Dunblane lawyer backs gun ban

The lawyer representing the families of deceased and injured children of Dunblane has called for a radical change in the law, with a complete ban on private ownership of handguns.

Speaking just before the publication of the Cullen Report on the Dunblane massacre, Peter Watson, head of litigation at Levy & McRae, said his personal views on gun ownership had been formed through his involvement with the victims of the tragedy.

“I had no views on gun ownership ’til I became the lawyer for the victims of Dunblane,” he said. “My views were influenced extensively by the evidence given to the inquiry.”

Now Watson would like to see a complete ban on the private ownership of handguns, whether held at home or in a club, and for the regulation of other forms of sporting activities involving guns so they are not privately held by any individual, with controlled exceptions.

He pointed out that the children in Dunblane were killed by a lawfully held weapon and that the killer, Thomas Hamilton, was licensed to hold and use firearms.

“There needs to be a change in culture,” he said. “There should no longer be a right to own a gun, but rather a privilege extended to those who serve us, such as the police and armed services.”

Watson added: “Is this right to life not the most fundamental right in the laws and constitutions of all developed nations? Is it not time to raise the level of debate from the selfish arguments of those who insist on owning guns and ask others to pay the cost this imposes?”

He predicted that the Cullen Report, which follows a seven-week inquiry into the massacre and is expected to be completed by the end of the month, would lead to a change in the law.

Watson spoke out during a week when the British Association for Shooting and Conservation was lobbying Tory MPs at the Conservative party conference in Bournemouth not to ban handguns. But Home Secretary Michael Howard avoided mentioning the issue in his law and order address to the conference.