A LAKELAND based rural boss has urged people not to rush into a decision about gun control following yesterday’s shooting massacre in West Cumbria.

Douglas Chalmers, director of the Country Landowners and Business Association North, said it is already very difficult to obtain firearms and all ‘law-abiding’ citizens take gun ownership very seriously.

His comments come shortly after Prime Minister David Cameron advised caution against any 'knee-jerk' demands for tougher gun laws.

Mr Cameron acknowledged that there would be a debate on whether the gun laws needed to be changed in the light of yesterday's events, but cautioned against any rush to judgment.

"The right thing to do is of course to look at all of these issues and have an open mind," he said.

"But we should be clear that in this country we have some of the toughest gun control legislation anywhere in the world and we shouldn't make any knee-jerk reaction to think that there is some instant legislative or regulatory answer."

Home Secretary Theresa May announced that parliament will debate gun laws before the summer recess.

Mr Chalmers said: “We shouldn’t rush into anything until we can establish exactly what has happened and all the reasons behind it.

“The majority of rural gun users take the law and the responsibility of owning and using a gun very seriously.

“As with any legislation law-abiding people will abide by it and people who want to break the law and break regulations will carry on ignoring them. New legislation would only place further restrictions on the law abiding community.”

Under the current laws, any individual applying for a shotgun licence must fill in a form and apply directly to the local police who carry out visits to their home and speak to referees.

Officers often carry out checks with GPs and the applicant must have a safe place in which to store their shotgun. Licenses can be revoked at any time.

Mr Chalmers said: “It is a long and complicated process to get a license. There are very stringent processes in hand to stop a gun falling into the wrong hands and processes have been tightened up in recent years. Police will often ask referees about the applicants attitude to guns.

“Guns are an integral part of the community in Cumbria, whether for sport or for farmers stopping vermin from destroying crops or protecting livestock from foxes.

“Anyone who has been to a shooting ground will know just how strict everyone is when it comes to the responsible use of guns.”