AS the horrific news of yesterday's mass murder in Cumbria begins to sink in, the inevitable question about gun laws is starting to be asked.

Police in Whitehaven, investigating the slaying of 12 people in the area, say that killer Derrick Bird was registered to hold firearms.

Little more has come out about the circumstances of how or why the taxi driver held a gun licence, but it begs the question about the criteria used to permit people to hold such deadly weapons.

The 1966 Firearms Act was strengthened in 1988 following the 1987 Hungerford massacre and it was toughened-up again in 1997 after Thomas Hamilton's killing spree at a school in Dunblane.

But is this latest killing spree - a rare event, it has to be said - justification enough to get even tougher?

Would an outright ban on all firearms be a workable law? Is it possible to legislate against a person like Derrick Bird, bearing in mind he was such a "lovely man" to many?

What is the answer?

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