Dunblane QC makes plea on weapons

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The Independent Online
Another tragedy like the Dunblane massacre could "happen again at any time unless decisive action is taken", the lawyer representing the dead and injured from the school said yesterday.

Colin Campbell, QC, speaking as the tragedy at Wolverhampton was unfolding, was giving his own submission to the tribunal before Lord Cullen. He said the time had come for radical reform of Britain's gun laws and called for a ban on civilians owning firearms.

In an emotional speechstrongly critical of the Government's written submission to Lord Cullen, Mr Campbell said that "tinkering" with the law was not enough and that the time had come for "root-and-branch change".

Recalling both the horrors of the Hungerford massacre and the Dunblane shootings, he said: "Never again should we contemplate crimes such as these being carried out by someone using a lawfully held weapon."

Before the inquiry began in May, the Government announced it would await Lord Cullen's findings before deciding how to change the gun laws. Mr Campbell, on behalf of the Dunblane families, reminded legislators that as long as that was the case, "the potential for another Dunblane will remain". He said any new system of licensing would rely on human judgment and discretion and that "mistakes will occur". The need for action was urgent. "The passage of time dims the memory," he said.

Quoting from the joint submission to the Cullen inquiry by the Home Office and the office of the Secretary of State for Scotland, Mr Campbell indicated that the Government's view leaned towards a tightening of existing laws rather than a ban. Yet the availability of weapons was, he said, the most important factor in gun crimes and there was now an opportunity to end that availability.

Earlier, the Crown ended its evidence. Submissions to the inquiry are expected to be concluded today.

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