There need to be strong deterrents to gun crimes

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Unlike America, we fortunately live in a country where personal gun ownership is something that is by-and-large frowned upon.

You won’t find an equivalent of the National Rifle Association wielding a powerful lobby in parliament, and our politicians are unlikely to start campaigning any time soon for private citizens to be able to buy assault weapons.

Gun crime remains relatively low in the UK to the extent that when there is a shooting it is still a major news story.

Contrast this with the US where incidents have to be horrific mass shootings to make an impact on their news cycle.

We are not going to pretend it is nonexistent in this country – there are sadly still incidents involving guns.

And despite our stringent laws on ownership these weapons can occasionally fall into the hands of people intent on doing ill.

And this is why we are glad the law is not lenient on this matter, as the trio of Branden Allison, Robert Watson and Derry Bisson are now finding.

All for the sake of £1.50 change and a packet of cigarettes, the three young men have been locked up for a total of more than 10 years.

Although it was only a toy gun they pulled on their terrified victim, he didn’t know that.

Earlier this year Anthony Bird, 38, of no fixed address, was jailed for six months for possession of an imitation firearm. Bird had painted a bright orange toy gun black – causing worried members of the public to dial 999 when they saw it in his waistband as he walked around Southsea.

In a world where some see terrorists around every corner, taking even an imitation firearm out is asking for trouble.

We know we don’t live in a trouble-free utopia, and when the courts hand out jail time for these offences it can send an effective deterrent.