Dunblane Massacre

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The Dunblane massacre occurred at the primary school in the small town of Dunblane in Scotland. On Wednesday, March 13, 1996, unemployed former shopkeeper Thomas Hamilton, walked in to the school armed with two pistols, two revolvers and 743 cartridges and opened fire. He fired 105 rounds with one of his two 9 mm Browning semi-automatic pistols within about 3-4 minutes. Sixteen children of 4-6 years of age and one adult teacher died as a result. Hamilton then committed suicide.

After gaining entry to the school, Hamilton made his way to the gym hall and opened fire on a class, killing or wounding every person present. Fifteen children and a teacher (Mrs Gwen Mayor) died at the scene. Hamilton then fired one shot with one of his two .357 Smith & Wesson revolvers pointing upwards into his mouth, killing himself instantly. A further fifteen children and three adults were rushed to hospital as soon as the emergency services arrived, however one of these children was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. For a thorough timeline of the event, see [1] (http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/document/scottish/dunblane/dun03a.htm).

List of deceased victims:

  • Victoria Elizabeth Clydesdale
  • Emma Elizabeth Crozier
  • Melissa Helen Currie
  • Charlotte Louise Dunn
  • Kevin Allan Hasell
  • Ross William Irvine
  • David Charles Kerr
  • Mhairi Isabel MacBeath
  • Brett McKinnon
  • Abigail Joanne McLennan
  • Emily Morton
  • Sophie Jane Lockwood North
  • John Petrie
  • Joanna Caroline Ross
  • Hannah Louise Scott
  • Megan Turner
  • Gwen Mayor (schoolteacher)

Amongst the survivors was Andrew Murray, who would later win the boys' tennis U.S. Open.

Hamilton's motives will never be known for sure, but it is known that there were complaints to police of his suspicious behaviour towards boys who attended the youth club he ran. He was apparently prone to violence, and there were suspicions his interest in boys was less than healthy, and there was at least one complaint about photographs of boys being taken without the parents' consent. He claimed in letters that rumours about him led to the collapse of his shop business in 1983, and in the last months of his life he complained again that his attempts to set up a boy's club were subject to persecution by the police and the scout movement.

As a result of the tragedy, a public inquiry was held, led by Lord Cullen. Taking into account that Hamilton possessed the firearms under licence and warnings by members of the public about Hamilton's worrying treatment of young people should have resulted in his firearms licence being revoked, this inquiry recommended tighter control of handgun ownership as well as other changes in school security and vetting of people working with under-16s. But its recommendations were almost totally ignored because public feeling had turned against handgun ownership.

With the consent of Bob Dylan, a Dunblane musician named Ted Christopher wrote a new verse for "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" in memory of the Dunblane school children and their teacher. The recording of the revised version of the song, which included surviving school children singing chorus and Mark Knopfler on guitar, was released on December 9, 1996 in the UK. The proceeds went to charities for children.

Mrs Ann Pearson, a friend of some of the bereaved families, founded a very widely supported campaign, named the Snowdrop Petition because March is snowdrop time in Scotland, gained 705,000 signatures in support, and was successful in pressing Parliament, under the new 1997 Labour government of Tony Blair, for a UK-wide ban on handguns. Although the Tory legislation followed the Cullen Inquiry recommendations and banned only handguns greater than .22 calibre, the new Labour government went further with the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 and banned virtually all handguns.

See also

External links

After Dunblane Gun Control in the UK 1996-2001 (http://www.ippnw.org/HelsinkiNorth.pdf)

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