ANTI-GUN campaigner Bobby Turnbull and a crime chief have joined forces to speak out after Prime Minister David Cameron turned down calls to raise weapon licence fees.
Mr Cameron last week vetoed a proposal to raise the cost of a gun licence from £50 to £88.
Administering and issuing each document costs an average of £196, costing police forces £17million to subsidise.
Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg has hit out on the decision, as has Mr Turnbull, who lost his aunt Susan McGoldrick, 47, his mum and Susan’s sister Alison Turnbull, 44, and his own sister Tanya Turnbull, 24, in Horden on New Year’s Day, 2012.
They were shot by Susan’s partner, taxi driver Michael Atherton, 42, who then turned the gun on himself.
On Monday, a 56-year-old man was taken with multiple gunshot injuries to the groin after he was attacked outside a house in Brackendale Court, Wingate.
He was taken to hospital, where he remained yesterday as he was treated for his wounds.
Two men, aged 24 and 27, were arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and have been bailed pending further inquiries.
Mr Hogg said: “Police forces across the country have faced cuts that are too deep and too fast. “While we are taking the tough decisions about how to allocate our increasingly limited budget, it defies logic that the police are still forced to subsidise gun licences.
“And Monday’s events in Wingate are a chilling reminder of the potential dangers of firearms.
“I am dismayed that even a proposal that would still keep the police footing over 50 per of the bill has been blocked by the Prime Minister’s office.
“It is just common sense to have a licence system in place that recoups the costs of administration.
“I understand that many gun owners in County Durham and Darlington need their firearms as tools.
“However, £196 for a five-year licence would still be a modest fee, and would lift the burden on our already strained police service.”
Mr Turnbull, who has been campaigning for tougher gun controls since his family faced tragedy following Atherton’s attack, said: “I’m appalled to hear that the proposal to increase the fee for gun licences has been blocked.
“I have been promised by two different ministers that we would be moving to full cost recovery sooner rather than later.
“This decision makes me more determined to continue campaigning for increased licence fees.”