U.K. to consider introducing stricter crossbow laws after murders of woman and 2 daughters near London

London — The U.K. government will consider introducing stricter laws on crossbow ownership after three women were killed with one of the weapons in England on Wednesday. Carol Hunt, 61, and her daughters Hannah, 28, and Louise, 25, the family of BBC sports broadcaster John Hunt, were fatally attacked in their home northwest of London on Tuesday.

Following an hours-long manhunt, police found 26-year-old suspect Kyle Clifford in a cemetery in north London. He was brought to an area hospital to be treated for unspecified injuries and remained in custody at the facility on Thursday. 

He has not been placed under formal arrest or charged with any crime, but police said he was the sole suspect, and that the attack appeared to have been targeted.

British media reports, unconfirmed by authorities, said Clifford was the ex-boyfriend of one of the victims.

Bushey triple murder
Pictures left on floral tributes in Bushey, Hertfordshire, just north of London, where Carol Hunt, 61, the wife of BBC Five Live racing commentator John Hunt, and two of their daughters, Hannah, 28, and Louise, 25, were killed in a crossbow attack at their home, are seen the following day, July 11, 2024.

Jonathan Brady/PA Images/Getty

U.K. national Security Minister Dan Jarvis told CBS News’ partner network BBC News that Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, who is in charge of police and other law enforcement agencies, would “look clearly, very carefully at what happened yesterday — devastating events – and she will take a view in the near future.”

Jarvis said the government would “move at pace” to determine whether changes should be made on ownership laws, calling it a “real priority for the Home Secretary.”

Crossbows are legal in the U.K. and no license or registration is required to own one, though it is illegal to carry a crossbow in public without a “reasonable excuse.”

Jarvis said it was “entirely reasonable” to consider changing the current laws on ownership of crossbows in the U.K.

Under those regulations, a person aged 18 or over can legally buy and own a crossbow, and there is no licensing or registration requirement.

They are available for purchase online for as little as £50, or about $64, and have been subject to increased public scrutiny after being used in several high-profile crimes in recent years.

On Christmas Day in 2021, 19-year-old Jaswant Singh Chail was arrested on the grounds of Windsor Castle in possession of a crossbow. He told officers he was there to kill Queen Elizabeth II.

The incident prompted then-Home Secretary Priti Patel to launch a review into strengthening controls on crossbows and, in February 2024, the government again issued a call for evidence to explore tougher rules on the weapons.

Bushey triple murder
A forensic officer is seen at a home in Ashlyn Close, Bushey, Hertfordshire, England, where three women were killed in a crossbow attack the previous evening, July 10, 2024

James Manning/PA Images/Getty

Following Wednesday’s attack, Jarvis told the BBC that Britain’s new government it would “swiftly consider” the findings of that review in conjunction with the details of the murder investigation still underway north of London.

Gavin Hales, a Senior Associate Fellow at The Police Foundation, a British policing thinkctank, wrote in social media posts that the existing law “seems very at odds with those for firearms,” and that “a quick look reveals crossbows for sale that can fire their bolts/arrows at almost 400ft/second, apparently generating more than 80ft/lbs of kinetic energy.”

He noted that the “legal limit for air rifles without requiring a firearms certificate is 12 ft/lbs.”

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