New Year shootings: MP praises grieving son’s gun law campaign two years on

Pride of Wearside 2013 - Local Hero/Role Model award winner Bobby Turnbull.
Pride of Wearside 2013 - Local Hero/Role Model award winner Bobby Turnbull.
Have your say

AN MP says there has been some excellent progress made in a campaign to change the law after the Horden shotgun massacre.

New Year’s Day in 2012 saw three members of the same family killed by taxi driver Michael Atherton, who then turned a gun on himself.

Since then Bobby Turnbull, of Blackhall, has campaigned to get the law on gun licensing changed.

In November, he was given the Role Model award at the Sunderland Echo’s Pride of Wearside awards.

An inquest into the deaths of Bobby’s mum Alison Turnbull, 44, sister Tanya, 24, and aunt Susan McGoldrick, 47, heard Atherton had a history of domestic violence, but was still allowed a licence to hold guns.

Mr Turnbull has met Damian Green, Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper during several trips to the House of Commons.

Atherton had his guns removed by police in 2008 after he threatened, while drunk, to blow his own head off. But the weapons, including the shotgun he used to kill three members of his family, were returned weeks later.

Mr Turnbull, who is raising an e-petition, is calling for a series of changes to gun laws, including stricter checks of medical records for licensees.

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, has praised Mr Turnbull for his campaign.

He said: “My party has stated that when we return to office the law will be changed, and it is part of these efforts where for firearms licences there will be a presumption against that licence.

“I have got to pay tribute to the family in Horden, they have lobbied ministers and shadow ministers and written to MPs in a very sober way to set out the law.

“What that’s done is to affect a change in policy to my party, so I think that’s a substantial change.”

Mr Turnbull spent this new year abroad because of the terrible memories of that day.

He said: “The day is always going to bring back flashbacks of what happened that night, and at times it will feel like I’m reliving what happened. I couldn’t be myself if I stayed because everyone will know what happened.”