A YOUNG MAN whose mother, sister and aunt were shot dead by his stepfather has launched a campaign for stricter gun laws to be introduced.

Bobby Turnbull, 23, lost his mother Alison Turnbull, 44, sister Tanya Turnbull, 24, and his aunt, Susan McGoldrick, 47 in the shootings in Horden, County Durham, on New Year’s Day.

The gunman, Michael Atherton, who was Ms McGoldrick’s partner, also shot and injured her daughter Laura, who suffered minor injuries and escaped by jumping from a window, before turning the gun on himself, following an argument.

Now Mr Turnbull and the rest of his family have started a petition in a bid to change gun licensing procedures.

After the shootings it emerged that Atherton’s weapons were legally held, but they had been removed by Durham Police after concerns over alleged threats he made to harm himself in 2008.

The weapons were taken from his house as a precaution, but as he insisted there had been no threat to harm himself, they were returned.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is now investigating licensing issues surrounding the case.

Mr Turnbull, of Blackhall Colliery, believes Atherton should never have been allowed to keep the guns.

He said: "Every day I still think about what happened that night.

"It is something I'm never going to forget but it's something I have to learn to live with. I will never forget how those three girls were killed.”

The petition calls for better co-operation between police and health professionals and asks for individuals with a criminal past, history of mental instability or of domestic violence to be identified.

Mr Turnbull said: "People knew the type of person he was and he shouldn't have been granted a shotgun licence.

"If there were tighter gun restrictions and clearer guidance on the granting of gun laws then maybe the three girls wouldn't have been killed.”

The family want the petition to help others.

Mr Turnbull said: "We will never know if a change in the law will save people's lives but we can always say that we have done something to try.”

He added: "If they were here now, they would be so proud. I believe they are looking down on us now and they know what we are doing."

To sign the petition go to epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/33913