In Memory of the victims, survivors, friends, families and community whose lives were affected by the events of March 13th 1996
March 13th 1996, and lone gunman Thomas Hamilton, entered Dunblane Primary School in Scotland, armed with four hand guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. He headed for the gym and, once there, started to shoot.
Thomas Hamilton was a local man, 43 years of age and an unemployed shopkeeper. Having spent a year as a scoutmaster some years previously, Hamilton was forced to leave the movement after several complaints were received about his conduct with the boys, particularly when away at camp. Hamilton had since that time engaged himself as a private boys’ club leader, running his own camps and activities for local children, interest generated via leaflet drops in the locale and so forth. Several of which had been shut down by parental involvement and local concerns. It would later be alleged that Hamilton was an unconvicted paedophile.
That morning, upon reaching the gym, where a year one class of five and six year olds had just started their PE lesson with teacher Gwen Mayor, Hamilton had only one goal, to cause pain, injury and suffering whilst making a statement to the authorities, in retaliation for the questions over his conduct with children under his responsibility. Within approximately four minutes, fifteen small children were dead, their teacher also dead, shot six times, trying to defend them. Thomas had also shot and injured a further 17 children and teachers, the remainder of those in the gymnasium and others from nearby classrooms before turning the gun on himself. It is thought he fired 105 rounds.
The news broke on local radio and television, and parents raced to the school. 700 children were registered as attending, and Hamilton allegedly had enough ammunition to shoot them all. Champion tennis player Andy Murray was one of them, as was his brother. Emergency services raced to the scene, upon reaching the gym, all they found were the bloodied bodies of dead or wounded children, the dying and the injured being cradled by other teachers. One small boy found in a corner under the still, lifeless body of his friend, covered in blood was taken away to hospital where he was gently cleaned up. It was discovered he had not a single wound, the blood belonged to his friend, whose dead body he had hid behind in a corner whilst he listened to his classmates die. He was the only one out of 30 children to survive without a scratch.
The eventual death toll stood at 18, as another child died on the way to hospital. Some children despite horrific injuries made surprising recoveries, most had been shot several times. Britain were united in their vow, following the horrific incident of Dunblane that they would do all within their power to prevent such an incident from happening again. Today we remember those innocent children, and their teacher who died trying to protect them. As a result, the nation saw and participated in strong moves to restrict gun ownership across the country. Security was also tightened up in all schools, with CCTV cameras, security locks and access to school property restricted to designated family members and by appointment only.
From a historical point of view, as a result of the events of that chilling day in a tiny Scottish town, the country responded positively to calls for much tighter gun control across the United Kingdom. Periodic amnesties allowed unlicensed gun owners to hand in their weapons at designated police stations across the country without fear of reprisal, knives of a non-domestic nature were also accepted. New gun laws were introduced the following year which made it much harder for the population to purchase guns; vendors were also required to hold licences and check potential purchasers for a valid owners licence, now registered and distributed by the Police following application and thorough checks prior to any gun sales.
It is still possible to own a gun in the UK, but the laws surrounding such ownership is a lot stricter. Aside from occasional sporadic incidents, which number into double figures annually across the nation as fatalities, there has been only one incident of what is defined as a “mass shooting” (where three or more people are shot in one event) in the United Kingdom in the twenty years since guns were restricted, however that too falls only loosely into the term as the shootings on that occasion took place over a period of several days, with at least two of the victims being known to the perpetrator and targeted specifically because of their relationship. These figures include accidental shootings, fatalities as a result of police action, and suicides.
Please note: This is not a political statement regarding gun controls and ownership. Naked History as always remains objective on such matters. Please respect our position and the memories of the victims by refraining from using the comments section as a sounding board for your own views. There are other more appropriate forums for such discussions, we respectfully ask that you use them.