As I sign off from this ever more surreal debate about firearms legislation, I think I'll leave the last word to our current First Minister, or more specifically his contributions to the post-Dunblane parliamentary debates way back in 1996 -
"People were, rightly, touched by the Dunblane tragedy and that feeling has hardened into a determination to try to prevent that sort of tragedy from happening again. Everyone who argues that case realises that there can be no absolute guarantees, but we can move the boundary somewhat and make it less likely that such a tragedy will happen again. That makes the case for a complete ban on handguns."
"No system of checking, however rigorous, can prevent every unsuitable person from gaining access to guns. It has been said in the debate that the police made mistakes, as if that were an argument against a complete ban on the civilian use of handguns. The fact that the police make mistakes is one of the arguments for such a ban. No system of checking is foolproof and any system that depends on people is essentially flawed in that human beings, including the police, make mistakes."
"We should start from the principle that no one should own a handgun and only then should we discuss the exceptions. The position adopted by the Japanese in this respect is enlightening. In that whole country, there are 58 handgun licences. Hon. Members will be aware of the Home Office statistics, which point to some correlation between the number of legal firearms in circulation and the incidence of firearm homicide."
"The hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith), in an interesting speech, made the reasonable point that one cannot prove anything absolutely through international comparisons. One comparison should, however, be introduced into the debate. In the United States, which has some of the most lax gun legislation, there are 27 times as many firearm killings per million than in the United Kingdom. In Japan, where the basic principle is no handguns, the killings number one eighth of the UK total. For all the differences in culture and experience in the international comparisons, those figures are very compelling."
"If any lesson is to be learnt from Thomas Hamilton's actions, it is surely that rapid-fire weapons are the most deadly. Hamilton fired a hail of 106 bullets in a matter of seconds--that damage from a handgun should surely never be allowed again. Of course hon. Members have a point when they say that a madman could take a machete or another weapon and try to inflict damage, but few other weapons can inflict the carnage of a rapid-fire handgun."
Not for the first (or last) time, Alex Salmond says just about everything I would ever want to say - and he says it far, far better.