Dunblane massacre: Texas school shooting sparks calls for reform similar to those following UK mass shootings

After at least 21 people were killed in a Texas school shooting, comparisons are being drawn between US and UK reactions following mass shootings, particularly the laws following the Dunblane massacre.

The Dunblane Cemetery memorial garden features a fountain and a commemorative plaque, where the names of the victims are listed in the order they were read out by the police officer that night. Photo: Michael Gillen.
The Dunblane Cemetery memorial garden features a fountain and a commemorative plaque, where the names of the victims are listed in the order they were read out by the police officer that night. Photo: Michael Gillen.

A mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas has left nineteen children between the ages of seven and 10 and two adults dead. This school shooting comes just ten days after 10 people were killed in a mass shooting in New York.

The tragedy has sparked fresh calls for stricter gun regulations in the United States, with President Biden asking “why do we keep letting this happen?” In the UK, parallels are being drawn between the UK reaction to the Dunblane massacre and the legislation that followed. Here’s a look at the effect that the Dunblane shooting had on gun laws in the UK.

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When was the Dunblane shooting?

The Dunblane massacre took place on March 13th, 1996, in Dunblane Primary School near Stirling. It was and remains to this day the deadliest mass shooting in British history.

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What happened in Dunblane?

Sixteen pupils, aged five and six years old, and one 45-year-old teacher were killed, while fifteen other people were injured. The shooter took his own life before he could be apprehended by police.

The Dunblane Memorial Window in the Church of the Holy Family was created in memory of the victims. Photo: Michael Gillen.

The weapons the gunman used were bought and owned legally, sparking a nationwide movement to take action against gun violence. The massacre in the Stirlingshire town shocked the nation and ultimately led to the UK enforcing some of the strictest firearms legislation in the world.

By the end of 1997, Parliament had banned private ownership of most handguns, following on from measures taken after the Hungerford killings in 1987, where sixteen people were killed. Semi-automatic weapons were also banned and mandatory registration was introduced for shotgun owners.

School shootings in the UK since Dunblane

Since the Dunblane shooting in 1996 and the following legislation, there have been no school shootings in the UK. In terms of mass shootings in general, there have been just two since Dunblane, in Plymouth in 2021 and Cumbria in 2010.

Families of those killed in Dunblane spoke about the change in the British legal system in 2018, after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 people died in the Valentine’s Day massacre.

“We want you to know that change can happen. It won’t be easy, but continue to remind everybody of what happened at your school and the devastation caused by just one person and just one legally-owned gun,” the families said in a video. “Never let anyone forget. There will be attempts to to divide you, to deflect you and doubtless to intimidate you, but you’ve already shown great wisdom and strength.

“We wish you more of that wisdom and strength for this toughest of tasks, one that will be so important in order to spare your fellow Americans having to suffer the way you have. Wherever you march, whenever you protest, however you campaign for a more sensible approach to gun ownership, we will be there with you in spirit.”

Dunblane families have consistently shown up in support of American victims of shootings and their families, with some even protesting outside the US Consulate in Edinburgh in 2018 following the Parkland shooting.

How many school shootings in America?

In 2022 so far, there have already been 27 school shootings. Since 1970, the United States has had 2,032 school shootings.

Following the most recent shooting in Texas on Tuesday May 24th, calls are being made once again for stricter gun regulations in the United States, with comparisons being drawn with Dunblane in the UK and other shootings that sparked legal change in countries around the world.

Additional reporting by PA.

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