Now, 22 years on from the Dunblane massacre, survivors of the UK’s deadliest mass shooting have sent a message of support to victims of gun violence in the United States.
In an open letter released yesterday to mark the anniversary, survivors and relatives of those who died in the 1996 shooting expressed their solidarity with students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 people were killed on February 14.
The letter was accompanied by a YouTube video featuring siblings and parents of those killed reading from the statement which expressed “tremendous admiration” for the American students who have spoken out on gun control since the shooting last month.
Sixteen children aged just five and six died along with their teacher, Gwen Taylor, when gunman Thomas Hamilton opened fire on a gym class at Dunblane Primary School on March 13, 1996.
The massacre in the Stirlingshire town led to the UK enforcing some of the strictest firearms legislation in the world.
The open letter, drafted by Mick North, whose five-year-old daughter Sophie died at Dunblane, wished the US students “wisdom and strength” for their campaign against gun violence.
Describing how people in the town felt compelled to take action after the 1996 massacre, the signatories said: “The gunman owned legal weapons and it was so easy for him to obtain these legal weapons and, like you, we vowed to do something about it.
“Most politicians listened and acted, laws were changed, handguns were banned and the level of gun violence in Britain is now one of the lowest in the world. There have been no more school shootings.
“We persuaded British lawmakers not to be swayed by the vested interests of the gun lobby, we asked them to put public safety first and to heed the will of the majority of the British people.”
The shootings in the US have led to a public outcry, with students meeting President Donald Trump and organising marches demanding tighter gun controls.
The Dunblane survivors and relatives said: “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.
“Never let anyone forget. There will be attempts 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.”
They also offered their “total support” for the March for Our Lives gun-control rally on March 24 in the US.
Locals in Dunblane were last night expected to light 17 candles to remember those who lost their lives in the 1996 massacre.