BLACKBURN MP Jack Straw believes the total handgun ban in mainland Britain he introduced as Home Secretary following the Dunblane Massacre has permanently reduced the possibility of such mass shootings in this country.
Speaking after the Connecticut killings on Friday, he said the 1996 killing of 16 children and an adult in the Scottish town by Thomas Hamilton before he committed suicide, permanently changed British opinions on firearms’ ownership.
Mr Straw said he hoped that the massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Sandy Hook elementary school in Newton might similarly change attitudes in America leading to tougher gun controls. He added: “But I am not holding my breath.”
John Major’s Conservative government introduced a partial ban on handguns, with the exception of .22 calibre single-shot weapons, only after local MP and Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth threatened to resign if action was not taken.
Following Labour’s 1997 General Election landslide, Mr Straw completed the ban, outlawing the remaining .22 cartridge handguns in England, Scotland and Wales, and leaving only muzzle-loading historic handguns and certain oversized sporting handguns legal.
Mr Straw said yesterday: “I am relieved that I was able to ban all handguns.
“I believe it will make a repeat of Dunblane or Connecticut in this country much less likely in the future.
“I would like to think that the Connecticut massacre will change US thinking on firearms and lead to tighter controls, as with Dunblane, but I am not holding my breath.
“The more you tighten the law, the more you reduce the risk. I think people feel much happier and safer here now and I don’t think this will ever change.
“I still remember taking my young children into a supermarket for food in America and seeing a rack of assault rifles.
“The US is very different from Britain with its love affair with guns.”