Today marks the 25th anniversary of a mass shooting that occurred in the quiet town of Dunblane, Scotland on Wednesday the 13th of March, 1996.
A man named Thomas Hamilton walked into a junior school at 9:30 that morning carrying two Browning 9mm pistols and two Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum revolvers. He also had around 740 rounds of spare ammunition.
The guns and ammunition were held by him legally, under UK gun laws that existed at the time.
In the school gymnasium, 28 very young schoolchildren were assembled for a gym class, being supervised by three adult teachers. Hamilton walked in, and began firing immediately.
Less than five minutes later, Hamilton had shot 32 children and staff, killing 17 of them. He then killed himself, by firing a gun into his mouth.
Here are the names and ages of those he killed.
Victoria Elizabeth Clydesdale (age 5)
Emma Elizabeth Crozier (age 5)
Melissa Helen Currie (age 5)
Charlotte Louise Dunn (age 5)
Kevin Allan Hasell (age 5)
Ross William Irvine (age 5)
David Charles Kerr (age 5)
Mhairi Isabel MacBeath (age 5)
Gwen Mayor (age 45) (teacher)
Brett McKinnon (age 6)
Abigail Joanne McLennan (age 5)
Emily Morton (age 5)
Sophie Jane Lockwood North (age 5)
John Petrie (age 5)
Joanna Caroline Ross (age 5)
Hannah Louise Scott (age 5)
Megan Turner (age 5)
Britain was stunned by this mass shooting. The shock extended far from Dunblane, affecting every corner of this country.
As a result, the laws on legally held firearms were changed.
In response to this public debate, the Conservative government of Prime Minister John Major introduced the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997, which banned all cartridge ammunition handguns with the exception of .22 calibre single-shot weapons in England, Scotland and Wales. Following the 1997 general election, the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair introduced the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997, banning the remaining .22 cartridge handguns as well. This left only muzzle-loading and historic handguns legal, as well as certain sporting handguns (e.g. “Long-Arms”) that fall outside the Home Office definition of a “handgun” because of their dimensions.
Never forget why that happened.