Nick Griffin, the British National Party leader, very properly expressed his condolences to all those affected by the shootings in West Cumbria, part of the North West region for which he is an MEP.
It seems that Derrick Bird was an ordinary man who suddenly snapped under pressure, whether from an impending tax investigation, arguments at the taxi rank where he worked, a family dispute or some other reason that has not yet come to light. We may never know the precise cause.
Unfortunately Bird was able to inflict such carnage because he had guns. Someone else in a similar situation might have killed a person or committed suicide and innocent people might have suffered in the process, but it is very unlikely there would have been so many deaths and so many people injured.
Britain’s gun laws are among the toughest in the world and further restrictions may not be the answer. There are legitimate reasons why some people should be allowed to own certain types of firearms. And whatever the criteria for granting an individual a gun licence, the police will never be able to detect every single applicant who might many years later “go postal”.
What is certain, however, is that were Griffin to have his way and every household required to keep “a standard-issue military assault rifle and ammunition” – BNP policy – there would be far more incidents such as the Cumbria tragedy, because far more people who suffer a momentary loss of control would have the opportunity to take it out on those whom they perceive as the causes of their problems.
That makes Griffin’s sympathies for Bird’s victims somewhat hypocritical.