Comment number 22.

    Clearly we should relax our gun laws. If more people had been armed that day, maybe someone could have stopped him...

    ...Nah, just kidding, I'm not mental. I think us having one of the lowest gun crime rates in the world shows how our tough laws are working very well, and the fact that it has been 16 years since the last comparable incident occured (whereas, in the same period, over sixty equivalent tragedies have occured in America. No law should be free from review, and finding out exactly what happened to cause this should be our top priority. That the gun was owned legally is our first port of call (why does a taxi driver need a shotgun? I mean, I know the 2am club-run on a Friday night can be daunting but I hardly think a shotgun can really be claimed as necessary like a farmer's can). If the law is changed so that owners must be able to demonstrate a genuine working need for a firearm rather than simply having to prove that they are not a danger to society then I'm all for it.

    Lessons must be learned, and law reviews may be necessary, but let us not get worked up into a frenzy like this is some kind of regular occurrence. Instead, let's give a grieving town the time and space it needs to recover.

  • Comment number 23.

    British guns laws are the tightest among the Western World. I don't think they need to be tightened any more as to do so would strat to damage sports shooting and potentially even start to slip into slashing civil liberties.
    What should be tightened up is the issuing of gun licences and the policing of those licences, howvere this won't stop criminal elements who are set bent to get hold of a gun getting one or devising a method of obtaining a fire arm.
    The old saying says 'The gun or bullet don't do the killing, it's the person aiming and pulling the trigger that does'.

  • Comment number 24.

    We don't need tougher gun laws at all - we already have some of the toughest in the world! When hand guns were banned, all we did was ensure that only criminals carried handguns - look at the number of shootings carried out with illegal weapons. At most what is perhaps needed is a review to ensure that the various checks are carried out properly, as they certainly are in most counties. As commentators on other sites have mentioned, the correct procedure requires interviews, home visits, a professional reference, almost no record of any (even minor) misdemeanours and your consent that the police access your medical records.
    No system is entirely foolproof, but let's not have any more knee-jerk amendments; we already lost the ability to field a decent shooting team in the Olympics while criminals still seem able to access illegal weapons relatively easily.

  • Comment number 25.

    A tragic event and waste of life. Condolences to all affected persons/family/friends and I condemn Mr Birds behaviour although I question his sanity in the period prior to his rampage.

    What are the current laws regarding checking someone who currently owns a rifle or shotgun is the 'full shilling' and not mentally unstable?

    If the existing laws are robust enough then the law doesn't & shouldn't need to be changed.

    Otherwise tighten these laws up.

    I suspect (like the CRB checks) that such stability checks are only 'good for the day they're issued' and someone can appear calm, normal etc and pass all the tests and tick all the boxes and yet the next day completely lose the plot and go berserk. Difficult to legislate against that sort of scenario.

    Anyone wishing an outright gun or shotgun ban should consider:

    Since the hand gun ban after the Dunblane tragedy how many people have been killed by illegally owned handguns?

    And has this number been a rise or fall?

    It is impractical to ban shotguns outright because farmers need them to protect their livestock or crops.

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm dubious that farmers and the landed gentry need quite so many guns. They shoot unarmed rabbits and birds with them. That's like an elephant squashing an ant. Arable farmers don't need them. Livestock is hardly threatened to the extent that needing a gun would suggest by ravening wolves or bears. And if a person decided to pinch a sheep, the farmer couldn't use their gun on them. So what's really the point of guns in the countryside at all?
    The only people who should have them are target shooters (where the guns are very well regulated) and the army.

  • Comment number 27.

    Listening to Radio 4 this lunchtime, I am infuriated by comments by David Holmes who appears to indicate that all 'loners' are potential spree killers. We're not all single because we are psychotic...some of us just prefer living on our own.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think so. Laws are quite restrictive already and the low number of shootings in the UK shows that they are already effective.

    When you compare the number of deaths from guns in the UK to those killed by cars, it's pretty clear which is the more dangerous. Yet every time lower speed limits (or enforcement of existing ones) is proposed, people complain about their freedom being eroded.

  • Comment number 29.

    You can't legislate against this kind of tragedy. Our gun controls are one of the best. I am very anti-gun, but these kinds of incidents are failures on our attitudes towards mental health. There is an unwillingness in this country to seek help for mental health issues and it is socially taboo to have such problems.

  • Comment number 30.

    What concerns me more than anything about this incident is that it was revealed that when something like this occurs, the Police who normally guard Sellafield are re-deployed to the incident leaving the nuclear plant less well defended. So now, if a terrorist group wants some nuclear material for a bomb, all they have to do is send someone to shoot at members of the public, which will make taking Sellafield that much easier! D'ho!

