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Last Updated: Friday, 23 November 2007, 12:54 GMT
MP wins backing for new gun law
The Finnish school killer
Eight people were killed in the Finnish high school massacre
A Euro MP for the north-west of England has won backing for her campaign to tighten laws on blank-firing guns that can be converted in to lethal weapons.

Arlene McCarthy says weapons of that type can, and have, been used to kill.

The move follows the Finland high school massacre and an attempted massacre in Germany.

Almost half the weapons seized by police in Greater Manchester last year were imitation weapons that have been converted to fire live rounds.

As controls on real firearms have been toughened, converted weapons have become a cheap, popular choice for criminals, police said.

They are illegal in the UK but are freely available in some other European Member States.

Ms McCarthy, whose constituency covers Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and part of Cheshire, has won backing from the European Commission and Member States, which makes it more likely to be made legislation.

Some of the converted guns from Germany
We have the chance to demonstrate to our citizens that we can tackle the problem of illegal weapons
Arlene McCarthy

Arlene McCarthy says this new law would classify convertible weapons as firearms.

It would ensure weapons could be traced to their owners and wouldn't fall in to the hands of violent criminials.

She is urging MEPs to back the proposal when they vote next week to make it law.

If adopted, it will come into force across Europe in January next year.

Arlene said: "We have the chance to demonstrate to our citizens that we can tackle the problem of illegal weapons across Europe.

"This is Europe taking practical action for its citizens. Now is the time to act."

She added: "It was a converted weapon which killed school girl Kamilah Peniston. Who knows how many other innocent lives these weapons have claimed across the UK.

"We can legislate on guns as much as we like in the UK, but if we don't work with our European partners on weapons law, guns will continue to find their way into the UK and kill young people on our inner city streets."

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