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Friday, 01 August 2014

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Media blamed for West Cumbria shootings

MEDIA sensationalising of gun massacres has been blamed for the tragic events of June 2.

Professor John Ashton, director of public health for NHS Cumbria, told the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday that it was a continual spiral, with one event impacting on another.

He said the reporting of the American 1999 massacre at Columbine High School sensationalised gun crime.

He said: “I do not think these things would have happened if there had not been mass media sensationalist coverage of Columbine shootings and other things.

“The media coverage of this event will sow the seeds for another event somewhere else in the world because of the global satellite coverage and sensationalisation of it. It needs to be addressed, bearing in mind within a few weeks there was another shooting in Northumberland.

“There was 24-hour coverage in Cumbria and people were descending on Cumbria as though it was a war zone.”

The committee also heard from the Rev Richard Lee, the team rector of Egremont.

He said: “If you live on the edge of a farmland, you are used to shotgun fire. But now that shotgun fire for certain people is deeply distressing. The sound of that shot now is a reminder of what happened, and is now deeply distressing. It reminds them of the attack upon themselves, their community.

“The effect is like an enormous stone block, there are fault lines that will fracture throughout and you never quite know where people are until you try to move the block and that is what is happening to people. It is a transition time.”

Copeland MP Jamie Reed told the committee that the availability and amount of ammunition which gun owners could purchase was a significant weakness in existing gun control legislation.

He said: “As a parent, it’s harder to buy more than two bottles of Calpol from a supermarket than it is for a rifle owner to buy 1,500 rounds of ammunition – that cannot be right.”

The Labour MP said the impact the events had on his constituents was “profound” and praised the Rev Lee for the remarkable way he led the community following the events.

Mr Reed said it was “fundamentally wrong” that within a matter of hours, news reporting became entertainment.

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