Parents of victims issue emotional
pleas over firearms
THE failure of Central
Scotland Police to investigate properly Thomas
Hamilton's background and their failure to take away
his guns amounted to "dereliction of
duty of the highest order," counsel for the families of the dead
children said yesterday.
QC, suggested the massacre
of 16 children and their teacher in Dunblane primary school
might not have happened if the police had
done their duty.
He told the Cullen
Inquiry: "Good reasons for the revocation or refusal
of his licence abounded. Very sadly, it is clear they were ignored
and but for the firearms department's culpable
failure to remove these weapons, this terrible tragedy would not have
Campbell accused the former chief constable,
McMurdo, who rubber-stamped Hamilton's
last licence in 1995 which armed him for the massacre,
of having exercised extremely poor judgement in rejecting a memo
detailing concerns about Hamilton.
Campbell said Mr McMurdo,
now assistant chief inspector of constabulary, had insisted during
his evidence there were no "contra indicators" about Mr
McMurdo's competence and the culture and
ethos prevalent in the firearms department
of Central Scotland Police."
said both Mr McMurdo and a senior subordinate
had acted "in accordance with the general custom and practice
in the department - namely that in the absence of something incontrovertible
such as a serious conviction or a pending case - the police
would not take the responsibility, they would not even begin to exercise
the discretion entrusted to them by parliament of evaluating known
said Mr Campbell, could only be the result
of a slack and irresponsible culture built up over the years in which
the firearms licensing system operated on
a purely administrative basis, by administrators unwilling to take
decisions on which public safety depended.
Campbell said the warning signs about Hamilton
were ignored. "The overall system, such as it was,
was riddled with defects and inadequacies. Many played a contributory
system was woefully inadequate in failing to give a complete picture
of Hamilton. Worryingly, Mr McMurdo
did not see why a complete picture was necessary. What seems
to have happened is that isolated incidents were considered on their
own and then forgotten, or at least ignored, when further incidents
the families of six of the children killed or injured by Hamilton
issued an impassioned plea for the gun lobby
to be ignored over the introduction of a virtual ban on the private
ownership of firearms.
struggling to hold their composure, the families said their children
had paid the ultimate price for people being licensed to hold guns.
Ross, the mother of Joanna, five, who was killed in
the massacre, read a prepared statement
which said: "Many people have said we have shown extraordinary
courage and dignity and have asked how we have begun to cope.
us, the simple answer is that we are only beginning to learn to live
with the reality of what has devastated our lives. Each day
we live with the loss we have suffered, and nothing in future will
ever allow us to feel that our lives are complete."
will never be a point at which we can say we are coping and everything
is fine again, because it never will be. We will never get over
it, and we just need the strength to live with it for the rest of
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