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Last Updated: Tuesday April 17 2007 11:50 GMT

Shootings in America - your questions answered

Ambulance outside Virginia Tech University

Thirty three people have died in a shooting at a university in America. Police are looking into how it happened.

Lots of people are shocked and worried about this story, so here are some answers to questions you might be thinking about.

Could this happen in the UK?

Most schools in the UK have some sort of security system where visitors have to wear badges and sign in.

There is usually a receptionist on the desk and lots of schools in busy areas have special locks the receptionist has to open to let you in.

Many also have CCTV cameras to check on playgrounds and corridors, and are surrounded by high fences and walls with barbed wire on top.

Should I be worried?

Remember, your school is still one of the safest places to be. Shootings like the one in Virginia make the news but that's because they're very unusual. They're more common in America where the laws about owning guns are very different to the UK.

In the UK there have been no school shootings during the years you've been at school and there's no reason to think there will be.

And the most dangerous sorts of gun have been banned. Hand guns like the one the gunman had in the Virginia shooting are banned in the UK.

Is it hard for people to get guns in the UK?

The situation is completely different in America compared with Britain. It's thought there are around 250 million guns in America and it's much easier to buy one there.

If you're 18 or older you can buy a gun from a recognised dealer if you have a computerised background check. But if you buy one from a non-registered dealer you don't need to be checked.

The American Constitution, which sets out the country's rights and freedoms, says people are allowed to "keep and bear arms".

In Britain it's much harder to get a gun - which means a tragedy like this is much less likely to occur in the UK.

You need to have a licence to own a gun, and getting a licence can take a very long time. You need to prove you will store your gun properly, and give the police lots of information about yourself, including your medical records. And two people have to tell the police they think you're a good person to own a gun.