BRITISH gun laws were under intense scrutiny yesterday, after it emerged Derrick Bird was a licensed shotgun holder with a previous criminal conviction.

But Alan Bilton, secretary of Leamside Clay and Game Club, near Durham, said: “I don’t think there should be any more restrictions – not a single one – and I would fight any being brought in.

“You had Hungerford and then Dunblane and again the Government had a knee-jerk reaction.

“The only people who have been hurt through all these rules and regulations are lawabiding citizens. The criminals don’t hand guns in.

“What more restrictions could there be apart from banning guns altogether? I think that would be very difficult for the Government to get through.”

Shirley Harrison, secretary of Hartlepool Rifle Club, said: “You can never legislate against somebody who’s going to go off the rails.”

Phil Pugh, regional director of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, said: “The whole shooting community is as shocked as everyone else and our thoughts are with the victims’ families.

“But the controls in this country are some of the toughest in the world. We’ve got to focus on the motivation behind what made this man suddenly flip.”

But Lord Brian Mackenzie of Framwellgate, a former Durham Police chief superintendent, said: “If you look at the statistics, very few people are refused firearms or shotguns.

It may well be we need to apply the rules a little bit more totally.”

And Sir Ian Blair, former head of Scotland Yard, last night said the Government should consider asking relatives, neighbours and work colleagues whether people are fit to hold a gun licence.

Sir Ian said policy-makers could spread the net of people consulted on the suitability of those who want to own lethal weapons, adding that the approval of doctors, firearms officers and magistrates was “rather limited”.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron warned against “knee-jerk” demands for a tougher regime, while Home Secretary Theresa May said the Government would “consider all the options”– but not until the full facts of the case were known.

Shadow Home Secretary Alan Johnson said the issue should be dealt with in a “calm and rational way”.

Rebecca Peters, director of the International Action Network on Small Arms, said the idea that only “bad guys” do things like this is false.

“Having weapons designed to kill people is dangerous,”

she said.

Chrissie Hall, co-ordinator of the charity Infer Trust which works to raise awareness of guns, said there ought to be more transparency about who owns a gun.

But Michael Yardley, from the Shooting Sports Trust, said: “The majority of legal gun owners are responsible and use their weapon for sport and hunting.”