German state proposes gun amnesty after school shooting | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 18.04.2009
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German state proposes gun amnesty after school shooting

A southern German state - the scene of a deadly school shooting in March - is proposing amnesty for people who hand in illegal firearms.

A table of guns

Following March's shooting, hundreds of Germans have voluntarily handed in firearms

According to a report to be published on Monday, April 20, in the German weekly Der Spiegel, weapons turned in to authorities in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg would be accepted with no questions asked - provided they have not been previously been used to commit a crime.

Baden-Wuerttemberg's interior ministry confirmed to news agency AP that a working group would consider the proposal on Tuesday.

The initiative to lower the number of illegally owned guns in Germany comes less than a month after a 17-year-old shot dead 15 people in Baden-Wuerttemberg and then himself with a pistol he stole from his parents' bedroom.

In a separate incident in April, 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 two others before turning the gun on himself.

A similar program was initiated following a massacre eight years ago in Erfurt, when a student killed 16 people as well as himself.

Unwanted firearms

A thumb pressing a button with a large fingerprint in the background

Schaeuble has said fingerprint scanners installed on gun case locks are one safe-guard being considered

According to Der Spiegel, hundreds of German citizens have handed over unwanted weapons in recent weeks that they either inherited or simply don't use.

In the Rems Murr region alone - where Winnenden, the site of the March shooting, is located - 370 weapons have been handed over to authorities since the massacre.

Der Spiegel also reports that a newly established taskforce in Munich has collected 422 firearms, while three times as many as the average number of guns have been handed over in recent weeks in the northern city of Bremen.

In a letter seen by AP from Baden-Wuerttemberg's Interior Minister Heribert Rech to Justice Minister Ulrich Goll, an official firearm amnesty initiative should be repeated "as fast as possible."

In the letter, Rech wrote that he wanted to make use of the population's readiness to handover dangerous firearms. He particularly highlighted the need to fight "the unacceptable supply of illegal weapons, which we cannot accurately estimate."

The proposal was already put to the federal interior ministry and state interior ministers by Rech in late March, where it was "positively received."

Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble will meet with his state colleagues in early June for a conference, where changes to gun laws are on the agenda.

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