Plymouth MP calls for gun law changes ahead of Keyham anniversary

Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said firearms laws needed ‘top to bottom reform’ as the ‘system is broken’.

11 February 2022

There have been calls for changes in gun laws to stop another mass shooting in the UK.

Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said firearms laws needed “top to bottom reform” as the “system is broken”.

He represents the community of Keyham where five people, including a three-year-old girl, were shot dead by Jake Davison, 22, during a 12-minute rampage on August 12 last year.

Plymouth Sutton and Devonport MP Luke Pollard represents the Keyham area and has called for a tightening of gun control laws (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Plymouth Sutton and Devonport MP Luke Pollard represents the Keyham area and has called for a tightening of gun control laws (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Davison, who had suffered mental health problems and could have been influenced by “incel” culture, legally held a firearms licence and pump action shotgun.

Following the tragedy, the Home Office announced that the police will now have to check someone’s medical history before issuing a gun licence.

All firearms applications must be accompanied by a medical document signed by a registered, practising doctor.

Speaking ahead of the six month anniversary of the shootings, Mr Pollard said: “I’ve been working with the families of some of the victims to look at how can we change the law around guns in particular to ensure that what happened in Keyham can’t happen anywhere else.

“The lessons from Keyham will come out from the inquest, which frankly could take many years to come out.

“But then we need to learn and make sure that no other community goes through what we have and that does mean changing the law around guns because it’s clear to me that the system is broken and needs top to bottom reform.”

Just weeks before the killings, Davison appeared to post on a YouTube account under the name Professor Waffle about how he was “beaten down” and “defeated by life”.

His channel was subscribed to gun-related accounts and another named Incel TV, which features content related to “involuntary celibacy”, although in one of his videos Davison said he “wouldn’t clarify myself as an incel”.

Gunman Jake Davison could have been radicalised by incel culture (PA)
Gunman Jake Davison could have been radicalised by incel culture (PA)

The online subculture involves men who express hostility and extreme resentment towards those who are sexually active, particularly women.

Mr Pollard said that irrespective of whether Davison was radicalised by incel culture, there needed to be a crackdown on websites hosting this material.

“We need to address mental health concerns and this really toxic underbelly of the internet, which is where hate, violent misogyny and incel culture is festering and growing,” he said.

“We won’t find out the true motivations of what happened until the inquest reports, but we can see rising hate in our communities and the entire country’s been alerted to the dangers and the horrors that incel culture represents.

“For me, our debate around how we tackle violence against women and girls has to recognise that incel culture exists and has to have a plan as to how we tackle it.

“Six months on we still don’t have an action plan from ministers about how to tackle it.

“We are still waiting for the Online Harms Bill from the Government to regulate the internet giants.

“I think we need to be looking at how those big online platforms not only share fake news and misinformation but also how they help the spread of violent incel culture.

“That needs to be informed by the lessons from Keyham.

“Keyham is not the only community where violence against women and girls and extreme porn has been present.

“This is difficult and complicated and is going to be very hard, but we’ve got to make a start and we’ve got to open our eyes to what is happening in all our communities and then start the processes as to find a solution.

“That won’t be quick but it is important that it happens.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating how the force approved Davison’s application and then later gave him back the licence and shotgun.

Regional director David Ford said: “I would again take this opportunity to send my sympathies to the bereaved families and those injured in the shootings, with whom we have kept in touch during the progress of our investigation.

“It is vitally important that we, and others, seek to identify what changes could be made to reduce the risk of any repeat of the horrific events of last August.

“As part of our investigation determinations, we will be considering both local and national learning recommendations around firearms licensing procedures.

“When we can issue our full findings publicly will depend on future discussion with the coroner.”

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