DERRICK Bird’s deadly shooting spree in Cumbria yesterday has shocked the nation.

For reasons that may never be fully known or understood, taxi driver Bird went on the rampage yesterday with two guns, killing 12 people in addition to himself.

First and foremost, our thoughts and sympathies go to the families and friends of those who died yesterday, and to those injured.

Yesterday’s events carried with them haunting echoes of previous gun massacres in Hungerford and Dunblane.

Those mass murders led to Britain having some of the toughest gun laws in the world.

Yet despite those laws, condemned as draconian by some, Derrick Bird was able to set about his killing spree yesterday.

There will no doubt now be calls from some quarters for a further tightening of gun laws or even a complete ban on firearms posession.

There are, of course, people who have legitimate reasons for owning guns, whether they be farmers or those who shoot for sport.

For that reason, a total ban could not work. We also doubt if such a move would stop incidents like the Cumbrian killings.

It has now been revealed that Derrick Bird had a gun licence.

Unless the system has gone badly wrong, this proves that even the most stringent of checks cannot legislate for someone simply going mad.

The harsh reality is it is the person with their finger on the trigger who is a potential killer rather than the weapon itself.