‘It’s a joke’ – son of shooting victim blasts Government over gun law u-turn

Bobby Turnbull
Bobby Turnbull
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A CAMPAIGNER whose mother, sister and aunt were killed in a shooting spree has criticised ministers for rejecting calls to ban people with violent pasts owning guns.

Bobby Turnbull, whose family members were shot dead by Michael Atherton, was disappointed after Policing Minister Damian Green said the Government would instead issue “tough new guidelines” to police forces on how they should license firearms.

Atherton killed his partner Susan McGoldrick, her sister Alison Turnbull and her daughter Tanya at his home in Horden, on New Year’s Day 2012 after a row. Afterwards, he killed himself.

Today, Mr Turnbull accused the government of “pussy-footing around” the issue.

Atherton legally owned shotguns and firearms, despite a history of violence, which was known to Durham Police. The killings resulted in a critical report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into how the force handled the 44-year-old’s licence application.

Mr Green rejected Labour calls for fresh legislation, telling MPs the government would instead issue tougher guidelines on how firearms are licensed.

Mr Turnbull said: “Damian Green and the Home Office are pussy-footing around the subject because they do not want to upset Tory voters.

“It’s a joke that they are sticking by changing the guidelines rather than changing the law. How long before the police are making sloppy decisions and they are again giving guns to pieces of dirt like Michael Atherton?”

Labour had called on the government to back its amendment to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill which would change the law so that those who had a history of domestic violence could not own a gun. The bill is at committee stage in the House of Commons.

Mr Turnbull vowed to carry on fighting.

“I know for a fact I will get the law changed, it will just take a bit longer,” he said.