Europe

Munich attack: Calls in Germany for tighter gun laws

The Eiffel Tower is illuminated in the national colours of Germany to pay tribute to the victims of the 22 July Munich shooting attack, in Paris, France, 23 July Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Eiffel Tower in Paris was illuminated in the national colours of Germany overnight in tribute

Senior German politicians have called for stricter controls on the sale of guns in response to the shooting attack in Munich on Friday.

Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said everything possible should be done to limit access to deadly weapons.

David Sonboly, 18, shot dead nine people before killing himself. He had a Glock pistol and more than 300 bullets.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who visited the scene of the shootings, said he planned to review gun laws.

Vigils are continuing in Munich to commemorate the victims, seven of whom were teenagers. Three were from Kosovo, three from Turkey and one from Greece.

A further 27 people were injured, 10 of them critically, as a result of the attack at the city's Olympia shopping centre, the biggest in the state of Bavaria.

Munich's police chief has called on media to respect the privacy of those affected by the attack on Monday, when schools reopen.

"For many school pupils, tomorrow will be a difficult day," said Hubertus Andrae in a tweeted statement (in German). "In some classrooms, one seat will be left empty. This is particularly hard for classmates, families and teachers."

'Strict control'

"We must continue to do all we can to limit and strictly control access to deadly weapons," Mr Gabriel, who leads the junior party in the governing coalition, the centre-left Social Democrats, told the Funke Mediengruppe news group.

He said the authorities were investigating how Sonboly, a German-Iranian dual national, had gained access to a weapon despite signs of significant psychological problems.

"Gun control is an important issue," he said.


Gun law in Germany

Image copyright EPA
Image caption A pistol seized by German police earlier this year

Germany has some of the strictest firearms controls in the world, according to a report by the US Library of Congress, and others.

Legislation was tightened still further after school shootings in Erfurt in 2002, when 16 people were killed, and Winnenden in 2009, which left 16 people dead.

Buyers younger than 25 must undergo a psychiatric evaluation before being able to acquire firearms.

Fully automatic weapons are banned outright, while semi-automatic firearms are banned for anything other than hunting or competitive shooting.

Despite the controls, the country has one of the world's highest rates of gun ownership, coming fourth behind the US, Switzerland and Finland in 2013, according to Spiegel magazine.


Mr de Maiziere, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper in a separate interview that he planned to review gun laws and seek improvements where needed.

It was critical to understand how the gunman had gained access to the pistol used, he said.

In another move, Bavaria's state interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, called for allowing the use of the army in future emergencies, such as terrorist attacks.

"We are not living in the times of the Weimar Republic," he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, referring to the period before Adolf Hitler took power in Germany. "We have an absolutely stable democracy."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Prayers have been said at the site of the shooting in Munich
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The attack was at Munich's Olympia shopping centre, the biggest in the state of Bavaria
Image copyright AP
Image caption Relatives of shooting victim Armela Segashi were in mourning in her native Kosovo

'I bought a gun'

Police who searched Sonboly's room found evidence that he had been obsessed with gun rampages.

They noted that his attack occurred on 22 July, the fifth anniversary of Anders Behring Breivik's mass murder in Norway.

Sonboly, who also used the name Ali, had reportedly used Facebook to lure his victims to a McDonald's fast food restaurant at the mall, where he was filmed by a witness opening fire on people trying to flee.

He also shot at a man, Thomas Salbey, who remonstrated with him from the balcony of his flat, hurling a beer bottle at him.

According to Mr Salbey, Sonboly told him he had "bought a gun".

Police do not yet know how the weapon was acquired but say he had no permit for it and the serial number was obliterated.

No motive has yet been established for the attack but police have ruled out any connection to recent Islamist militant attacks in Germany and France.

The killer possessed a US book on mass killings, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters, by Peter Langman.

Speaking to the Associated Press news agency, Langman said: "Younger shooters in particular, meaning adolescents into their 20s, often research other shooters and find a role model.

"That is not something you see with the older shooters."

The author stressed that his book had been written to "keep people safe, to teach people what to look for to prevent such attacks".


Anders Behring Breivik

Image copyright AFP

Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway on 22 July 2011, killing eight with a bomb in the capital Oslo before shooting dead 69 at a summer camp for young centre-left political activists on the island of Utoeya.

Now 37, he is held in solitary confinement in Norway after being sentenced to 21 years in 2012. He recently won an appeal against the tough regime of his incarceration.

He harboured radical right-wing views and said his attack was aimed at stopping Muslim immigration to Europe.

Breivik's victims


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