Ringo Starr asked for "peace and love" as he launched a new anti-weapons initiative yesterday (08.12.11) on the 31st anniversary of John Lennon's murder.

The former Beatles drummer called for tougher sentences for anyone caught with guns as he unveiled a statue he has designed for a Non-Violence Project Foundation.

Speaking at the event at Gibson Studios in London, he said: "If you are caught with a gun it should be a higher sentence.

"Guns are just becoming more and more. They're like the death of choice. So we hope that young people will stop.

"I can't stand up and dictate to the world: 'it's over - no more guns.' I can just do what I do, and there's another side to the story which is peace and love."

Ringo also spoke of the "mad moment" he heard John had been shot outside the Dakota building in New York by deranged fan Mark Chapman in 1980.

He recalled: "My stepchildren called saying, 'Something's happened to John.' And you don't think, 'He's been killed', so you say, 'Well, what's happened?'

"They called me back. They called and said, 'John's been killed. He's been shot and he's dead.'

In the wake of the tragedy, Ringo flew from the Bahamas to New York to see if he could be of assistance following his friend's death. Although he helped the 'Working Class Hero' singer's widow Yoko Ono care for their son Sean and tried to support her, he later left because he decided having another Beatle around was not helping the situation.

He said: "You don't know what to do. Your emotions are so whacked out. You don't believe it really, but you know it's happening. It's just such a mad moment.

"Yoko was there, of course, and she just asked us to look after Sean, who was a baby, and that's all we did for a couple of hours.

"In the end it was so crazy that we got on another plane that night and went to Los Angeles."

Gesturing to his statue of a knotted gun, he said: "It was a bad day. But it was a bad day because someone took one of these and shot John."

Ringo's statue is a take on Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reutersward's bronze work, Non-Violence - which stands outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York - and is expected to tour British schools as part of a non-violence campaign.

However, the 71-year-old musician already has bigger plans for the artwork, a multi-coloured design featuring the word 'Imagine' above the trigger - after John's most famous solo song.

He said: "I think they should be produced bigger and placed on a plinth on Trafalgar Square. Other musicians should make one too. They should spread it out."