British Push For Stricter Gun Control Laws

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DUNBLANE, SCOTLAND: The massacre of 16 schoolchildren and their teacher last week by a gunman in Scotland has sparked a national debate on gun control in Britain. Thomas Hamilton killed the children and their teacher and wounded 12 others, including two other teachers, before killing himself last Wednesday. Many politicians are calling for more stringent gun laws. "We must take this as a warning that we are becoming like America and act before it is too late," said governing Conservative Party legislator David Mellor. Currently, people must be prove they have a good reason to won a gun and pose no threat to society in order to be certified to buy a gun. Applicants also must be recommended by a professional person who has known them for at least two years. But Hamilton, apparently, had no problem getting licensed to own the two .357 revolvers and two 9mm pistols he used in the killings. In all, only one percent of gun applicants were rejected for ownership in 1994. "To use a gun is not a right," legislator Alex Carlisle said. "To take proper steps to avoid the disastrous misuse of guns is a duty of government and of every sensible citizen." Guns are relatively rare in Britain where there are about 400,000 privately owned firearms among a population of 58 million. In contrast, estimates in the United States put the figure at one handgun per person.