Gun control campaigner’s anger over future of hotline five years after triple shooting

Bobby Turnbull.
Bobby Turnbull.
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A campaigner has hit out over the future of a potentially lifesaving hotline to warn of the danger posed by gun owners - five years on from the horrific Horden shootings which claimed the lives of three women.

Taxi driver Michael Atherton killed his partner Susan McGoldrick, 47, Alison Turnbull, 44, and Tanya Turnbull, 24, before turning the gun on himself on New Year’s Day in 2012.

Susan McGoldrick, left, and her sister, Alison Turnbull.

Susan McGoldrick, left, and her sister, Alison Turnbull.

Ever since the tragedy Bobby Turnbull, the son of Alison Turnbull and brother of Tanya, has campaigned for more rigorous checks before gun licences are granted.

As part of his campaign Bobby, 28, from Dene View, High Heselden, pushed for a dedicated hotline to provide a means for the public to register their concerns about the behaviour of a gun owner, whether legal or illegal.

But now he has been dealt the news that after being operated briefly last year, the line will not be relaunched following a meeting between the Gun Control Network (GCN) and Brandon Lewis, Minister for Policing.

Mr Turnbull, a cable joiner, said: “This gun line would have been something I know my mam would have definitely used to raise concerns about Atherton who went on to murder three of my family members.

Tanya Turnbull, Bobby's sister.

Tanya Turnbull, Bobby's sister.

“The GCN attended a meeting with Brandon Lewis MP to speak about a number of things and the gun line was one of the things on the agenda.

“To hear this news is a huge disappointment to me and my family, but it only makes me more determined as a campaigner.”
Bobby has written to Mr Lewis asking for a meeting to review the decision early next year.

He added: “This kind of news makes us more determined to see this hotline put in place as we believe it might have saved the lives of my mother, my sister and my aunt. 
“We feel angry and let down as it would help a lot of people, but we will carry on campaigning and do whatever it takes.”

The Gun Control Network said that in 2014 the police and Crimestoppers agreed the gun hotline should be established.

It was initially launched in December 2015, but withdrawn in January this year after concerns were raised by senior cabinet members who felt that the phone line would ‘criminalise’ law abiding gun owners.

Since then there has been no progress with the reinstatement of the hotline and GCN now understands that the Government has no intention of funding it.

Gill Marshall Andres, from the GCN, said: “We will continue to work with Bobby to get this put up. I think it is important and it will make a difference.”

A spokeswoman from the Home Office said: “The firearms safety line has always been a police-led initiative. The public should be in no doubt that they can report non-urgent concerns about firearms via the 101 service or the Crimestoppers helpline and, if it is necessary, by dialling 999.”