  • Comment number 31.

    Anyone can become a danger to the public at any time, we are only human.

    Owning a weapon is not the problem it is using it to kill someone that is.

    Fear of the consequence of commiting murder is the only method, it will not work always. It may have been different if he had to consider the circumstances before he started his rampage, and he may be sentanced to death if he continues, the end result was he took his own life, but this may be due to eventually realising what he had done.

    It's too easy for gangs to roam the streets brandishing arms because they can, shoot someone and they die it is murder and the death penalty should be carried out.

  • Comment number 32.

    Guns don't kill people, people kill people.

  • Comment number 33.

    I live in Whitehaven and have done so for the past 14 years, so speaking as some one who has been affected by this incident I feel it would be hasty to rush into rash decisions on gun law, by all accounts Derek Bird was a well liked, quiet person who no one had reason to believe would commit such a horrendous crime against his fellow west cumbrians, but this apparently unprovoked attack could have been committed by say a firearms officer of the police, a pest control officer or a member of the armed forces all people who have access to weapons on a daily basis. We'll never really know what happened to start this tragic chain of events but it it would seem it could happen to any one at any time. How can you police that?

  • Comment number 34.

    This man had a .22 rifle with a telescopic sight and a shotgun. The rifle must alreday have been illegal post Hungerford and I doubt he had a licence fir the shotgun either.

    So it isn't the law which is a fault but the plain fact that unless the Police can tround up all these firearms, then there is little point in having the law.

    Until anyone caught with a gun gets a minimum of 20 years to actually serve in prison, (never mind the pc brigade here!)we are not going to crack this problem, and we certainly are not going to crack it with a nutcase who then kills himself afterwards, because these types are beyond sanction.

  • Comment number 35.

    Once again the ‘weapon obsessed’ old women of England will be out demanding more controls and repression of evil ‘things’ they don’t understand.

    Of course banning ‘things’ is just a simple minded way of avoiding difficult questions. Like why ‘people’, possibly including your kids, commit evil acts … or what kind of messed up society drives an, otherwise apparently normal, working normal man to insanity and the kinds of acts we saw yesterday.

  • Comment number 36.

    Changing the gun laws is a waste of time and unnecessary. As sad as this incident is, there is no way of predicting a random act like this, and it could just as easily been done using a sword, knife or just driving his car down the pavement.
    No doubt it will bring the critics crawling out of the woodwork, and more taxpayers money wasted on stupid pointless committee's and of course the inevitable inquirery and paper of findings. For what? The gun laws are already too strict, and serve no purpose in reducing gun crime which is growing all the time with the use of illegal guns brought into the country from abroad.
    Someone is shot almost every week in the UK by an illegal gun, it is over 20 years since a similar incident to this took place. A bit of realistic common sense is needed here.

  • Comment number 37.

    "... according to Cumbria police, taxi driver Mr Bird held a firearms licence for 20 years..."

    Why? What on Earth does a taxi driver need a firearm for? Guns should only be permitted where there is a definite pragmatic need for them. Farmers, pest controllers, the police etc. There is no reason why any member of the public needs to have a gun unless it's for a specific purpose. 'Because I like shooting at stuff' is not a valid reason! Even if it's on private land, or in a shooting range, there is no need for anyone to have a gun.

  • Comment number 38.

    Why not have even tougher laws?

    The laws on gun ownership were tightened after the last mass killings. They were effective.

    "In the United States, you can declare that it is your constitutional right to bear arms." And they, of course, don't have problems with guns do they?

  • Comment number 39.

    No, I don't care if a few old blokes like to shoot holes in targets in their spare time, people's lives have been lost due to guns being too easily available. Ban them all - now!

  • Comment number 40.

    Ban all guns, that is the only non-hypocritical action, given the unanimous cross party reaction to the Mephedrone non-deaths.

    A speedy an ill-thought out piece of legislation is all we can hope for.

  • Comment number 41.

    The gun laws are too tough and have done nothing to stop the escalation of gun crime over the last 13 years.

    One of the first things that the previous labour administration did was to make the Olympic sport of pistol shooting illegal in this country. A special exemption will have to be made to host the Olympic games in 2012. Let us make the exemption permanent and once again allow our sportsmen the right to practise modern pentathlon and pistol shooting in this country.

  • Comment number 42.

    Condolences to all those affected families in Whitehaven and surrounding areas.

    Most of the population in the UK are at more risk from illegally imported and unregistered firearms used by drug or other criminal gangs - not from those with a gun license?

    In fact - our country as a whole - is at more risk from deep set and unchallenged criminal gangs hiding behind various 'respectable fronts' dealing in drugs; adult/child human trafficing; illegal gun imports etc., that our police are not enabled to destroy and brought to book?

    It would be amazing if our PM David Cameron allowed the police and other agencies to destroy all these criminal groups plus destroy their ability to run their criminal 'empires' from prison?

  • Comment number 43.

    Ban ALL privately owned GUNS now.

    Have an Amnesty for the handing in of the Guns with compensation to legitimate current owners.

    Then introduce a new law that makes the personal possesion of any firearm an automatic 25yrs inside with no extenuating circumstaces.

    Remember GUNS KILL PEOPLE IMPERSONALLY you cannot outrun a bullet.

  • Comment number 44.

    Our gun laws are already tough, although, for any friend or relative of those who died yesterday I suppose nothing short of a total ban makes sense. However, a total ban in the holding of guns will not stop gun death. There will always be an element in our society that will kill whether it be with a legal or illegal gun, or any other weapon for that matter. No amount of legislation can stop a madman.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    > Could tighter gun laws have stopped the Cumbria shootings?

    Tighter as in "No-one can own a gun"? Perhaps, though there's always the possibility that a suitably determined killer could obtain a gun illegally, and besides - no law is tough enough to prevent all shootings.

    > Do too many people hold gun licenses?

    I don't know. Perhaps the BBC could tell us:

    How many people hold gun licenses?
    What is this as a proportion of the population?
    Of those people who hold licenses how many have committed violent offences using the guns they own licenses for?
    How many people who commit violent crimes involving a firearm have a license for that firearm?

    Maybe then our answers might be based on something other than hot air?

    > What needs to happen now?

    Everyone hold onto your knees to stop them jerking your leg off?

  • Comment number 47.

    I don't own a gun and have little desire to own one but I believe are gun laws are tough enough. Someone with the desire to kill will do so by one means or other and illegal guns are probably easy to get hold of if you have the desire and motivation to find one. I doubt if tougher gun laws would have stopped yesterday's tragedy.

  • Comment number 48.

    There are hundreds of shootings just in London every year and I would guess, few of these involve legally held guns. So what difference would a change in the law make?

  • Comment number 49.

    I'm afraid the restrictions don't go far enough. the manditary sentance If anyone is found with an unauthorised fire arm should be ten years jail without parole or letting out early for being a good prisoner.this should also be given to anyone who steals motor cars and kills aomeone. This would make them think twice about doing these things. A punisment to fit the crime should be applied.

  • Comment number 50.

    Coming from Whitehaven, although no longer living there, may I first express my deepest sympathy for those directly affected and for evyone in the area.

    It isn't something West Cumbria expects to happen. It should't be something that happens anywhere.

    I am in favour of as much legislation as possible to reduce the use of guns. It looks as though this needs to be extended further. Perhaps those with a love for shooting should not be allowed to keep the weapons at home, they should be secured in the clubs they attend.

    Whatever you do to legislate, however, will not stop someone intent on killing, but it may reduce the number of people they are able to harm.

  • Comment number 51.

    We already have the 2nd toughest gun laws in the world, only topped by Japan.
    This case is not about guns at all, it's about one man pushed over the edge.

  • Comment number 52.

    The gun laws in this country are particularly tight. So no need to change them. This incident is terrible, but no legislation could ever prevent this.
    There was a ban on handguns in this country...........that really didn't make any difference, as there are many out there also being used daily in criminal activilty.
    Psychological testing work work either - unless the person who committed this latest atrocity presented as well baanced to all.
    It is such a dreadful time for the families of those who have been killed or injured but let us give the Police time to do their job of work
    before jumping to any conclusions/solutions

  • Comment number 53.

    Of course the gun laws aren't strict enough, the government states that we have one of the toughest gun laws in the world, rubbish. If we had this tough law, we wouldn't see guns (and knives, machete's etc) displayed in shops around the country, where I live there is a shop in the high street that has guns, rifles, knives and other weapons in it's windows.

    The law should stop RETAILERS selling this type of thing over the counter, licence or no licence, including air guns and air rifles, even display weapons can be adapted and become lethal.

    And as for gun licences, if a person really does have to own a gun, there should be a limit to one gun per person. Guns should also be bought from one place and one place only and the gun should not be sold until the would be owner is thoroughly checked out, name and address verification, including checking the gun register to make sure that person hasn't already got one.

    We are not the United States, we are not a revolutionary country, we don't need guns. The only ones who need weapons are our armed forces.

  • Comment number 54.

    Yes they are tough enough, so no knee jerk reactions just so you can look like you are "on top" of things like the last PM did.

  • Comment number 55.

    Is someone wants to set out to kill a load of people there are always going to be ways and means to do so - regardless of the gun laws.

    We're always being told about terrorists learning how to make bombs from websites - presumably this information isn't exclusively on offer to terrorists alone.

    And thats without considering the illegal arms market, i've no idea how to get hold of a gun, but judjing from the tiny IQs of some that do, it can't be that hard.

    These incidents happen rarely and our present gun laws are fine.

  • Comment number 56.

    British gun laws are tight, very tight. If it were not a gun then it may have been a knife, an axe or something equally as evil. Be it a gun, a knife, what ever is chosen, when one losses it big time then there is very little everyone else can do, but talk about it later and condemn what is not known - who really knows why, what drove the killings, we can but guess and that is really not good enough. Each of us is different, each has their own breaking point. His car could have been used, as it is equally as deadly. would we then ban cars?

  • Comment number 57.

    The old American gun law debate: 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people' they so often say. What they neglect to mention is how easy guns make it to kill other people.

    The man snapped and decided to kill people, if he didn't have access to guns he wouldn't have had anywhere near the ability to do the damage he had done. Plus without the weapons he may not have had the courage to actually commit the deed. So the question is should he have had access to guns?

    From the looks of things and up to the last day there were no signs that he was going to snap like he did and go off killing people. According to the BBC article here he was seen as a friendly, normal person. The only way then to prevent him or a person like him from having access to these weapons would be to ban absolutely everyone in the country from having a gun, just in case.

    How far do you go with that? There are tens of thousands of gun owners in the UK that use shotguns and the likes for reasonable, legal reasons and have never or will never use them against a fellow man. Likewise there are lots of people out there that could do serious damage or cause deaths to dozens of people with ease in other ways. Should we ban London Bus drivers because one day they might decide to drive a full load of passengers and themselves off a bridge 'just in case'?

    This has been a tragic event but it doesn't appear that our gun laws need to be changed and they are tough enough. Everything appears to have been done correctly and even in hindsight it doesn't like anyone could have predicted this man doing the things he did.

    Our gun laws are good enough. For the most part these weapons appear to be in the hands of people that can be trusted to use them. Making them even tougher would be difficult and an outright ban would be unworkable.

    I think we can still be proud as a nation that events like this this are so rare and that gun violence or shooting deaths are so low. This very debate and the coverage this story has had on the news show that we are still shocked by such things while other nations around the world would see this a fairly common event and a simple fact of life.

  • Comment number 58.

    The current position is that a person can only own a shotgun or a rifle on a Firearm Certificate(FAC). To get one they have to prove a good reason and provide medical references and undergo a criminal record check, they also have to keep these firearms in a secure manner i.e. a gun safe and an ammunition safe approved by the Police.
    You could tighten the regulations concerning shotguns, at present you can own any number of shotguns on one shotgun certificate, you could make it the same as for rifles, each one has to included on your FAC and the police notified if you buy or sell a firearm.
    Pistols, semi-automatic and automatic firearms cannot legally be owned unless you have a Section 5 licence and that means gun dealers, and film property companies, the general public cannot legally own such weapons. There are exemptions for certain categories of black power firearms used by historical re-enactment societies.
    None of the above measures can protect from an aberrant act like yesterday.
    No doubt there will be calls for a blanket ban, by groups like the Gun Control Network, but the last Violent Crime Reduction Act which went through Parliament, conducted a thorough review of the firearm issue.
    We have one of the strictest Gun Control regimes anywhere in the world.

  • Comment number 59.

    i see no reason for members of the public to have Guns in their possesion. how many inoccent people have to die before the british people decide that Human life is more important than a few peoples right to possess leathal weapons that is there sole purpose to kill. for the people who insist that guns are needed for pest control. why is it that people call a profesionally qualified person to fix repair things eg tv plumbing elictrical goods ect yet any member of public can apply to own and use Guns and if they meet the appropriate criteria at that specific time it allows them to have guns for as long as they live without any further check as to their suitability questions are only asked when a disater like this happens. No member of the public needs to have unsupervised access to Guns. for people who like to shoot at skeets ect they should acces clubs where the guns are stored and signed in and out and used under supervised condditions.

  • Comment number 60.

    Laws surrounding purchasing a firearm really does need to be reviewed and increased. I work as a Secondary school teacher in South London and we have to have a CRB check done on us annually if we wish to continue working with children.
    If a police check is not done on a person purchasing a firearm, then it should.
    Also, looking over the past 10-20yrs, around the world people of a mental disorder have been able to purchase firearms and then gone on a shooting sprees, like what happened in Cumbria yesterday. I feel strongly that anyone wishing to purchase a firearms should have a mental health check done on them, to see whether they are fit enough to purchase a firearm in the first place.
    These are merely solutions which have come to me, but it could protect those in society better and maybe help ensure that what happened in Cumbria yesterday, would not happen again, and make something good come from the evil that occured yesterday.
    I will keep the people who lost their lives yesterday and those whom they loved that are left behind in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Comment number 61.

    He could have instead gone on a rampage hitting people while driving his car, or something similar, and had the same effect. So I don't think we need to change gun laws - but it certainly sounds like he needed some support from somebody.

  • Comment number 62.

    A licence to own a firearm should be issued based on need, not on entitlement. And no one needs to own a firearm.

    As a means of pest control a shotgun is very inefficient, time-consuming and expensive. Shooting is about a country lifestyle, not about practicality.

    I can think of no circumstances where a private citizen could justify owning a lethal weapon.

  • Comment number 63.

    This extremely sad event is very rare in England and, on this one issue, i feel it would be an over-reaction to talk about gun laws. However the slightly more common event of hand-gun shootings in English Cities, London, Manchester, and Birmingham etc, does highlight the need to tighten what type of guns are licenced and also what type of de-activated guns are allowed in the country.

  • Comment number 64.

    Perhaps the BBC can "back off" on a debate like this until the formalities of the investigation and mourning are gracefully completed. We really don't want the BBC to be acting like a tabloid newspaper do we!

  • Comment number 65.

    The gun laws in this country are already tough enough and are rigorously enforced. People wishing to own a fire arm are subject to police interviews, regular inspections and a full background check.

    Unfortunately tragedies like this do occur, but a blanket ban on gun ownership is not the answer. Shotguns and rifles are part and parcel of countryside life and are needed to cull rodents, foxes, deer etc. A knee jerk reaction will not offer any greater level of public safety than we currently have as by definition criminals flout laws.

    The July 7th bombers used household products to make their explosives. Should we also ban hair dye and bleach?

    Unfortunately the world is a dangerous place and there are some wicked people in it. We can't legislate this out of existence.

  • Comment number 66.

    Introducing new laws as a knee-jerk reaction to a case like this would be utterly stupid.

    In fact, even asking the question, at this stage, is utterly predictable, but a bit daft.

    You may as well ban cars - remember the Dutch man who killed all those people in Apeldoorn last year? Or hands - it's perfectly possible to kill with bare hands. Or matches, come to think of it...

  • Comment number 67.

    we already have some of the toughest gun laws in Europe if not the world, changing them in reaction to one off events just makes for bad law.

    in the ryan case semi automatic full calibre rifles were used we outlawed legal ownership of those

    in the hamilton case pistols were used so we outlawed those.

    In this case the man in question used a shotgun and small calibre rifle as the most effective tools still available to him.

    Outlaw those too and the next time we have a homicidal maniac set on leaving himself no way out but suicide, then no doubt he'll use the next best tool still available for the task.

    If that turns out to be running a dozen folks down with a car then I doubt we'll see a similar clamour for private ownership of vehicles to be banned.

  • Comment number 68.

    I think gun laws are probably tough enough. There will always be abherations. If someone goes off the deep end, then they could even use a car as a deadly weapon, so do we ban those as well?

  • Comment number 69.

    I have a lot of sympathy with those affected in Cumbria. Quite what happened is presently unknown. However the last thing we should do is indulge in another knee jerk reaction. The progressive tightening of laws regarding weapons seems to be backfiring. More guns and knives are now being used than ever before so what is the good of laws we cannot enforce?

  • Comment number 70.

    IF this guy had gone on a rampage running people over in his car rather than used a gun would we now be debateing whether we should ban cars?

    No, so why are we having this conversation?

  • Comment number 71.

    Yes they are. The gun laws were reformed in the wake of the Hungerford and Dunblane massacre to exclude ownerships of semi-automatic and, easily concealed, handguns. More people are killed by knives, and the Police Federation stated that knives were a bigger threat than guns during the debate on equipping them with body armour in the early 1990's.

    Here in Scotland the SNP government refuse to introduce harsher sentences for knife carriers (within their current remit) but will easily distract us with disproportionate debate on banning air rifles. Air rifles are reserved to Westminster; the SNP want to transfer more power to Holyrood piece-by-piece, as this is their sole objective rather than legislating within their remit for the good of the Scottish People.

  • Comment number 72.

    Shooting is not a sport. Owning a gun is nobody's right or herritage. There can be no justification for owning a gun for any purpose except essential work (farmers for example). Taxi drivers, teachers, doctors, lawers, postmen, and so on do not need to own guns. All guns should be banned to the public for obvious reasons. Rare as these events are, they have all been comitted by so called legal guns at the time. Ban shotguns now.And let's hear no nonsense from the gun enthusiasts. You should have no right to use them, end of story.

  • Comment number 73.

    This is a tragic event and my condolences go out to the victims' families and friends. However, thankfully it is a rare event and one that no amount of legislation could have prevented. No-one knows what was going through Derrick's mind at the time, so it's impossible to foresee the event. I believe the gun laws have been tightened since Dunblane and Hungerford, and I really can't see what more can be done. True, there is an argument for not allowing gun club members to take their guns away from the premises, but would it really have stopped this? I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to smuggle them out, if necessary killing any security personnel employed in the club to so.

  • Comment number 74.

    It was not the gun it was the person. No matter how tight you make the law it will always comeback to this point.
    You cannot tell if somebody will go on the rampage, however there are certain types who are automatically banned from holding them and using them.
    However there is no justification in punishing the innocent for the crimes of one man.
    Leave the law alone. Knee jerk law is always bad law.

  • Comment number 75.

    8. At 1:14pm on 03 Jun 2010, Bradford wrote:
    Are we allowed to ask what the Police were doing to distract or apprehend the gunman during the 4 hour rampage.

    It seems that the police were not the protectors of the public but the protectors of themselves. No doubt another case of the police avoiding dangerous situations.


    Unles youv'e got access to information that the rest of us haven't concerning yesterday's events thats a pretty judgemental point of view.

    Until we get more information we don't know whether the police reaction was appropriate or not.

  • Comment number 76.

    We have some of the tightest Gun Laws in the World. You cannot possibly legislate for a person who becomes deranged and decides to go upon a killing rampage. Tragically people have been killed by Knives, Machetes, Axes, Cars, and Hammers etc. I clearly remember an MP severely injured and an Advisor killed in the last 10 years with a Samurai sword.
    In the UK There are two sorts of Person who possesses firearms. The Criminal with his Mach 10 or Uzi, or sawn down shotgun or Eastern European semi Automatic pistol, or reactivated Air pistol. Then there is the Shooting enthusiast with his Shotgun Certificate and Section 1 Firearms certificate. Shotguns are relatively easy to legitimately obtain, provided you are of good character, and provide safe storage. Section 1 weapons are far more difficult to obtain since dunblane; these are normally Rifles, Carbines, or Long Barrelled revolvers. The candidate has to be a member of a club, be on probation as a member, and have a good medical history and stability. The Police do not have to grant a Section 1 Certificate. Once a firearms certificate has been obtained the applicant can own a number of weapons and a certain quantity of ammunition. It is quite common for Shooters to have 10 or so Rifles, Carbines, Long Barrelled revolvers in all calibres. The Rifles are military specification 0.303 or 7.62 0.22, The Carbines are Pistol calibre weapons normally using 9mm, 0.38, 0.357 0.38 0.44. The Long pistols use the same Ammunition as the carbines. The need for this wide range of armament is in order to compete in the many different National Rifle association events at Bisley, and similar Shooting grounds. In addition Shooters tend to remanufacture their own ammunition, and have the capability to make large amounts of Bullets.
    The Government needs to let the dust settle, then to carryout an enquiry by a Senior Law officer. Knee jerk reactions are not needed. It may be the case that Annual Psychological testing would be required; this would have to be met by the shooters. Either directly or Putting firearms Licences and certificate up to say the amount that an examination from a Consultant Psychiatrist would cost plus administration Fees. So possibly £800 to £1000 per year, Per Gun, plus insurance of say £500 per year. I don’t think that any genuine sports shooter would object to contributing to protect his hobby. Therefore this small amount could be easily funded by shooters to maintain their possession of weapons and in order to protect the community, and to eliminate any Taxpayer contribution.

  • Comment number 77.

    The gun laws in this country are incredibly strict. Gun crimes are rare in this country. That's why a story like this is such big news. If we were in the USA, a story like this would probably only make the local news unless somebody famous were involved.

  • Comment number 78.

    I'm sure there will be a huge debate about firearms again.

    The majority of crime is as a result of illegal firearms which are readily available and criminals have no probems importing them. Our strict gun laws are helpless in this case.

    Legally held weapons are always at risk of misuse if someone has 'psycological problems'. Yes, you could ban all but landowners from owning them but would this solve the problem. If you are hell bent on harming people you can do awful things with a knife, at the wheel of a car - or with a box of matches and a can of petrol.

    As tragic as these circumstances are, more people die because dangerous and drunk driving. Just whatch the fly on the wall police documentaries showing how people act with complete disregard for the safety of the public and yet little enough is done to stop this sort of behaviour. I feel far more at risk from mad drivers when driving to work than I do from madmen and their legally owned firearms when walking down the high street. This is not to say that we should not have some regular checks on gun owners.

    Shooting is a legitimate sport; it also helps support the rural econony. Banning sporting guns would not be beneficial and people will still be killed and injured by guns. A fact of life sadly.

  • Comment number 79.

    antonyp is confusing the regulations concerning air rifles and pistols with those covering rifles. It is legal to own a .22 rimfire bolt action or semi-automatic rifle on a Section 1 FAC. A lot of country dwellers and Cumbria is a overwhelmingly rural county own .22 rifles to shoot rabbits and other small game. So he did not own an illegal firearm, let's try and stick with the facts before rushing to judgement.

  • Comment number 80.

    As someone that was in lived in Hungerford at the time I know what the people of Whitehaven are going through and my thoughts are with them.

    At the same time I hold a Shotgun licence and Firearms certificate and I am involved in the shooting industry. Any further clamping down of the gun laws in the country would have a negative effort on people that rely on them for their livelihood.

    Just to clear up what is being said on the news a .22 rifle is not a sniper rifle and does not even come close. It is a rifle designed to deal with small vermin such as rabbits/rats. I expect most of the damage was done with the shotgun. There are 575,000 shotgun holders in this country. These events are very tragic when they happen but they happen so rarely when you consider the amount of people that hold these weapons, I strongly believe there is no further need for a increase in legislation.

  • Comment number 81.

    I'm waiting to hear someone on HYS say that there is no reason for anyone to own a gun. I'm surprised that by comment 32 its still looking good. Common sense prevails - so far!

  • Comment number 82.

    31. At 1:35pm on 03 Jun 2010, chrisk50 wrote:
    Anyone can become a danger to the public at any time, we are only human.

    Owning a weapon is not the problem it is using it to kill someone that is.
    So what you're saying is, guns don't kill people, rappers do ?

  • Comment number 83.

    26. Fickle Finger wrote: "I'm dubious that farmers and the landed gentry need quite so many guns. They shoot unarmed rabbits and birds with them. That's like an elephant squashing an ant. Arable farmers don't need them. Livestock is hardly threatened to the extent that needing a gun would suggest by ravening wolves or bears. And if a person decided to pinch a sheep, the farmer couldn't use their gun on them. So what's really the point of guns in the countryside at all? The only people who should have them are target shooters (where the guns are very well regulated) and the army."

    Rabbits, left uncontrolled, rabbits can eat a lot of a farmers crop and its not legal to hunt rabbits with dogs any more.

    So what do you propose? Does the Chicken farmer perhaps ask the fox nicely to leave his chickens alone and the rabbit to leave his vegetables alone. Perhaps he could ask the rabit and the deer to 'top themselves' so that we can enjoy a nice game stew. Maybe call in Wallace and Grommit?

    I'm guessing you are a townie - but have you ever visited the countryside or spent time on a farm?

  • Comment number 84.

    To be honest while I'm completely happy with our present'proper' gun laws I would lke to see a much more draconian stance taken on on air-rifles & pistols.

    Crimes with those weapons, particularly those perpetrated against animals are showing a year on tear increase and its obvious that many of these weapons are in the wrong hands.

  • Comment number 85.

    Of course they are not - that's why gun related crimes have increased- especially in our no-go inner city areas.

    There should be a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, with no appeal, to anybody caught unlawfully carrying a gun.

  • Comment number 86.

    Our tough gun laws mean thankfully this sort of terrible event is very rare. I think we should reflect carefully on this and remember that on average nearly 100 people a DAY are killed by guns in the USA thanks to their stupid gun laws.
    As a general principle I think the less guns in circulation the better, although I do recognise those in the rural community have a legitimate need to use a gun, although I would think in most cases they would only need a shotgun. I think access to rifles should be reviewed and possibly stronger controls and enforcement brought in.

  • Comment number 87.

    This has nothing to do with guns. He might have had a small Nuclear bomb.

  • Comment number 88.

    This is a truly terrible event, but it would not be the right response to make rushed changes in the law as a knee-jerk reaction.

    If any changes are needed, they need to be carefully considered.

  • Comment number 89.

    #37. LippyLippo wrote: "Why? What on Earth does a taxi driver need a firearm for? Guns should only be permitted where there is a definite pragmatic need for them. Farmers, pest controllers, the police etc. There is no reason why any member of the public needs to have a gun unless it's for a specific purpose."

    Oh dear, up to comment 35 it wasn't looking too bad.

    What on Earth does a taxi driver need a firearm for? let me spell it out - its a legitimate S P O R T.

