Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Blair announces review of firearms laws

Tony Blair insisted today that the wave of gun crime sweeping Britain's cities

was "a specific problem within a specific criminal culture".

Announcing a major review of firearms laws in the wake of five fatal shootings

in London, the Prime Minister argued gun violence was not a "general state of

British society."

One man was shot dead in east London yesterday and three others were wounded

in shootings in Manchester as armed gangs continued to show their contempt for

the law.

The latest attacks came after a spate of gun murders in south London in less

than a fortnight, including the deaths of three teenage boys.

Mr Blair has ordered a review of gun laws to help police deal with Britain's

inner-city gang culture.

He is considering proposals including lowering the age at which the mandatory

five-year sentence for carrying a gun can be imposed from 21 to 17.

Police could also be given new powers, similar to those of the new Serious

Organised Crime Agency, to mount surveillance of the homes of people suspected

of possessing and using firearms.

A summit this week will bring together ministers, police and community leaders

to discuss how best to tackle the problem.

Mr Blair acknowledged there was a "real problem" but said gun crime - and

violent crime in general - fell in London over the past year.

He told the BBC's Sunday AM Programme: "It is about a specific problem within a specific criminal culture to do with guns and gangs, which doesn't make it any less serious, incidentally, but I think it's important therefore that we address that actual issue."

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