The Influence of Media on Firearms "Amended" Act and Its Progression

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My chosen Act was primarily influenced by the Media and by a strongly viewed pressure group called the Snowdrop Campaign, which had an immense amount of pressure on Parliament. The media had a strong effect on the decision making of the Firearm Act 1968, which was later amended, and created new sections on the Firearm (amendment) (No2) Act 1997. This was through the news, e.g. the independent, the sun, uploaded stories of the two tragic incidents that took place, this led to many people reading these stories as both killers had “mental illness” which received many extensive media coverages. Between the times of both incidents, government officials, media had testified about the gun habits that Britain had, which attracted notice.

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The story about Thomas Hamilton was featured on the daily mirror on the front page, which presented the killer himself and the innocent children and teacher he had slayed on the day, the paper was titled “HE SHOT THEM ALL” which catches the eye of many people, as the spree killings was in a primary school and many families were left unsettled due to their child being killed in a place where it was meant to be safe for formative years of five. This story trembled the nation. The title was written in bold text to emphasize the wild nature of the incident, the killers face was also featured at the front to show the public that this was a former teacher at the school, and how he had made his own way into a primary school.

The story about Michael Ryan was also featured on the Daily Mirror, which featured the killer as a young boy aged 11, Ryan had developed depression and loneliness due to his father’s death. The FrontPage also displays his mother, who was the first to be killed by Michael Ryan. The title of this page says, “MANIAC IN THE MAKING” as many of the public in various articles had said “he was spoilt”, they believed his upbringing had led him to commit this tragic incident, where he had killed seventeen of the public who were out at the time of the shooting.

Due to these articles on the News, this led to a pressure group called the Snowdrop campaign which had a huge influence in the decisions of the Act, as it turned into a nationwide movement. The founder of the campaign was Ann Pearston and the ‘victims’ families had joined the campaign, after realisation that victims of both killers, had used legally held handguns, this fear and concern was shared by the public to, which led to the government to enforce the firearms Act 1997. This pressure group lasted seven months, until the result in a ban of all privately held handguns.

The effect on parliaments law making had affected many people in the House of Parliament as the decision to pass the Bill initially, it was passed very quickly, and because of that urgency to enforce this Act in the later years it had to be amended due to the Act not being strict enough, so more sections were added, and some subsections had to be altered. Most MP’s had found it difficult to separate their personal to their political feelings, making them side with the snowdrop campaign as a result to help Britain with their handgun dependence. The government had banned the legal handguns as these guns were primarily permitted and authorised, which made the press target the government as these were allowed, and some people had used it in the incorrect means.

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