Gun Control and School Shootings

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.

3 Responses to Gun Control and School Shootings

  • Ryan Harkins says:

    The one thing I’m willing to concede to the anti-gun crowd is that a gun allows a person to do a whole lot more damage in a shorter period of time than a lot of other weapons. Even the pro-gun crowd is willing to admit this implicitly, since they claim that a gun is a much more effective weapon of defense than a can of mace, a knife, or other such things.

    The problem as I see it is this. Even if we wanted to ban guns, we can’t really do that. We’re in an arms race against criminals, essentially. If we disarm, the criminals will be able to walk all over us with their illegal weapons.

    But how, then, do we deal with incidents such as these? I know most people I’m friends with would simply arm other students and let them drop the perpetrator, but I’m not so certain that’s the best idea. Simply shrugging and saying “well, it’s inevitable terrible things like this would happen” is not the greatest of ideas, either, though I tend to believe that statement.

    I think once again the problem is that the government is trying to micromanage the situation in a poor way. The responsibility for handling these things needs to be at a more local level. Neighborhoods and families. With incentive (somehow, not that I have any great ideas on that) to watch out for neighbors. Not spy, but know the neighbors, know if a kid is troubled enough to commit a crime like this, and try to lend an ear, a shoulder, or a swift kick in the butt, whatever is needed.

  • I wouldn’t remotely consider letting high school students have concealed carry to be a solution to this kind of thing — but it does strike me as underlining that national regulation is simply not a very good tool for assuring that massive tragedies will never happen. If one could wish all guns in the world out of existence, that would prevent such things, but gun control laws do not wish all guns in the world out of existence — which is a fact I think sometimes escapes advocates. A law may have the intent of keeping irresponsible people from getting guns, but that doesn’t mean that the specific measures take will be successful in that.

  • Tony says:

    Where I work, we have registered first responders. These are folks trained in the use of first aid, including the defibrillator.

    Why not have adult concealed carry “first responders” designated by the school in case something like this happens. These people are volunteers, trained and permitted by the state who must take additional tactical training courses for the permission to carry concealed in the school.

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