A brief history of U.K. massacres

March 16, 2013 6:30 pm

20 mass shooting every year has become the average according to statistics in the U.S. With the States becoming an open field for revenge and rage, and gun control outrageously loose, people have connected spree killings with America for a while now. But the United Kingdom has also had its fair share of massacres through the years.

Michael RyanMichael Ryan, 27 years old, was unemployed once again and furious. On the 19th of August,  1987, he found himself at a popular recreational area in Savernake Forest, in Hungerford,  where a family were enjoying a summer day. Armed with a Type 56 assault rifle, an M1 Carbine and a Beretta semi-automatic pistol Ryan found his first victim having a picnic with her two children. He shot the mother thirteen times in the back and left the kids alone in her Nissan Micra. After that, he made his next stop at a petrol station on the A4 and after an unsuccessful attempt to kill the wife of the owner drove to his home. He then proceeded to shoot his two dogs, two neighbours, set his place on fire and then continued on towards the towns common. He kept up his rampage walking and firing, injuring and killing several people when his mother appeared. She pushed her way through the crowds shouting “Why are you doing this?”, and finally approached him trying in vain to reason with him. He didn’t move. He heard her say “Don’t shoot me”, but this is exactly what he did, shooting her four times. He continued his way while the police were unarmed and unable to act.

With an average of one person killed per minute, lost in his blurred world, Michael Ryan reached the weekly market set up along High Street, where he found easy targets and kept shooting all the way. He ended up at his old school, an empty building at the time due to the summer holidays, where he was surrounded by the police and realised his time was up. While negotiating for his surrendered, he wanted to know if he had killed his mother, saying it was a mistake, and asked for a proper burial for his two dogs. He had killed 16 people on his way, but none of them mattered. Several hours before committing suicide, he claimed that it all felt like a bad dream.

In 1988, Michael Stone, a volunteer in the Ulster Defence Association, Northern Ireland’s biggest paramilitary group , intent on killing republicans,  attended the paramilitary funeral of three IRA members, held at the Milltown cemetery. He killed three people and injured sixty before the enraged mourners began beating him. He was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released with license under the Belfast Agreement. From then he was charged for other attempted murders and returned to jail for sixteen years imprisonment.

The deadliest school massacre in the history of the United Kingdom took place on the 13th of March, 1996, in Dunblane. 43 year old Thomas Hamilton is described as a disturbed man who ordered the boys at summer camps to strip and run around the swimming pool and had been investigated for inappropriate behaviour and pedophilia. A few days before the massacre he had posted letters explaining his grievances to BBC Scotland and the enemies he thought had labeled him a pervert, including his anger towards those who dismissed him from his Scouts team when he was 22. The letters explain partly his decision on starting the school killing spree.  He was carrying two pistols and two revolvers when he entered the Dunblane Primary School. The account was 17 deaths and 15 injured. Later, he killed himself while still in the school. In response to the massacre, security in schools and gun control got tighter, and a ban of all cartridge ammunition handguns was introduced.

London Nail BombThe “London Nail Bomber”, David Copeland, was 23 when he started his bombing spree in April 1999. From an early age he had feared he was gay and was embarrassed as he had previously only had one girlfriend and used prostitutes throughout his life. After his arrest he admitted to having sadistic dreams when he was a child and had intentions of starting a racial war.  At the age of 21 he joined the far right British-National Party, and then the National Socialist Movement, of which he became the regional leader for Hampshire. A few weeks after and while he had already visited a doctor admitting that he felt he was losing his mind he started the bombing campaign. As he later claimed, his aim was political and his targets were black, Bangladeshi and gay communities. The bombs, which were packed with four-inch nails around them were placed in different areas during a three week time period, killed three people and injured 139. After his attack he was diagnosed  with paranoid schizophrenia and was convicted of murder.

The most recent killing spree occurred in 2010 in Cumbria where twelve people were killed and eleven were injured. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver of 52 years, drove from his home on the 2nd of June to his brother’s house whom he killed by shooting him eleven times. Derrick Bird

He then went to Frizington, where he killed the family solicitor and afterwards drove to Whitehaven shooting colleagues. He then moved on to rural Cumbria, opening fire at random people and shortly after these actions his body was found in a wooded area along with a rifle. His believed motives vary, including speculation that he was involved in a family dispute over his gather’s will, speculation that might explain the killer targeting his brother and their solicitor.

While most of these people were mentally unstable, mass murdering is still one of the greater mysteries on psychology grounds. Some call it amok, some blame their upbringing, while some others blame the voices in their heads and many of them believe these people to be mentally unfit. But, according to statistics, mass murderers are rarely mentally ill. They have similar characteristics such as being introverts, aggressive or lonely. Usually, they are people feeling rejection by everyone around them , have nothing to lose and want to take revenge on people including family, co-workers and even society as a whole. This is what appears to be the main reason specialists claim.

But if psychology doesn’t have the answer or solution, then maybe gun control should have one?

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