Here is part of an editorial, written by then-Brig editor Derek Lambie, after the Dunblane massacre of 1996.
“The senseless slaughter of the infants in Dunblane is one of those events too horrifying to comprehend. A nation still mourns the lives of sixteen young children and their teacher, it is doubtful they will ever stop grieving.
It is hard to comprehend that this has happened. It’s numbing, and still the shock has not worn off. Standing outside of one of the school gates was one of the most harrowing experiences I have ever encountered.
Our thoughts are with the families of the victims, and with the town of Dunblane. They will never forget. Never forgive. Their hurt will never ease, their loss never brought back. Words cannot express our thoughts, our emotions, our sympathies. We cannot begin to comprehend. We could never understand the great sense of loss.
Nothing can bring the children back, and for the families this grief will never go away. Forevermore, they will be hammered by the callous, cold and calculated killings at Dunblane Primary School. The hurt is too raw, the grief is too deep, the shock is too mind-numbing.”
The newspaper that contains this editorial, dated March/April 1996, has a front cover dominated by a devastating photograph of grieving parents and friends. It is sparse, and simple, because it was designed in the wake of a shock that defied words.
The shock of Dunblane was so enormous that it still serves as a touchstone in our community today, 22 years later. It is one of the reasons that we look at similar events across the Atlantic with disbelief. How can a country go through so much pain, so often? And how is it possible that nothing meaningful is ever done about it?
The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month was particularly similar to Dunblane, in several ways. The same number of school students and staff were killed: 17. And while the population of Parkland is higher than that of Dunblane, it is roughly comparable to the population of Stirling — small enough that most people in the town would know somebody directly affected by the tragedy.
After the Dunblane massacre, our country stood together to demand that nothing like it would ever be allowed to happen again. It was a powerful reminder that terrible tragedies can, and should, lead to positive change. By the end of 1997, all cartridge ammunition handguns were banned in England, Scotland and Wales. Of course, there has not been a school shooting since.
Today, hundreds of thousands of people are marching on American streets to demand that the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School leads to a similar change. Incredibly, these marches are being led by the students themselves, in a remarkable display of bravery, intelligence and confidence. Eloquent speeches at rallies have been given by children as young as 11.
It is a stunning spectacle to watch, and there is a very real chance that the scale of the campaign will lead to action on the gun violence that has plagued the US for decades. It is only right that this change should be delivered by the children and young people who have been so cruelly targeted.
No community or country should have to experience the pain and shock of an event like the Dunblane massacre. Brig supports the campaigners who are marching for their lives.