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My thoughts may be looked at, especially by those living in the UK where we have very strict gun control laws and not the gun culture of the US, but I think the conversation needs to happen, but in a realistic way, especially for the situation in the US.

We are now all watching the aftermath of yet another mass killing in the US… On Wednesday, 19yr old Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and opened fire on students and staff, killing 17 people with a semi-automatic AR-15 Military Style Assault Rifle.

Cruz was a previous student of the school of which he was expelled from. It is already very clear that Cruz had mental health issues, the police are already with the FBI dissecting the online footprint of Cruz, his web history and social media. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel described some of the things he had already seen as “very, very disturbing”.

Cruz was also in the possession of a gas mask, smoke grenades and several magazines of ammunition.

So again, the topic of gun law has been put in the news in the US… This is now the 18th multiple casualty shooting in the US, just this year. So what should happen next?

US gun culture is embedded into their Constitution, ‘The Right to Keep & Bare Arms’… So to think that the US will lay down their arms and rewrite their constitution would be hugely naive! The US love guns!

As a former British soldier myself and former gun owner back when UK laws allowed us to own hand guns, I feel gun laws should be changed in the US, but not restrict the type of weapons available.

There in my opinion is no reason why a gun enthusiast should not be able to purchase such weapons as assault rifles, but the control of housing them does need to be looked at, just as in the UK after Dunblane in a shooting at Dunblane Primary School saw Thomas Hamilton shoot and kill 16 children and 1 teacher on 13th March 1996. Gun control has been politicised by politicians, at the time of Dunblane, the then PM Tony Blair used the tragedy to totally ban hand guns, I at the time had four hand guns that I responsibly used at gun clubs and never had housed at my personal family address, my weapons were housed in the armoury where I was based at the time.

Two key areas in gun control need to be looked at in my opinion, firstly the access to guns to those with mental health issues an checks to make sure someone with mental health issues can not purchase a gun. Secondly, the housing of weapons when they are not in use… There is no need to have such weapons as an AR15 at home, you are never going to need such a weapon to defend yourself in an event such as a home invasion, in fact you would be far better off in such an event with a hand gun than an assault rifle. An intruder is never going to break into a house with an assault rifle.

Responsible gun users us guns at gun ranges, these gun ranges often have a shop where someone can purchase a firearm, and these ranges tend to have armouries on site, so simple solution would be to make law in the US that all assault rifles are to be housed in gun club armouries and never taken off premises. This does not impact on the constitutional rights to keep and bare arms.

On the matter of purchasing firearms, strict background checks should be made and a simple form signed by your doctor who has the medical records to look at to make a decision as to whether the applicant is mentally OK to own a firearm.

I would also say that, as not to take the use of guns from those who fail background checks on mental health reasons, why not allow them to go to gun clubs to shoot on the ranges under supervision.

The US gun control laws are too extreme where guns are on every street, but UK gun laws are far too extreme the other way. We should be able to own guns in the UK and have access to experience fire arms such as assault rifles at controlled gun clubs.

I’m not saying the UK should allow someone to purchase a hand gun and take it home, I’m saying we should be able to purchase a hand gun at a licenced gun club/range and the purchased guns should be housed at the club in their armoury and not allowed off premise.

These controls would keep legally owned assault rifles of the streets, illegal weapons is a different matter and a different argument. Gun ownership by responsible owners should not be negatively impacted upon by a minority of owners that decide to kill. Its the laws that should be tightened to restrict who can purchase a weapon and where they can house them.

I’m sure many, especially in the UK will disagree an feel guns should not be allowed to be purchased. But I feel my ideas are a middle ground. Here in the UK we have a culture that even most police do not carry firearms, and that’s a great thing that our police are capable to effectively police an be safe without the need for firearms. A sensible middle ground on gun ownership is the way forward, not calls for bans like we had in the UK in the late 90s after the Dunblane tragedy.

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