14:06 GMT12 April 2021
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    On 13 March 1996, tragedy struck the Stirlingshire town when a gunman murdered 16 children and their teacher at Dunblane Primary School with a legal firearm. The incident saw a widespread campaign to see handguns banned in the UK.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to the victims of the Dunblane Massacre on Saturday, marking 25 years since Britain's worst mass shooting.

    “This day, 25 years ago, was one of the darkest and most heartbreaking in Scotland’s history," Sturgeon wrote on Twitter.
    “Thinking today of 16 little children, their teacher and all those who still live with the pain."

    ​UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also paid his respects, saying “we must never forget” the victims of Dunblane.

    “The brutal murder of 16 primary school children and their teacher in Dunblane 25 years ago", he wrote on Twitter.

    ​Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross marked the tragic event by issuing a statement on social media remembering the victims.

    “The painful memories of this heartbreaking day remain with us all and my thoughts go out to all those commemorating lost loved ones today," he wrote. 

    ​A spokesperson for Police Scotland also posted a tribute saying that their "deepest sympathies are with all of those affected by this horrific incident. Not just today, but always."

    ​While attending church and religious gatherings are currently prohibited amid the current coronavirus restrictions, Rev Colin Renwick, minister at Dunblane Cathedral, will hold a virtual worship on Sunday in memory of the victims.

    “Many people in Dunblane will be marking this particular anniversary as they mark March 13 every year – quietly, privately and with respect for those who lost their lives in the tragedy of 25 years ago," Renwick said: 

    He added that they will "also be remembering those whose grief will always be deepest, and the people who still, in one way or another, bear scars."

    “Some will light a candle in their home, spending time in quiet reflection, prayer and remembering."

    Renwick continued saying that for those who lost someone in the tragedy, "every day will be one of remembering in some way, and the anniversaries that will be just as poignant for them will be the birthdays of those they have lost, as they ponder what might have been."

    “Sadly, because of restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, Dunblane Cathedral, in common with all church buildings and other historic properties, is currently closed, and worship is being held online."

    The prayers taking place during the Dunblane Cathedral’s online service will include words written in memorial to the tragedy in the Cathedral's south aisle: “Hear the Truth. Unless your hearts are changed and you become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven at all.”

    Sixteen children and their teacher Gwen Mayor were shot dead by gunman Thomas Hamilton, 43, after he opened fire on a gym class at Dunblane Primary School on 13 March.

    The massacre in the Perthshire town led to the emergence of the Snowdrop Campaign, a national effort to ban handguns in the UK, which led to the introduction of some of the world's strictest firearms regulations.

    Tags:
    Nicola Sturgeon, Boris Johnson, Scotland, Handguns
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