Germany working on restricting gun access

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The government is exploring such measures as biometric identification methods and better safety locks on the firearms themselves to ensure only the legal owners can use them.

Berlin -- Germany is working on tougher measures to restrict access to guns following last month's deadly rampage by a teenager, the country's interior minister said in an interview published Thursday.

Wolfgang Schaeuble told the daily Rheinische Post that biometric identification methods such as fingerprint scanners could be installed on gun case locks, or better safety locks on the firearms themselves to ensure only the legal owners can use them.

"There are interesting technical possibilities," he said.

The remarks came less than a month after a 17-year-old shot dead 15 people and then himself with a pistol he stole from his parents' bedroom.

He had apparently also obtained the security code to his father's gun chest containing another 15 weapons, all bought legally.

Meanwhile this week, a 60-year-old man opened fire at a courthouse hearing an inheritance case in which he was entangled. He killed his sister-in-law and wounded another relative and an attorney before turning the gun on himself.

The cases prompted soul-searching in Germany, where gun laws were tightened considerably in the wake of a massacre at a school in Erfurt in 2002 that left 17 dead including the gunman.

Schaeuble said Germany was among the countries with the world's toughest arms laws but the recent incidents pointed to serious lapses in implementation and enforcement.

"From the beginning it appeared that the rules were not being followed here. Otherwise that young man could not have got his hands on the gun," he said.

Schaeuble said talks had begun with Germany's 16 federal states and with gun clubs and hunting groups about better firearm security, adding that he aimed to have recommendations ready for a conference of state interior ministers in early June.


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