MUNICH — Two days after the mass shooting by a violence-obsessed teen here, German politicians on Sunday urged tighter gun restrictions in a country that already has some of the toughest anti-gun laws in the world.
Germany has one of the lowest rates of gun-related deaths despite high levels of gun ownership. Even so, Friday’s shooting spree that left nine dead and dozens wounded prompted German lawmakers to say more needs to be done to prevent another massacre using firearms.
German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain that the country “must continue to do all we can to limit and strictly control access to deadly weapons.”
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, “We have to evaluate very carefully if and where further legal changes are needed.”
The gunman behind the attack outside a Munich shopping mall, Ali David Sonboly, 18, obtained his Glock pistol illegally and did not have a license, investigators said. He would have struggled to meet Germany’s stringent requirements for legal possession.
Applicants under 25 must undergo a series of tough checks that include whether the person has a history of mental health issues. They must also pass tests about gun knowledge and get approval for what the weapon will be used for. Unlike in the United States, there is no guaranteed right to bear arms.
Sonboly, born in Munich to parents who had emigrated from Iran, received both inpatient and outpatient psychiatric treatment last year to help him deal with depression and to deal with “fears of contact with others,” Thomas Steinkraus-Koch, of the Munich prosecutors’ office, said Sunday. The teen also had been planning the attack for more than a year, and a “manifesto” was found in his room, Baviarian investigator Robert Heimberger said.
The strict application process didn’t stop Sonboly from acquiring an illegal weapon, of course, but it appears to have helped Germany reduce gun-related deaths to 57 last year, down from more than 800 in 1995, according to the website GunPolicy.org. That compares with about 13,445 people killed in the United States by firearms in 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive.