A home Office Minister has pledged to support a grieving relative from the North East in his fight to change Britain’s gun licensing laws.
Bobby Turnbull, who lost his mother Alison, 44, sister Tanya, 24, and aunt Susan McGoldrick, 47, in the Horden New Year’s Day shootings, travelled to London yesterday to discuss his campaign.
Following the shootings he launched a petition which calls for better co-operation between police and health professionals, and asks for individuals with a criminal past, history of mental instability or domestic violence to be identified when they are applying for a gun licence.
The 24-year-old has won the first important part of his battle to toughen gun laws.
The Home Office announced that new guidance will ensure that a history of domestic violence will be taken into account when considering a licence application. Horden triple killer Michael Atherton legally kept guns despite a past which included domestic violence issues.
Now Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice Damian Green has agreed to pay close attention to issues around domestic violence and is considering proposals to increase firearms fees.
Mr Green said: “Bobby Turnbull has run a dignified campaign to strengthen the firearms licensing process. I was pleased to meet him and update him on progress made so far on improvements to Home Office guidance.
“We are paying particularly close attention to ensuring intelligence about domestic violence is fully taken into account when police consider firearms licence applications. We are also considering proposals to increase firearms fees.
“The process to revise the guidance is well under way and should be complete by the end of the year.”
Speaking from the Houses of Parliament greenkeeper Bobby, of Blackhall in County Durham, said: “I was pleased with how the meeting went. There are going to be some major changes made and there seems to be a lot going on behind the scenes.
“I would just like to see the changes put in place sooner rather than later.
“I know the Home Office guidelines are changing but I still feel there needs to be some sort of legislation put in place or the guidelines need to be made mandatory.”
Gunman Michael Atherton launched his New Year’s Day killing spree after Susan – his partner for 18 years – went out in Peterlee.
Susan’s daughter Laura, 19, suffered minor injuries and escaped through a window. Other people in the house at the time survived, including Atherton’s son Michael, 17.
At the inquest into the deaths, coroner Andrew Tweddle called for more “robust, clear and accountable procedures” to be put in place with regards to gun laws.
Bobby’s petition calling for tighter gun laws has attracted more than 15,000 signatures since it was started last year.
To sign the petition go online at www.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41060