Andy Murray, who survived childhood gun violence, angered by Uvalde shooting


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Even now, so many years later, what Andy Murray went through as a child comes back in stark relief every time there’s a school shooting.

The shooting, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, Tex., prompted Murray, now a 35-year-old father of four, to speak out. The tennis star was a 9-year-old student in March 1996 at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland when a gunman killed 16 of his fellow students and a teacher before killing himself.

“It’s unbelievably upsetting and it makes you angry,” Murray, who is playing in the Surbiton Trophy grass-court tournament, said of the Uvalde shooting (via the BBC). “I think there’s been over 200 mass shootings in America this year and nothing changes. I can’t understand that. … My feeling is that surely at some stage you do something different. You can’t keep approaching the problem by buying more guns and having more guns in the country. I don’t see how that solves it.

“But I could be wrong. Let’s maybe try something different and see if you get a different outcome.”

The United Kingdom acted after Dunblane, the deadliest mass shooting in modern British history, by enacting tough gun laws. Since then, it has experienced no mass-casualty shootings.

“I heard something on the radio the other day, and it was a child from that [Uvalde] school,” Murray said. “I experienced a similar thing when I was at Dunblane, a teacher coming out and waving all of the children under tables and telling them to go and hide. And it was a kid telling exactly the same story about how she survived it.

“They were saying that they go through these drills, as young children. … How? How is that normal that children should be having to go through drills, in case someone comes into a school with a gun?”

An elementary school massacre spurred tighter gun control in the U.K.

Murray and his brother Jamie, also a Dunblane student, had previously shared a car with Thomas Hamilton, the shooter, and attended children’s clubs at which he was present. Dunblane, like Uvalde, is a small, close-knit community of less than 10,000.

The Murray boys were in class when Hamilton, armed with four handguns, burst into the gym and began shooting students before killing himself. Murray opened up about the about the trauma he experienced a few years ago in a 2019 Amazon Prime documentary, “Andy Murray: Resurfacing.” (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

“You asked me a while ago why tennis was important to me,” he told filmmaker Olivia Cappuccini in the documentary. “Obviously, I had the thing that happened at Dunblane when I was around 9. I am sure for all the kids there it would be difficult for different reasons. The fact we knew the guy, we went to his kids club, he had been in our car, we had driven and dropped him off at train stations and things.”

His mother described a scene that is terribly familiar to parents. “Andy’s class had been on their way to the gym,” Judy Murray told the Radio Times (via the Guardian) in 2014. “That’s how close he was to what happened. They heard the noise and someone went ahead to investigate. They came back and told all the kids to go to the headmaster’s study and the deputy head’s study.

“They were told to sit down below the windows, and they were singing songs. The teachers and dinner ladies did an amazing job, containing all these children, feeding them, and getting them out without them being aware of what had happened. I don’t know how they managed it.”

Judy Murray was working at the family’s toy shop when she learned of the shooting and headed straight for the school. “I was driving there thinking I might not see my children again. There were too many cars on the road — everyone was trying to get there. I got angry, shouting, ‘Get out of the way!’ About a quarter of a mile away, I just got out and ran.”

Upon arrival, she found a group of parents whom she described as “shocked, quiet. It was before mobile phones. Nobody knew anything.” They were told to wait in a classroom, packed so tightly that Judy shared a chair with a woman she had gone to school with. A policeman finally entered and asked the parents of a class to leave with him.

“The girl sharing my chair said, ‘That’s my daughter’s class,’ ” Judy Murray said. “I don’t know if I have survivor’s guilt, but I had an awful moment then when I was so relieved it wasn’t my kids, and then felt terrible. She lost her daughter.”

Murray said in the documentary that the Dunblane shooting marked the beginning of a tough stretch for him in which his parents divorced within a year after the shooting and Jamie moved away to play tennis. “We obviously used to do everything together. When he moved away, that was also quite hard for me,” he said, adding that he had “lots of anxiety” that surfaced while playing.

“When I was competing, I would get really bad breathing problems. My feeling towards tennis is that it’s an escape for me in some ways because all of these things are stuff that I have bottled up.”


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