Finland Mulls Tighter Gun Laws After Deadly School Shooting | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 24.09.2008
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Finland Mulls Tighter Gun Laws After Deadly School Shooting

As Finland mourned the victims of its second school shooting in less than a year, politicians began asking whether it was time to clamp down on private gun ownership.

Police cars outside the school in Kauhajoki

The shooting has sent shockwaves through Finland

The national daily Helsingin Sanomat replaced its usual front-page ad on Wednesday, Sept. 24, with a picture of a woman adding a candle to a memorial in front of the school. The text above a picture read, "Why?"

Ten people were killed when 22-year-old Matti S. opened fire on fellow students at a vocational college in western Finland on Tuesday before turning the gun on himself. He later died at the hospital.

The shooting in the town of Kauhajoki, some 300 kilometers (190 miles) northwest of the capital Helsinki, caused panic as the hooded gunman, identified by police as second-year culinary arts student Matti S., 22, entered the school and began firing in a classroom where students were taking exams.

Small-caliber guns enough to kill

Police vehicles rushed to a school in Kauhajoki

Police vehicles rushed to the school after news of the shooting was reported

Police said on Wednesday they believed Matti S. planned the massacre since 2002 and acted alone.

"A cold-blooded shooter entered the building with an automatic pistol and started cutting down students," said Jukka Forsberg, a maintenance man at the Kauhajoki school. "He also shot towards me, he did not say anything and once the bullets started to whizz by I started running for my life."

Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said on Tuesday that Finland, which has one of the world'd highest levels of gun ownership, should consider banning private handguns altogether.

"The Kauhajoki shooter had a new gun permit for a small-caliber gun. Those calibers were enough, however, to end the lives of many young people and spread senseless pain and destruction widely," Helsingin Sanomat wrote.

Online video of gunman

Finnish Interior Minister Anne Holmlund told a news conference that Finnish police had spoken to the gunman a day before he carried out the attack because of a video he had posted on the Internet video site YouTube.

Police forces outside the school Kauhajoki

Finnish press focused on the fact that police had contacted Matti S. before the shooting

The video, which has since been removed, showed Matti S. wielding a handgun at a shooting range.

"Police reached him on Monday and asked him to be interviewed regarding the shooting video," Holmlund said. "Police action will be examined in more detail later. The gunman had a temporary permit for a .22 caliber pistol, and he had received it in August 2008. It was his first gun."

Fire broke out at school

A fire brigade duty officer said a fire had been started in several locations around the school.

There were some 200 students in the building at the trade school where the shooting was reported, YLE said.

In November 2007, a Finnish high school student killed eight people in a school shooting before killing himself.

The November shooting at Jokela, 60 kilometers north of Helsinki, triggered a series of threats against schools in Finland and its Nordic neighbors.

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