Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: There's no place in society for gun law

Police and an ambulance at the scene of the shooting in Waringstown on Monday night
Police and an ambulance at the scene of the shooting in Waringstown on Monday night

Editor's Viewpoint

Malcolm McKeown was a career criminal and at the time of his death - shot in a car behind a petrol station in Waringstown - was before the courts charged with a terrifying aggravated burglary, among other offences.

This, however, was minor-league criminality compared to other crimes he is believed to have been involved in or directed. These included murder, robbery and drug dealing, and his criminal gang is also believed to have brazenly launched a series of arson attacks on cars belonging to police officers.

He came from a family two members of which were no strangers to involvement in serious crime. The two brothers were each jailed for separate loyalist terrorist murders.

As one source put it, there will be few outside his family circle who will mourn his passing. Yet the manner of his death - predictable as it may have been - must be condemned.

Who gave those who ordered the killing and who pulled the trigger the right to be judge, jury and executioner of this man? What sort of a society is this where a man is shot dead in a vehicle and his body left to be found by two young children?

What a traumatic sight it must have been for the two 12-year-olds out playing and coming across the body.

Malcolm McKeown may have been guilty of heinous crimes, but his self-appointed executioners hold no high moral ground. What they did - carry out murder - is the most serious criminal act possible.

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The only proper and acceptable way to deal with any lawbreaker is for the police to gather evidence, arrest the person and bring them before the courts where the appropriate sentence is passed on conviction.

There is no place in this society for gun law. If it is deemed excusable, then society is on a slippery path towards anarchy.

For all his criminal activities, Malcolm McKeown had no case to answer to those who shot him dead.

It should be the sincere wish of all law-abiding people in this province that his killers are identified, brought before the courts and convicted. They obviously are very dangerous people and the sooner they are taken off the streets, the sooner people in the Co Down and Co Armagh areas can rest easier knowing that they are behind bars.

It is the duty of anyone with any information on this killing to give that to the police so that this crime can be solved.

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