After massacre, Germany moves to bolster gun laws

8th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The move comes amid a fierce debate touched off by the bloodbath in mid-March, in which a 17-year-old killed 15 people with a gun taken from his father before killing himself.

Berlin -- The German government has agreed to curb gun rights, two months after a 17-year-old killed 15 people with a pistol taken from his father's bedroom, according to press reports Thursday.

The left-right "grand coalition" has agreed to present a series of measures to parliament in late May tightening arms control laws, several dailies said.

"We have agreed on reasonable changes that will mean more security without over-regulating hobby marksmen and hunters," the deputy head of the conservative Christian Union parliamentary group, Wolfgang Bosbach, told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung.

The move comes amid a fierce debate touched off by the bloodbath in mid-March in which Tim Kretschmer shot nine pupils and three teachers at his old school in Winnenden, southwestern Germany plus three passers-by before killing himself.

The proposals on the table include banning paintball, a game in which players use air rifles to shoot ammunition filled with paint at opponents. Lawmakers say the sport "simulates killing" and should be outlawed.

The draft law would also bar youths under the age of 18 from shooting high-calibre guns at target practice and permit police to conduct checks at the homes of gun owners to ensure their weapons are under lock and key.

An electronic registry of firearms would also be introduced along with, eventually, biometric security systems to help ensure weapons are only used by their rightful owners.

In addition, lawmakers would introduce an amnesty for owners of illegal firearms if they turn them in to authorities.

Relatives of the victims of the school shooting criticised the planned measures as insufficient.

"Guns have no place in the home," Hardy Schober, whose 16-year-old daughter was killed in Winnenden, told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung in an article to appear Friday.

Schober leads a group of Winnenden parents who have lobbied since the killings for tougher gun laws.


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