In order of circulation, we’ll start with the largest which is of course The Sun who appear to have nothing to say at all. This isn’t surprising, being a right-wing tabloid, although they may just not have much on the web site – they seem to be short on news on the topic overall.
The Daily Mail, somewhere between broadsheets and tabloids and right wing has a short piece just saying there are calls for a review, so pretty neutral. Interesting they state they believe Derrick Bird didn’t spend time in prison following his theft conviction, the Mirror (below) state he spent 12 months inside. Mostly, they focus on why it took so long to stop Bird. Of course, he was never stopped – he killed himself when under no threat from police from what’s been reported – and if you look at other killing sprees it’s typical for them to end after many hours by suicide of the gunman so the police don’t appear to have been in any way lax.
The Daily Mirror is the other big-circulation tabloid and more left wing. It carries three pieces, two op-eds by “Voice of the Mirror” and another by Paul Routledge who asks “…why does anybody need to own…a high-powered sniperâ€™s rifle?”. Derrick’s weapon was a .22, which is hardly “high powered” and the fact it’s fitted with a scope is irrelevant – anyone can buy and fit a scope. I’ve even put one on my low-powered doesn’t-need-a-firearms-certificate air rifle that I shoot paper targets with from 35m. Their final piece, the source of the 12 months in prison I mentioned above, is a fairly neutral statement of current laws. 12 months seems like an odd period of time to spend inside as I believe prisoners are usually let out early. Perhaps he had a 12 month sentence and it’s not clear how much of it he actually served? It’s not above most tabloids journalistic integrity to be lax with checking the facts in cases like this.
The Daily Star spend significant screen space on alleration in their main piece but only a very short piece on gun control, a faimilar theme developing amongst the right wing tabloids. That they need to put the quotes in More “news” here… at the bottom of the page is telling in itself.
We start on the broadsheets with The Telegraph, who have a longer piece which is predictably, being a right wing paper, fairly neutral. No obvious factual errors either, which is as would be expected from a newspaper of record… except for that fact that their mistaken expert sparked my interest in blogging about this in the first place.
Another right wing middle-market paper, The Diana Express… sorry, The Daily Express, breaks from the trend of other right wing papers in being somewhat more aggressive in it’s writeup, having found a random squaddie to say the laws should be tougher and there should be yearly psychological assessments, something which it probably completley impractical.
As anyone following the news will know, The Times is now behind a “pay-wall” so I’ve no idea what they think as is The Financial Times, although the latter appears not to cover the story in much detail. Similary, the Scottish Daily Record doesn’t go into as much depth as other papers for obvious reasons.
Then we come to the significantly more left-wing Guardian at number ten in the circulation figures. Being left wing, it is predictably saying the law isn’t tough enough and describes the .22 as “high calibre”. Perhaps it’s different for civilians, but from the small amount of military experience I have I’d regard anything in the .22/5.56mm range as small calibre. 7.62mm (0.3″) would be high calibre. It’s disappointing to see LIb Dem MP John Pugh fall into the trap of referring to the two weapons as a “formidable and devastating arsenal” when we don’t know for sure what the .22 was yet and even if we did, it’s hardly a “formidable arsenal”. If it is, perhaps my trips out on military training areas with a single SA-80 count as going around with a “small arsenal” and shooting paper targets in the back garden with an air rifle is considered “well armed”.
Those are the top ten, with The Independent falling just outside that at number eleven. I would include them too except they seem quite on the issue.
So, overall it appears there may not be much pressure to tighten up gun control laws, which is surprisingly not what I expected. Most papers seem to be running with “we already have some of the toughest laws in the world” and focusing, unfairly I think, on the police response to the shootings.