Hobart, Monday

Relatives of the victims of the Dunblane massacre today shared their grief with people on the other side of the world who have suffered a similar loss.

They told relatives of those killed in a gun massacre in Port Arthur, Tasmania, that both communities had suffered through ''lunatics with guns''.

The meeting took place as the relatives of the Australian victims prepared to face the first anniversary of the massacre on April 28.

Barely a month after Thomas Hamilton killed 16 primary school children and their teacher in Dunblane, gunman Martin Bryant killed 35 people in Port Arthur.

Hamilton took his own life with his favourite revolver after the Dunblane massacre. Bryant was jailed for life without parole for 35 murders and 37 associated charges.

Les Morton, whose five-year-old daughter Emily was among those killed at Dunblane, is visiting Australia with another Dunblane father, John Crozier and the guardian of Amie Adam, six, who survived the massacre. The aim is to talk with the Port Arthur families and campaign against guns.

He said the first anniversary of the massacre was worse than he thought it would be.

''A lot of people thought that the day after the anniversary, we could draw a line and try to get back to some semblance of normality,'' he said.

But he added: ''The thing was, the next day, the grief is still there.''

In Scotland today, anti-gun campaigner Ann Pearston, who led the Snowdrop campaign, said: ''The visit was intended to enable both sets of relatives to meet and give mutual support. It is one of the worst shared experiences you could have,'' she said.

John Crozier, whose daughter Emma was one of Hamilton's victims, appealed for help in getting rid of guns and in ensuring existing gun control laws were not watered down.

Australian Walter Mikac, who lost his wife Nanette and daughters Madeline, three, and Alannah, six, at Port Arthur, said he still struggled to comprehend the reality of what happened as the April 28 anniversary of the Port Arthur killings approached.

''I feel a bit numb, angry, a little bit angry, that's really about as far as I've let myself go,'' Mr Mikac said.

Mr Morton rejected the argument of pro-shooters that people and not guns were to blame.

He said Thomas Hamilton and Martin Bryant were ''lunatics with guns'' and added: ''If they'd been lunatics without guns, our children might still be alive today, Walter's family might be alive today.

''You cannot dissociate the person from the gun.''

The three Dunblane fathers visited Port Arthur yesterday. They were invited here by the National Coalition for Gun Control, which now wants a blanket ban on all high-calibre handguns in Australia.