Blair announces new gun-crime measures after fourth murder
Feb 18, 2007, 12:51 GMT
London - Following the deaths by shooting of four young men in London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced harsher penalties for possessing firearms Sunday.
Speaking to Britain's BBC television, Blair said that there would be a review of the firearms law and that he favoured lowering the age at which a person could receive a mandatory five-year sentence for owning a gun from 21 to 17.
Currently, the law carries a mandatory three-year sentence for those aged between 17 and 21 who possess a firearm.
Another young man was found shot dead in London Saturday, the fourth victim in two weeks of what appears to be a series of gangland killings.
The latest victim, in his 20s, was found in a car in the capital's East End Hackney district in the early hours, police said. Three teenagers were killed in earlier shootings in southern districts.
Armed police have been patrolling streets following the spate of killings.
Police in Manchester meanwhile were investigating more shootings after men aged 18, 19 and 27 were wounded in the northern English city's Moss Side area late Friday - again suspected gangland victims.
Britain already has one of the toughest legal regimes in the world for illegally possessing weapons.
Blair said that he was considering making membership of a gang a criminal offence and pledged to increase the number of police working to combat youth-gang crime.
He said that his cabinet and the police planned a summit later in the week to discuss gun crime.
Blair described the recent killings as 'shocking,' but denied they reflected the general situation for British young people today.
'It is about a specific problem within a specific criminal culture to do with guns and gangs, which doesn't make it any less serious, incidentally, but I think it's important therefore that we address that actual issue,' he told BBC One's Sunday AM programme.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur