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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 March 2006, 13:27 GMT
UK 'could see another Dunblane'
Sixteen children and a teacher were killed at Dunblane Primary School
Sixteen children and a teacher were killed at Dunblane Primary School
Britain could see a massacre similar to the one at Dunblane Primary School 10 years ago, a top police officer says.

Association of Chief Police Officers President Sir Chris Fox said tightening the UK's gun laws had made a second massacre "far more unlikely" to happen.

But he said it would be "foolish" to say it could not and added progress towards a national gun register had "not been as quick as it could be".

A gunman killed 16 pupils and a teacher at the Perthshire school in March 1996.

Vetting process

Thomas Hamilton, 43, who had broken into the school, also injured 12 other children and two teachers before killing himself.

Speaking the day before the 10th anniversary of the massacre, Sir Chris said: "People get access to weapons and go - become rogue in the way they behave, and they're very difficult to track."

But he told told Sky News' Sunday Live with Adam Boulton programme: "People who are registered as firearms owners have to go through a very stringent vetting process, which has been revamped since Dunblane."

We regard this system... as absolutely central to the safe and effective operation of the firearms licensing system
Home Affairs Select Committee

There were two main provisions in the government's 1997 National Firearms (Amendment) Act: the first was to ban handguns; the second was the national firearms database.

Accessible to the police across the country, the register would keep track of everyone who had a gun licence and those who had been judged unfit to be granted one.

But it is still not up and running.

At the moment, records are only held locally by police forces and are not available to their colleagues in other areas.

As far back as 2000 the Home Affairs Select Committee looked into the delay and said: "We are appalled that the national database of certificate holders and applications is not yet in immediate prospect, over two years after the implementation of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997.

'Betraying victims'

"We regard this system, which will allow the swift and effective exchange of information on applications made for certificates between all police forces, as absolutely central to the safe and effective operation of the firearms licensing system."

But pilot schemes of the register, known as the National Firearms Licensing Management System, in the West Midlands and Lancashire during 2004 did not go to plan.

And campaigners have accused the government of "betraying" the victims after an admission by Whitehall earlier this month that the project had been delayed again.


SEE ALSO:
Dunblane murderer 'was paranoid'
03 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Relative welcomes Dunblane move
03 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Order lifted on Dunblane papers
28 Sep 05 |  Scotland


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