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Dunblane parents angered by queen’s husband criticizing gun ban

December 19, 1996

LONDON (AP) _ Buckingham Palace apologized today after Prince Philip angered grieving relatives of slain schoolchildren by speaking out against a new law banning most handguns.

In a BBC radio interview Wednesday, the 75-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II said he sympathized with the bereaved people of Dunblane, Scotland, where 16 children and a teacher were killed this year, but suggested that a handgun ban was not a rational response.

``If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean are you going to ban cricket bats?″ Philip said.

Philip, who is president of the World Wide Fund for Nature, his wife and most of their family hunt deer and game birds for sport.

``I can’t believe that the members of shooting clubs are any more dangerous than members of a squash club or a golf club or anything else,″ he said.

Alison Crozier, whose 5-year-old daughter Emma was killed in the Dunblane massacre, called Philip’s remarks outrageous and insensitive.

``Golf clubs are made for sport, for enjoyment. Guns are made to kill. There is no comparison,″ she said.

Tony Blair, leader of the opposition Labor party, said Philip’s reference to cricket bats ``was not a wise analogy.″

Buckingham Palace tried to smooth over the ruckus.

``Prince Philip had no intention whatsoever of causing offense or distress to anyone and he is sorry if he has done so,″ Buckingham Palace said today.

``His personal views were very much focused in the area of how difficult it is to apply the law sensibly in these difficult situations,″ the statement said.

The massacre at Dunblane kindergarten on March 13 stirred a wave of revulsion in Britain against handgun ownership. Legislators voted last month to ban private ownership of all handguns except .22 caliber guns. The ban takes effect next year.

Dunblane gunman Thomas Hamilton, who also killed himself, was a member of a local target shooting club and had a police license for his guns.

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