A GUN lobby group yesterday consulted lawyers about the possibility of suing Central Scotland Police for negligence over the Dunblane shootings.

The Shooters' Rights Association said initial legal advice had given a ``favourable'' reaction to the possibility of launching a legal challenge.

The group added that preliminary advice had been taken about petitioning the Crown Office for culpable homicide proceedings against the force's former deputy chief constable, Mr Douglas McMurdo, who resigned as assistant inspector of constabulary for Scot

land after being criticised in Lord Cullen's report.

The SRA also plans to launch an election challenge in up to 70 seats across the UK, including Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth's marginal Stirling constituency, which includes Dunblane.

The organisation said the proceeds of successful civil action would go to those who had suffered during the recent slump in the firearms industry.

Mr Richard Law, SRA secretary, claimed yesterday that police had been negligent in issuing and renewing Thomas Hamilton's firearms licence. He said they had not carried out the necessary checks.

The question of liability might rest on whether it could be shown that the force could have foreseen what would happen as a result of their actions, he added.

He estimated that the loss to the industry from the Dunblane shootings in March to this month's Cullen Report was around #24m.

Action was being sought against Mr McMurdo to highlight where alleged responsibility lay for the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

Mr Law would be willing to launch joint legal challenges with parents of the murdered children against the force and Mr McMurdo.

Legal representatives of the parents have indicated that it would not be appropriate to consider legal action at present.

Fund-raising literature distributed by the SRA claims: ``The spectre of the most pernicious and evil legislation to stalk Europe since the reign of the Third Reich is about to be forced upon the British nation.

``This proposed law will affect each and every citizen of this once proud country. It paves the way for the kind of government that can rule by decree by first disarming the people it is supposed to serve.''

The Shadow Scottish Secretary, Mr George Robertson, who lives in Dunblane, said: ``The very fact that the gun lobby has to stoop to such revolting rubbish shows they are losing the argument. Those responsible for distributing this literature should resign

immediately and apologise to the people of Dunblane.''

A spokesman for Central Scotland Police said the force was unwilling to comment on the proposed legal action.

However, a statement is likely to be made by the chief constable in the event of formal notification of proceedings.