Politicians are already considering how to tighten gun control laws as people respond with shock and horror to a school shooting spree which took the lives of 15 victims and the 18-year-old shooter in a small town today in Germany. The problem is, Germany already has some of the tightest gun laws in Europe, a continent of tight gun laws.
In 2002, in the wake of a school shooting which killed 17 plus the shooter, Germany went so far as to require a permit for airsoft guns and starter pistols. Under current German laws, someone must have a gun license for each gun he purchases, and licenses expire and must be renewed at least every three years. To get a license, you must a 18 for an airgun or .22, and 21 for larger calibers. Applicants are subjected to a criminal and psychological background check and must demonstrate ability and safety knowledge.
Back in 2002 German police estimated there were 10 million legally owned guns among the German population of 82 million, but that there were an additional 20 million illegally owned guns. Most illegal guns come from the former Eastern Bloc, and gun advocates claim that only 0.004% of armed crimes are committed with legally owned guns.
In this case, however, the gun used is believed to have been owned legally by the 18-year-old shooter’s father — reported to be a successful business man with a number of licensed guns and a member of a gun club.
While it’s easy to understand the “make sure this can never happen again” reaction, one would think it would become increasingly hard to explain why more gun control is the answer when this shooting happened despite some of the toughest gun restrictions in Europe. Such mass slaughters are rare but horrific events, and given human nature and ingenuity it seems difficult to assure that one disturbed person out of 80 million will not, every few years, manage to kill on this scale. Even the Vatican (doubtless the most dis-armed state in the world) was once subject to a shooting spree.