Starmer Demands Government Crackdown on Online 'Misogyny' After Plymouth Shootings
19:08 GMT 14.08.2021 (Updated: 04:28 GMT 15.08.2021)
The British opposition leader responded to reports that the perpetrator of the Plymouth shotgun rampage identified as an "incel", with the lawmaker contradicting his own argument made earlier that day that UK gun control laws were too lax.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has demanded the government legislate to ban "misogyny" in the wake of the Plymouth mass shooting that killed six.
Starmer tweeted that Thursday's rampage by local man Jake Davison, in the southwest Devon port city's Keyham district, was evidence of an "extreme misogynist ideology", insisting "it's [sic] online nature must be addressed".
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) August 14, 2021
YouTube videos posted by Davison, since deleted by the site, reportedly saw him refer to himself as an "incel" or involuntary celibate male. Fears have grown over the past decade of incels and "men's rights activism movements" following the posting of some manifestos on the internet — although no such real-world organisations have been identified.
But the Labour leader, a barrister and former director of public prosecutions, earlier claimed loopholes in Britain's gun licensing regulations — already some of the tightest in the world — were to blame for the tragedy.
"How on earth did he get a gun license in the first place?", Starmer asked. "What back-up checks were done?"
"I do think there are wider questions here and that could involve a review of the gun licensing laws because there are other questions here that urgently need to be addressed".
Davison held a valid shotgun certificate (SGC), not a full firearms certificate (FAC). Obtaining an SGC requires only one person to write a reference in the applicant's favour, rather than the required two for an FAC.
On Friday, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was investigating the Devon and Cornwall Police decision to return Davison's shotgun and reinstate his certificate three months after confiscating and revoking them in September 2020 following a complaint of assault against him. An investigation was launched at the force's own request.
Laws passed following the Hungerford and Dunblane massacres of 1987 and 1996 — the second and fourth of mainland Britain's six mass shootings to date — banned semi-automatic rifles over .22 rimfire calibre and all modern handguns, and required an FAC for repeating shotguns with a capacity of over three rounds.
Of the five fatalities in Davison's shooting spree — not including his own suicide — one was his mother, two were men, one a three-year-old girl and one a 66-year-old woman. The child, Sophie Martyn, and her father, Lee Martyn, were Davison's neighbours, while Davison encountered the other two while roaming the neighbourhood.
An unnamed 53-year-old woman and her 33-year-old son were also injured but are expected to make a full recovery. The son and brother of the victims, named only as Jordan, reacted angrily to speculation about the incident.
"What I don't appreciate is the stupid and pathetic rumours that have been made up about this horrific situation!", he said. "Other than the people who were involved only we know the truth that has happened".
The spectre of incel shooting sprees was first raised in 2014, when a wealthy young California university student named Elliot Rodger shot and stabbed two young women and three men to death, before killing himself, posting a video on YouTube beforehand blaming his actions on his sexual frustrations.
In 2018, Alek Minassian posted a message on Facebook declaring "the Incel Rebellion has already begun!", lauding Rodger as the "supreme gentleman" before the former killed 10 people by steering a rented van onto the pavement in the centre of the Canadian city of Toronto, running down pedestrians. Minassian's defence lawyers argued during his trial this year that he bore diminished responsibility due to a diagnosis of autism.
In March of this year, the Labour shadow domestic violence minister, Jess Phillips, called for misogyny to be classed as a "hate crime". Phillips, the opposition frontbencher, said such a move would allow the prosecution of YouTuber and 2019 UKIP European Parliament candidate Carl Benjamin, known by some as Sargon of Akkad, for his comments during that election that he would not want to rape her — made in response to Phillips loudly mocking calls by a Conservative MP for a national men's day to highlight the high rate of male suicides.