On Wednesday 13 March 1996, about 8.15 am Thomas Hamilton was seen by a neighbour to be scraping ice off a white van outside his home at 7 Kent Road, Stirling. They had a normal conversation. Some time later he drove off in the van in the direction of Dunblane. By 9.40 am at Dunblane Primary School, Gwen Mayor and fifteen children lay dead, a sixteenth child to be found dead on arrival at Stirling Royal Infirmary.
By 27 February the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 received Royal Assent. Under part 1 of the Act, section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 (prohibiting automatic and assault weapons) was amended to prohibit firearms with a barrel length of less than 30 cms; and the possession of small calibre pistols was largely confined to pistol clubs. Under part 3 of the Act, the grant and revocation of firearms certificates was tightened.
In 2002 the Home Office published ‘Firearms Law – Guidance to the Police’ with a view to capturing all of the firearms legislation and procuring seamless practice in relation to firearms certification between police services.
On Friday 14 December 2012, 3,500 miles from Dunblane, Adam Lanza from Newtown, Connecticut kills 26 staff and children at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Today, Senator Joe Manchin (West Virginia), the National Rifle Association pro-gun rights activist, concedes for the first time that now ‘everything should be on the table’ concerning gun control.
Self-loading and assault weapons have no place in civil society in the hands of members of the public. The measure of a civilised society is not the ‘protection of rights to weapons’ but the protection of the vulnerable – those who may use, and those against whom use may be made, of weapons intended for nothing more than killing.