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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 3/12/2006 5:13:02 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/12/2006 5:14:58 PM EDT by CRC]
CHILDHOOD’S END
Ten years ago, a madman shot 16 children and their teacher to death in a small Scottish town, sparking a call for stricter gun control
By Georgia Hanias

WALKING PAST the row of pristine Victorian homes on the way to Dunblane Primary and Nursery School it is impossible to imagine anything evil.

Dunblane is a quiet, beautiful Scottish town, the kind of place where people settle down and raise kids. It does not feel sad or detached. People make eye contact and smile when they walk out of the school. Children laugh freely and play on the grounds. Teachers gather outside the parking lot for a chat.

This visual slice of normality is at odds with the shocking tragedy that took place in Dunblane 10 years ago. On March 13, 1996, Thomas Hamilton, a 43-year-old gun fanatic, drove a white van to the local school to take revenge against the town for stopping him from working at a local boys club.

Wearing a dark jacket, corduroy trousers, a woolly cap and ear muffs, and armed with four handguns and 700 rounds of ammunition, he stormed the school gym at 9:30 a.m. He fired 103 bullets, aiming mostly at the three teachers and 28 children in the gym. Hamilton then went out through a back exit and fired at children in another classroom. He came back to the gym and, at point-blank range, shot children who lay injured on the floor.

Hamilton then took one of his revolvers and killed himself with a single shot. In less than four minutes, he had murdered 16 children and one teacher.

Dunblane, once a peaceful anonymous town in Scotland, had become the site of the worst mass murder in Britain’s post-war history.

Ten years have passed since the massacre but there will be no public memorial service to mark the anniversary. It is a way to play down the significance of the event and show the world that Dunblane has moved on since that terrible day. Even the school gym where the killings took place has been destroyed and rebuilt.

Unlike the rest of the town, Mick North, a retired University lecturer, does not want to mourn in silence. His only child Sophie was one of those killed in Dunblane.

"The world must never forget Dunblane," says North, 58, at his home in Glasgow, Scotland. "There is a tendency to not want to dwell on something that upsets people so badly at the time it happened but it’s only in terrorist activities that anything on this scale occurs in such a short space of time. Dunblane was the well planned slaughter of innocent children. We must remember so we can learn from it."

Tragedy is nothing new to North. His beloved wife died of cancer two years before the massacre. He promised her that he would keep their daughter safe.

North finds it difficult to hide his grief as he describes his little girl. "Sophie was very bright, cheerful and smiley," he says. "She was an absolute joy to be with. We grew very close."

The day of Sophie’s death began like any other. She got dressed in her school uniform and ate a bowl of Coco Pops for breakfast. North drove her to the kids club at Dunblane Nursery and Primary School. They said goodbye and he remembers that for the first time she didn’t give him a kiss. An hour later his daughter was dead. "When I heard the news I felt numb. I couldn’t believe what had happened."

After Sophie’s murder North became involved in the gun control movement in Britain, using his personal tragedy as a way to influence policy-makers and the general public.

"The guns that Hamilton used were legally acquired," he says. "He had licences to use them. Before the massacre, anybody in the U.K. could get a hand gun. All they needed to do was join a gun club."

After Dunblane, Britain’s Parliament introduced a total handgun ban in Britain in 1997. This led to a dramatic drop in the country’s gun murder rate. According to statistics provided by the gun control lobby group International Action Network for Small Arms, there are now less than 100 gun murders annually in the U.K. — a nation of over 54 million people. A person is five times more likely to be murdered by a gun in Canada than in Britain.

North worries that gun enthusiasts will overturn the handgun ban. "They want us to believe that Hamilton would have found another way to kill his victims if he didn’t have a gun," he says.

"This is not the case. Mass deaths are almost always caused by guns. They make it easy to kill. Hamilton would not have dreamed up this elaborate slaughter if he didn’t have the guns already. The weapons made it easy for him to walk into a classroom and mow down all these children without having to touch them, feel them or smell them."


North continues his campaign for gun control through a charity he set up called the Gun Control Network.

The organization has interacted with a number of lobby groups around the world including The Coalition for Gun Control in Canada, which was created after 14 women were shot dead by a lone gunman at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989.

North says the strength within the lobby group led to significant successes for the gun control movement in Canada, including the creation of the federal gun registration scheme, which requires gun owners to register their weapons.

Owners must also produce their firearm licence to purchase ammunition. Rigorous screening of gun owners has also been introduced to ensure they do not pose a threat to themselves or others.

North is happy with the progress the gun network has made in Britain and elsewhere but he worries that one day gun enthusiasts will find a way to overturn key gun legislation.

"The gun groups want us to believe that Hamilton would have found another way to kill his victims if he didn’t have a gun," he says.

"This is not the case. Mass deaths are almost always caused by guns. They make it easy to kill. Hamilton would not have dreamed up this elaborate slaughter if he didn’t have the guns already. The weapons made it easy for him to walk into a classroom and mow down all these children without having to touch them, feel them or smell them."

Ten years have passed since the last day North saw his daughter. Sophie would have been 15 years old last October. He finds it difficult to imagine her as a teenager. He prefers to think of her as a little girl. He has made no formal plans to commemorate his daughter’s death. All he knows is that March 13 will be an emotionally difficult day.

"I like the idea of Sophie being with me in spirit," he says. "I can still hear her saying things to me in her five-year-old voice. It makes me feel good that she is somewhere close to me, even if I can’t see her."

Georgia Hanias is a Canadian journalist and public relations consultant living in London, England.


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Link Posted: 3/12/2006 5:14:57 PM EDT
An armed cop or civilian could've stopped it.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 5:16:44 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Spade:
An armed cop or civilian could've stopped it.


Now you've gone and done it.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 5:58:52 PM EDT
That simple minded, twisted logic combined with a dem president is just one or two more Columbines away from the USA.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 6:26:46 PM EDT


North worries that gun enthusiasts will overturn the handgun ban. "They want us to believe that Hamilton would have found another way to kill his victims if he didn’t have a gun," he says.

"This is not the case. Mass deaths are almost always caused by guns. They make it easy to kill. Hamilton would not have dreamed up this elaborate slaughter if he didn’t have the guns already. The weapons made it easy for him to walk into a classroom and mow down all these children without having to touch them, feel them or smell them."




Yep, we ALL know that violent thoughts are caused by guns and nothing else. Typical liberal logic for you...
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 6:40:05 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/12/2006 6:40:46 PM EDT by TheSneak]

Originally Posted By CRC:


After Dunblane, Britain’s Parliament introduced a total handgun ban in Britain in 1997. This led to a dramatic drop in the country’s gun murder rate. According to statistics provided by the gun control lobby group International Action Network for Small Arms, there are now less than 100 gun murders annually in the U.K. — a nation of over 54 million people. A person is five times more likely to be murdered by a gun in Canada than in Britain.



Well that's an interesting statistic, but haven't the OVERALL murders been up?
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 1:02:53 PM EDT
btt
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 1:43:03 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 10mmFan:
That simple minded, twisted logic combined with a dem president is just one or two more Columbines away from the USA.



Or perhaps even a reichstag fire - but with firearms.
It is not inconceivable.
End the war on terror abroad - start it at home against "domestic extremists"
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