Parents seek an end to gun ownership

18th October 1996 at 01:00
Parents of children killed and injured in the Dunblane massacre broadly welcomed Lord Cullen's recommendations on school security and the vetting of adults working with children.

Speaking at a press conference an hour after publication of the Cullen report Martyn Dunn, whose daughter Charlotte was killed, said: "We welcome these two sections of Lord Cullen's report."

Kenny Ross, father of Joanna, who also died in Thomas Hamilton's killing spree, welcomed the Government's pledge that money would be made available to improve school security. He said: "It's a difficult issue because you will never make any school completely secure. You can't lock children up for eight hours at a time."

He welcomed Lord Cullen's suggestion that individuals working with children should be carefully vetted about previous convictions, and that clubs and groups for youngsters should be accredited.

The main focus of parents' concern was gun control. They made it clear that they thought neither Lord Cullen nor the Government had gone far enough and they repeated their call for a complete ban on handguns.

Ann Pearston, of the Snowdrop campaign, said that the .22 calibre handguns which would still be legal were the "most popular weapon for killing" in the United States.

Teacher Eileen Harrild, who was one of the wounded, said she had not had time to read the whole report.

The Educational Institute of Scotland, of which the Dunblane teacher who died in the shooting, Gwen Mayor, was a member, welcomed the developments on school security and vetting which were in line with its submission to Lord Cullen. "Teachers are already very familiar with the idea of vetting," Ken Wimbor, assistant secretary, said. He hoped councils would be provided with funding for safety improvements in schools.

Elizabeth Maginnis, education spokeswoman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and education convener in Edinburgh, said: "The Government must not shirk its own responsibility in ensuring that local authorities, who are already overstretched, are given the financial and other support they need to enable them to do this."

Margaret Doran, head of schools at Stirling council, the authority responsible for Dunblane primary, welcomed the Government's response to the report, but said the cost of implementing the measures would be more than its entire capital budget for schools of Pounds 575,000.

"Stirling council has already embarked on this route. The report recognises that there is an inherent danger in attempting to solve school security problems by simply installing cameras and access control systems without considering the layout of the school and whether such systems are appropriate.

"Staff, pupils, parents and the wider community must feel ownership of a safety or security policy, otherwise systems will simply fall into disuse and the potential security risk will have returned."

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