As funerals were held and the inquest opened for victims of the Cumbria shootings, Prime Minister David Cameron last week announced that the Home Office would be conducting a review of firearms legislation.
He also announced that the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) would be conducting a separate review into Cumbria polices response to the shootings and the licensing of the perpetrator Derrick Bird.
On Wednesday, 9 June, Harriet Harman MP, the leader of the Opposition, asked the Prime Minister if he was in a position yet to tell the House if the Government has any plans to reconsider the regulation of guns.
In response, David Cameron stated: Specifically on the gun laws, we need to be clear first about the full facts of the case. We also need, I think, to determine the type and scope of reviews that will take place after this tragedy. Of course the Home Office will look again at the gun laws in light of that and I can announce today as well that the chief constable of Cumbria has already written to the ACPO president asking him to support a clear review, to be conducted by national police experts on firearms licensing, the police firearms response and firearms tactics. These reviews will all become publicly available documents. I do believe we shouldnt leap to conclusions, I dont believe in knee-jerk legislations. We do have some of the tightest gun laws in this country, but of course we should look again.
The focus of the Home Office review on firearms law will be on mental health issues and the frequency of police visits to those who keep guns. During Prime Ministers questions, David Cameron was asked specifically by John Woodcock MP whether he thought that it is still worth the risk to allow guns used for sport to continue to be kept at home.
Mr Camerons response was: The honourable gentleman is right that everything has to be considered, including the mental health of people and police visits to their homes, but we have, because of previous tragedies, very strict rules on what people who keep guns at home have to do in terms of very strict security. I remember sitting on the Home Affairs Committee and asking the ACPO representative responsible for the issue how much leakage there was from legally held guns into the illegal black market.
The answer was virtually none, so if we are looking for what the problem is, it is clearly that in our society we have a huge number of guns that we need to get rid of. Clearly, there was an appalling problem in this case, where, as I have said, a switch flicked in someones head.
We cannot legislate against that, but let us look at every aspect and ensure that we have the robust laws that we need.