In Brief

Dunblane families send letter of support to Parkland survivors

Scottish community reaches out to Florida students on 22nd anniversary of UK’s last school shooting

Families of the victims of the Dunblane school shooting have marked the 22nd anniversary of the massacre by sending an open letter to the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School attack.

The letter - signed by 78 survivors and relatives of the victims of the 1996 shooting - contained a message of support to Parkland students, who have been campaigning for gun control reform in the US in the wake of the Valentine’s Day rampage. Former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, shot dead 17 people at the Florida school. 

Citing the changes to handgun ownership laws in the UK that occurred in the aftermath of the shooting, the Dunblane families urged the US students to keep fighting for gun reforms, and said they would be remembering the victims of both massacres at a service on Tuesday night. 

“We want you to know that change can happen,” the letter reads. “Never let anyone forget. There will be attempts to deflect you, to divide you and doubtless to intimidate you, but you’ve already shown great wisdom and strength.

“The gunman owned his four handguns legally, and we knew it had been too easy for him to arm himself with lethal weapons. Like you, we vowed to do something about it. We persuaded British lawmakers not to be swayed by the vested interests of the gun lobby, we asked them to put public safety first and to heed what the majority of the British people wanted.”

The Scottish community also applauded the March For Our Lives protests and rallies taking place across the US on 24 March, saying: “We offer you our total support for the March for Our Lives and sincerely hope you achieve success. It can be done. #NeverAgain.”

On 13 March 1996, 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton entered Dunblane Primary School and killed 16 children aged five and six, as well as their 45-year-old teacher, Gwen Mayor, before shooting himself dead. The guns and ammunition used in the shooting were all legally purchased.

The massacre was a watershed moment for gun control laws in the UK, sparking “nationwide mourning and a furious debate about gun control that pitted grieving families against conservative politicians and a powerful gun lobby”, Buzzfeed reports.

Just over a year later, handguns were outlawed in Britain under the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997.

There has never been another school shooting in the UK.

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