    The "what an earth does..." argument is just plain stupid.

    You can boil anything down to this question and there is no rational answer that carrys any weight. Alchohol kills millions - why on earth does a human being want to drink?? Why would someone want to smoke - it kills. Why on earth would someone want to own an MP3 player which can harm their hearing. Why do grown men swing dangerous metal clubs to hit a ball great distances. BECAUSE IT BRINGS PLEASURE AND ENJOYMENT. Shooting is also means to earn a living, it is the centre of nmany people's social lives and it helps preserve our countryside.

  • Comment number 90.

    i can accept that many people ask for stricter gun laws,it may solve some incidents, but more to the point is the amount of illegal guns on our streets,what can ANY law do about them?my condolences go to all affected by this tragedy,i do not know the answer to it all ,who does???

  • Comment number 91.

    A fully loaded, cocked gun isn't really a danger to anyone unless a nutter gets hold of it & starts shooting random people.

    Licence or not, if someone is determined to go postal then there is very little to stop them doing so.

  • Comment number 92.

    26. At 1:26pm on 03 Jun 2010, The Fickle Finger wrote:

    "I'm dubious that farmers and the landed gentry need quite so many guns. They shoot unarmed rabbits and birds with them. That's like an elephant squashing an ant. Arable farmers don't need them."

    I assume you gained this knowledge and understanding from your years as a farmer?

  • Comment number 93.

    No - Unless guns are banned altogether.

    As #65 pointed out - you can use a lot of things to kill people. You can't ban everything.

    I know a few people that have guns for work or sport (it's an Olympic sport you know) - they are safer than many people, as they are responible people and have passed the strictest tests. (Note that people kill, not guns).

    Stuff happens - 3 incidents in my lifetime (40 years).

    Let's not overreact like we usually do.

  • Comment number 94.

    Our gun laws are already very tough, not connected with this case but there is, unfortunately, a need for tougher rules with regard to air guns.
    When all the details are known and the inquests held, consideration should be given to whether tightening the rules in any way might have saved, some or all of the lives lost.

  • Comment number 95.

    32. At 1:35pm on 03 Jun 2010, wanna_be_free wrote:
    Guns don't kill people, people kill people.


    And guns help people to kill multiple other people
    at a nice safe distance and at a rapid speed....

    I'm against further gun control but these worn out platitudes about how a
    gun is no more menacing than a knife beggar belief.

  • Comment number 96.

    It's obviously the recent incident what has brought this question up so the response must bare that in mind.

    It's not gun law thats the problem, you ban guns they will still be around you can bet, may be a tougher examination of the indivual that involves delving into the family's history before a license is granted.

    Guns or no guns, when people are stressed they do unusual things and usually do it without thought as their minds are blank to 'normality'
    but full to the brim for revenge and anything that goes with it to release the tension and anger.... and it needen't have been a gun.

  • Comment number 97.

    39. At 1:38pm on 03 Jun 2010, john3626 wrote:
    No, I don't care if a few old blokes like to shoot holes in targets in their spare time, people's lives have been lost due to guns being too easily available. Ban them all - now!


    I know someone that hanged themselves - lets ban rope!!!

  • Comment number 98.

    The police are "supposed" to be able to deploy a rapid response team. Where were they?? They had enough clues to be able to catch up with and aprehend the gunman so why didn't they get their bums into gear and move faster? Well I suppose this is sleepy hollow part of England and they reacted accordingly.

  • Comment number 99.

    62. At 2:00pm on 03 Jun 2010, RadialSymmetry wrote:

    "I can think of no circumstances where a private citizen could justify owning a lethal weapon."

    I have a car for recreational use.

  • Comment number 100.

    No matter how tight the gun laws are, those, including criminals, who want to take hold of guns will do so by various means. And if there were no guns, they could use knives, clubs and other things to attack others and to kill. At the same time anyone must have a right for self-defense against any physical attack, or against robbery and, therefore, must have a right to possess guns. There are many cases when such arms are indispensable; private detectives, and security personel need them very much. Others like to use them for entertainment. Of course, the shootings could have stopped by providing strict control over arms, but this could increase the level of street violence. All this has very much to do with the relationship between an individual and the society in which he has to live and to which he has to adapt himself. Some people tend to blame for all their problems not themselves, but other people and search for an opportunity to take revenge on them. The best way to prevent the tragedies like the Cumbrian shootings is to help such unhappy undividuals to adapt themselves to the world and to help them to restore their good relationships with others. This is not about money, or food, but about personal psyche that much be kept within the limits of its inner balance. Sometimes even a kindly and open-hearted smile or a friedly word can do a great lot.


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