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Pressure mounts for total ban on guns

Grieving Dunblane parents this week relived their anguish in the wake of the Wolverhampton stabbings and renewed their call for tighter gun laws.

Breaking their silence for the first time since the Dunblane massacre, they said that if firearms instead of a machete had been used at St Luke's Church of England school on Monday, "we would be talking about deaths instead of injuries".

The group, an injured teacher and the parents of five dead children and an injured child, spoke out as Lord Cullen's inquiry closed this week. They said the Wolverhampton incident clearly demonstrated that access to legally held weapons was an unacceptable risk for society to take. John Crozier, whose daughter Emma, aged five, died on March 13, said: "Our children paid the price of society's need to be able to target shoot. My daughter's right to live is more important than anyone's right to shoot a gun."

Pamela Ross, whose daughter Joanna, aged five, was another victim, said: "Each day we live with the loss we have suffered. Nothing in the future will ever allow us to feel our lives are complete. There will never be a point at which we can say we are coping and everything is fine, because it will never be."

Colin Campbell, QC, acting for the parents, had earlier called for a ban on "civilian ownership, possession and use of all types of guns" during his closing address to Lord Cullen's inquiry in Stirling.

Mr Campbell said it was of crucial significance that, as at Hungerford, killings were carried out with a legally held weapon. The death toll could have been hundreds if Hamilton had arrived when the assembly hall was full. Central Police's "incompetence" in failing to screen out Hamilton was partly to blame, but all licensing systems were flawed.

Michael Jones, QC, for the local authorities, made no recommendations to Lord Cullen but claimed that "conscientious" efforts by councils to stop Hamilton's school lets had been "inhibited" due to a belief that "more substantial" evidence was needed.

Iain Bonomy, QC, for the Crown, said: "The inquiry must never lose sight of the enormity of what Hamilton did. The picture we must have of those little shattered bodies, these are the matters that brought us here."

Mr Bonomy warned that in future councils might have to accept responsibility for the "accreditation they coincidentally give" to organisations using school premises.

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