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Major, Top Foe Visit Mourning Village Scottish Judge Launches Probe Into Why Loner Got Gun Licenses

Sat., March 16, 1996

In a display of unity on behalf of a country in mourning, Britain’s prime minister and his chief political opponent carried flowers, prayers and sympathy Friday to the stricken Scottish village of Dunblane, where a madman killed 16 first-graders and their teacher this week.

As Dunblane wrestled with tragedy, a senior Scottish judge organized an independent investigation into why police granted embittered loner Thomas Hamilton multiple gun licenses. Hamilton, who walked into the school with four handguns, killed himself after shooting 28 children and three teachers.

No corner of the British Isles has been spared ripples of Dunblane’s pain.

Queen Elizabeth, her voice filled with emotion on a royal visit to Leeds, spoke of the victims: “My heart goes out to them, each and every one, and especially to the families of those who were killed and injured. May their courage remain undimmed.”

The queen will visit Dunblane on Sunday with her daughter, Princess Anne, Buckingham Palace said Friday night.

Ashen-faced, Prime Minister John Major, his wife, Norma, at his side, laid flowers beside hundreds of other bouquets at the school gates Friday after a 90-minute meeting inside with teachers and staff. “With thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy,” said the card.

Major was also accompanied by opposition leader Tony Blair, the polls’ choice as his likely successor.

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