German MP insists gun laws sufficient after latest shooting

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A senior German lawmaker said Tuesday tougher gun laws were not the answer after four people including a five-year-old boy died in the latest armed rampage to rock the country in recent years.

The incident late on Sunday saw a 41-year-old lawyer and hobby markswoman allegedly kill her estranged husband and their son and then shoot several others, one fatally, with a gun she legally owned and kept at home.

An autopsy released by police Tuesday showed that the boy, named in reports as Roman, was knocked unconscious with blows to the head and then suffocated with a plastic bag. The husband, Wolfgang, was shot twice in the neck and head.

The woman, named in reports as Sabine R., blew up the flat containing the bodies before heading to a hospital over the road and opening fire in the gynaecological department where she had a miscarriage in 2004.

She killed a hospital worker by stabbing him repeatedly with a hunting knife and shooting him three times in the head and neck before R. died in a shootout with police. Tuesday's autopsy results revealed she was shot 17 times.

Wolfgang Bosbach, the head of a parliamentary commission on domestic issues, said however that banning people from having weapons at home and keeping them in communal storage sites would be "counter-productive".

"Banning the private ownership of guns would not increase domestic security but would create whole new sources of danger," Bosbach, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung daily.

Locking up the estimated 10 million privately owned weapons in Germany would be costly, and a robbery on a storage site "would be enough to equip a small private army", he said.

German gun laws were tightened after two school massacres in the eastern city of Erfurt in April 2002 and in the southwestern town of Winnenden in March 2009, both of which were also carried out with legal weapons.

Konrad Freiberg, head of police union GdP, told ZDF public television that the problem was what he called an "immense" failure to implement the new rules and an "irresponsible" lack of progress in creating a weapons register.

"After Winnenden gun owners were meant to be able to be checked, including when there is no criminal suspicion. This has hardly happened and there aren't enough personnel. The implementation deficit is immense," he said.

"After Winnenden a weapons register was supposed to be created. We know how many bananas are imported but not the number of guns ... It is negligent and irresponsible that this is happening so late. This could really save lives."

On Tuesday, the trial resumed of the father of the 17-year-old Winnenden gunman, Joerg Kretschmer, on charges of manslaughter and breaking gun laws.

Tim Kretschmer took the 9mm Beretta pistol he used to kill 15 people and then himself from his father's bedside where he stored it instead of keeping it under lock and key, prosecutors allege.

© 2010 AFP

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