Twin of gun victim Kelly Fitzgibbons calls for changes to firearm licensing laws

The twin sister of a woman who was shot and killed along with her two daughters is calling for reforms to firearms legislation.

Kelly Fitzgibbons, 40, and her two daughters Ava and Lexi Needham, aged four and two, were killed by her partner – the children’s father – in March 2020.

Robert Needham used a legally-held gun to kill Ms Fitzgibbons and the girls at their home in Woodmancote, West Sussex before turning the weapon on himself.

An inquest heard Needham, a cocaine user, had been given a shotgun certificate despite Sussex Police discovering he lied on his application form about periods of depression and a police caution he received as a youth.

Kelly Fitzgibbons (left) with her twin sister Emma Ambler was killed by her partner (family handout/PA)
Kelly Fitzgibbons, left, pictured with her twin sister, Emma Ambler, was killed by her partner (family handout/PA)

Emma Ambler set up the Kelly Fitzgibbons Foundation in her sister’s memory, calling for reforms to gun laws.

Mrs Ambler, 43, from Chichester in West Sussex, said there were several “easy” changes that could be introduced now, which would save lives.

“We believe a number of changes need to be made in relation to gun licensing,” she told the PA news agency.

“A number of these we believe are very easy and could be made with immediate effect and that is to not grant gun licences to people who are found to be lying as part of the application process, as Rob had.

“Also don’t give gun licences to people with mental health issues or recurring episodes of depression, as Rob had.

“If people feel strongly they want to shoot they can go to a gun club but they don’t need a licence to do that.

“Firearms and shotgun certificates should be reviewed more frequently as renewal every five years isn’t enough.

“At my sister’s inquest, three police officers said reviews should be held annually yet they are not because there are not the resources to do so.”

The families of the Keyham mass shooting victims want to see shotgun legislation brought into line with the tougher laws for schedule one firearms, such as rifles, which see applicants needing two referees and a “good reason” to possess the weapon.

“People should most definitely have to explain for what purpose they want the gun, and that should be verified, which I’m pretty sure it isn’t currently,” Mrs Ambler said.

“I don’t think you should be allowed to store both the gun and the ammunition at home if you are only allowed to shoot on set pieces of land, which isn’t at your home.”

Mrs Ambler said the application fee should be increased to cover the costs of more rigorous checks and the taxpayer should not be subsidising the current system.

“The current licensing fee is currently cheaper than owning a fishing licence,” she said.

“I most certainly do not want my taxes subsidising somebody’s gun licence, especially when the NHS is on its knees. This Government has got its priorities totally wrong.

“The more complex thing that needs resolving is the relationship between the GPs and the police, whilst small changes have been made since I lost my sister, they don’t go far enough.

“At the moment, GPs only have to use best endeavours to inform the police in any health changes of a gun holder. It most definitely should be mandatory.

“Things will 100% be missed if it continues as it is.

“With everything else they have to do … changes or drug habits, as in Rob’s case won’t be reported.

“The GPs need to be contracted and paid to deliver this service otherwise it is never going to work.”

She agrees with Luke Pollard, the Plymouth Sutton and Devonport MP, who has been campaigning for firearms reform, which includes a ban on keeping pump-action shotguns in homes.

Mrs Ambler also wants improvements to the training given to firearms enquiry officers and criticised the “lack of curiosity”.

“This was something that came up at my sister’s inquest as a lot of firearms licensing officers have very minimal or basic training,” she said.

“There doesn’t appear to be any professional curiosity. I could have done a far better job than the one who carried out the assessment on Rob and there was no cross-checking of information at all.

“I most definitely think there should be additional training for these staff – perhaps hearing from a family that has been bereaved as part of that training so they understand the importance of their job.

“At the moment, it feels like your right to have a gun is more important than the safety of the public, it should be a privilege not a right.”