Brown said the killing was "a heinous crime that has shocked the whole of the country".

"Where there is a need for new laws, we will pass them."

Rhys is the eighth young person this year to have died as a result of a shooting.

According to government figures, in 2007 gun-related murders are up 18 per cent from the previous year.

Stiffer sentences

Iffat Rivzi, of Mothers Against Guns, and whose daughter Sabina was killed in a shooting in 2003, told Al Jazeera that gun crime will be tackled only with support from the communities and the government.

Gun crime in Britain

"The people responsible will be tracked down, arrested and punished.

"Where there is a need for new laws, we will pass them."


Gordon Brown, British prime minister

"When an incident does occur, [communities] need to stand against this crime, to come forward, and testify."
 
She said that antisocial behaviour orders (Asbos) were not enough and that through her outreach work she had been told that children had easy access to illegal guns on the streets.

"The government tries to put in place programmes such as Asbos, but it's not good enough. They have not given stiffer sentences. What I mean is 'life' should be life, irrelevant of age," she said.

Simon Byrne, the assistant chief constable of Merseyside police, which covers Liverpool, admitted that gun crime was "part of everyday life in certain parts of Britain".

He asked residents to turn the gunman in, saying: "You can only imagine the heartache of the family that's been ripped apart by quite a senseless crime."

Stabbings

The biggest concern is the rise in the number of young people carrying real or imitation fire arms.

A growing gang culture and gang-related violence are part of the problem. There's a perception among some young people that guns mean status and protection.

Although gun deaths are rising, knife-related killings still occur four times as often. In the capital alone, 12 teenagers have been stabbed to death so far this year.