Toy gun amnesty planned for Dunblane anniversary

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The Independent Online
A village school in Berkshire is planning to ask its pupils, aged five to 11, to hand in their plastic guns and knives, on the first anniversary of the Dunblane massacre.

The toy amnesty, the first of its kind in this country, was approved at a meeting of the governors at Wraysbury Combined School in Wraysbury, Berkshire. The idea of of the local vicar, John Harper, the amnesty was suggested after the church council met to discuss the moral manifesto of Frances Lawrence, widow of murdered London headmaster, Philip Lawrence.

Pupils will be expected to scour their houses, lofts, playrooms and gardens for any toy weapons. Adults elsewhere may raise their eyebrows at such an amnesty which is likely to be viewed as taking the fallout from Dunblane too far.

It is also not proven whether such amnesties ever really prevent crime. Last year, following Mr Lawrence's stabbing, the Daily Mirror ran a successful month-long "Save A Life, Bin That Knife" campaign which saw the collection of 40,000 blades. However, an official guns amnesty in the wake of Dunblane was less successful and has not cut down shootings.

Parents will be asked by Roy Harvey, Wraysbury's headmaster, for their reaction to the scheme and if they have no overwhelming objection, the 300 children at the school will be invited to hand over toy guns, swords and knives. Special plastic dustbins will be set out to collect the toys in the school playground on the day after the first anniversary of the Dunblane tragedy, in which 16 children and their teacher were gunned down by Thomas Hamilton, on 14 March.

Just as in amnesties involving real weapons, police will be asked to dispose of the toys left by the Wraysbury children. Mr Harper said: "The purpose is to encourage children to be aware of the whole issue of weapons." He added: "I think it is good to stimulate thinking in the minds of children about what weapons can do and whether it is good to play with pretend weapons."

The school's move comes as politicians at Westminster continue to argue over the Government's Firearms Bill, due to return to the Commons from the Lords shortly. Tory peers tried to demand extra compensation, on top of the Government's offer of pounds 150m, for gun owners.