MP faces calls to resign over gun speech
ANTI-GUN campaigners called for a senior Conservative MP to be sacked last night after he claimed that children should be taught how to handle firearms.
Patrick Mercer, the Tory home security spokesman, prompted widespread controversy during a fringe speech to party members last weekend when he also claimed the ban on handguns, introduced after the Dunblane massacre, had "no effect" on spiralling gun crime.
Yesterday, his comments were condemned by anti-gun groups and politicians who joined in calls on the Tory leader, Michael Howard, to sack the MP from the front bench.
Mothers Against Murder and Aggression spokeswoman Dee Warner said that Mr Mercer’s comments were "crass" and "appalling".
"Thomas Hamilton and Tony Martin both held legal firearms," she said. "I have been speaking to the other anti-gun groups and we would like him sacked for making such crass comments when so many people are fighting to take guns off the streets.
"I just find his comments appalling. It shows how out of touch he is with what is happening on our streets. Teaching children to use firearms is completely misguided."
Dr Mick North, whose daughter Sophie died in the Dunblane massacre, said the MP was wrong to say that children should be taught to handle guns. "You do not train children to use dangerous machinery, like combine harvesters, until they are adults.
"I do not see that guns are any different. The army does not refuse new recruits simply because they haven’t fired a gun in childhood," he said.
Mr Mercer responded to criticism yesterday by saying that his comments had been taken out of context. The politician claimed he had said that only children in rural communities should be taught how to use "non-lethal" weapons such as air rifles as a prelude to using shotguns in later life.
He said: "I made no mention of children being taught to use handguns. The only thing I said was that in rural areas it made sense for things like airguns and BB guns to be handled by children so that in later life, when they have access to shotguns, they knew how to handle them safely and with respect."
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Friday 24 May 2013
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