In 1996, Port Arthur, in the Australian state of Tasmania, was the scene of one of the worst mass murders in Australia’s history:

His next stop is the Fox and Hounds Hotel, where he shoots several people before moving up the road to the Seascape lodge, where he takes hostages at about 3.30pm. He fires at helicopters taking his victims to hospital and exchanges fire with the police surrounding his position. By now at least 32 people are dead and more than 18 wounded. By late afternoon, a mortuary truck moves into the Port Arthur township to pick up the dead.

Australia, even back then, had tougher gun laws than the US. That’s probably why the killer had a rifle instead of a less accurate hand gun.

In Scotland, another crazy person attacked a school:

On March 13, 1996, Thomas Hamilton, 43, left his home at 7 Kent Road in Dunblane, Scotland, with only one thing in mind — murder. At about 9:30 a.m., he drove to the Dunblane Primary School with a pair of pliers, four handguns and more than 700 rounds of ammunition. Once there, he cut the telephone wires on a nearby pole and then proceeded with weapons in hand to a side entrance of the school.

Hamilton burst into the assembly hall, where a class of 5- and 6-year-old children was having gym lessons and opened fire. He first shot at several of the teachers. Hamilton then turned his guns on the frightened children and shot at them as they tried to scramble to safety under chairs and inside closets. Screams echoed through the gymnasium as tiny bodies sunk to the floor in pools of blood.

Hamilton momentarily stepped outside the gym into a hallway where there were other classrooms and open fired again. Several more people were struck down before Hamilton returned to the gym and began shooting again. He then put the gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger. He died instantaneously, leaving behind a ghastly trail of death and devastation.

The brutal rampage left 17 people murdered, including one teacher and 16 children. Another 17 would survive the horrifying incident but be haunted with nightmares for the rest of their lives. The sleepy, rural town was forever changed by the horrors of that day. It was considered one of the deadliest massacres in recent history.

Families of the victims and community residents were shocked by the senseless slaughter that claimed so many innocent lives and scarred the survivors, physically and emotionally. According to John Smith’s March 1996 article for The People, of the thousands of cards sent to the school to commemorate those who had died, one best described what was on most people’s minds, “Why them! Why Them!” Unfortunately, the only one who could answer the question was dead.

Of course, it could have been worse. Remember Beslan? 344 people died in an organized terrorist attack on a school.