The survivors of the last school shooting in the UK have penned a letter to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a lone gunman killed 17 students and staff members in a shooting last month.
The British survivors sent their letter on the 22nd anniversary of the school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland, where 16 first-grade students and one teacher were killed. They expressed sympathy for the students in Parkland, Florida, and urged them to keep up their fight for stricter gun control.
“We have watched and listened with tremendous admiration as you have spoken out for what you believe should happen now,” they wrote. “…We want you to know that change can happen.”
The survivors also said they will light 17 candles on Tuesday – in honour of those who died in Dunblane, and in remembrance of those who died in Parkland.
The Dunblane and Parkland shootings bear striking similarities: Both were carried out by one man with a gun, and both resulted in 17 deaths. Both sparked outrage in their respective countries, as well as calls for gun safety reform.
In Scotland, at least, those calls were effective: Just over a year after the shooting, the UK banned all private handguns completely. There has not been a single school shooting since.
Florida shooting – in pictures
Tuesday’s letter – organised by Mick North, the father of a 5-year-old victim and a prominent figure in the UK campaign to ban guns – urges the Parkland students not to stop fighting for change.
“Continue to remind everyone of exactly what happened at your school and of the devastation caused by just one person with one legally-owned gun,” the letter reads. “Never let anyone forget.”
The Parkland students’ activism has already sparked some reforms, including the passage of a modest gun control bill in the Florida state legislature. The students have also met with President Donald Trump for a listening session in the White House, and organised two nationwide protests in favour of gun control.
But the efforts have been stalled by resistance from the National Rifle Association – a powerful pro-gun lobbying group – and by Republicans like Mr Trump, who prefers arming teachers to placing restrictions on guns.
In the letter, the Dunblane survivors pledge their support to the Parkland students’ effort, no matter how long as it takes.
“We wish you more of that wisdom and strength for this toughest of tasks, one that will be so important in order to spare more of your fellow Americans from having to suffer the way you have,” they write.
“Wherever you march, whenever you protest, however you campaign for a more sensible approach to gun ownership we will be there with you in spirit.”