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UK News Father of girl killed in Dunblane massacre says Boris Johnson 'totally unsuitable' to be PM

13:45  09 december  2019
13:45  09 december  2019 Source:   scotsman.com

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A dad of a five-year-old girl killed in the Dunblane massacre has said Boris Johnson's past comments on gun control make him "totally unsuitable" to be Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson et al. sitting at a table in front of a laptop © Provided by The Scotsman

Dr Mick North's daughter Sophie was killed in the primary school shooting in 1996 - which claimed 17 lives.

He spoke out after it emerged Mr Johnson had likened the confiscation of handguns in the wake of the shootings to "nanny confiscating toys" such as model train sets and stamp collections.

In an article published in a Canadian magazine in 1997, Mr Johnson also compared the seizures to "one of those vast Indian programmes of compulsory vasectomy".

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READ MORE: Dunblane: Relatives remember victims of massacre 20 years onMr North, who continues to be involved in gun control issues, said he had known about the future Prime Minister's stance at the time due to other newspaper columns he had written.

Speaking to The Herald he said: "Nevertheless, I'm still appalled by the attitude reflected by his words - an attitude that, to my mind, makes him totally unsuitable to be the UK's Prime Minister.

"None of the views Johnson expressed in the past should be viewed in isolation, excused as one-off errors of judgment or just as 'Boris being Boris'.

"They are part of a pattern that reflects exactly the kind of unsympathetic person he is."

Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 children and their teacher at Dunblane Primary School, near Stirling, in March 1996, before killing himself in the deadliest mass shooting in British history.

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The massacre led to the outlawing of most private handguns.

In an article in September 1997, Mr Johnson wrote about watching gun owners hand in their weapons to a police station in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

In his article, for a Canadian magazine, he wrote: "The men - and they are virtually all men - come in two at a time.

"They have aluminium suitcases, safes, plastic bags and set expressions.

"Nanny is confiscating their toys.

"It is like one of those vast Indian programmes of compulsory vasectomy.

"It is as if the state had decided to round up all the model train sets or the stamp collections, an operation causing immense distress to thousands of innocent enthusiasts, and just about as pointless.

"Thanks to a sweeping ban on handguns introduced here in the wake of the Dunblane, Scotland, massacre of schoolchildren last year, law-abiding gun-owners are now handing over their weapons here at a rate of 50 to 60 a day.

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"An entire pastime will have been exterminated.

"Britain will be the only country in the world where it is forbidden to practise for an Olympic sport.

"The British taxpayers will have to cough up about £1 billion in compensation; and still the shooters will receive 25 per cent less than the full value of any improvements to their weapons."

His article concluded: "It is no use the shooters protesting this will do nothing about the myriad of illegal weapons, or legal shotguns; or that the existing law should have ensured guns were taken away from Thomas Hamilton, the loner who killed 16 small children in a moment of madness at Dunblane last March.

"The owners of all the 160,000 handguns are penalised for the dementia of a couple of their number, and because no one, in the current climate, dare speak for them."

The article was highlighted last week by the pro-Labour website Red Roar.

Mr North said he became aware of Mr Johnson's other writings on gun control shortly after the shootings.

He said: "Whilst he had a right to have his own opinions about gun legislation, the tone of what he said was distasteful and disparaging with no empathy whatsoever with the victims and their families, indeed with the public in general.

"It is the shallowness to the writing, and not a care for anyone who was directly involved."

Referring to the article, Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said: "I strongly disagree with these views expressed some 22 years ago.

"The events in Dunblane were beyond all of our nightmares and even now the memory of those weeks is still strong.

"As a father then of two young sons, one of whom started in primary school shortly after those events, I vividly recall the concern of all parents.

"The banning of hand guns gave people the reassurance they needed.

"I supported it at the time and it has stood the test of time since."

Last week, the SNP said the gun control comments made it "clearer than ever that Boris Johnson is utterly unfit to lead the country".

The UK Conservative Party has been approached for comment.

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