Germany to tighten gun control, ban paintball | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 13.05.2009
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Germany

Germany to tighten gun control, ban paintball

Germany's coalition government is moving to severely tighten controls over firearm owners, after a 17-year-old killed 15 people with a pistol taken from his father's bedroom.

A woman aims an imitation Kalashnikov

The new laws aim to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands

The Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democrat Party agreed on Tuesday evening to reforms to Germany's gun laws, which include a controversial ban on war games like paintball or laser-tag.

Both coalition parties still have to approve the negotiated outcomes. The reforms are to be presented to parliament in late May, so that they can be dealt with before the election in September.

The draft law would also bar youths under the age of 18 from shooting high-caliber firearms at target practice.

Particularly controversial is the plan to conduct random checks on gun-owners' properties to make sure weapons and ammunition are stored and locked properly. Even in cases where no wrongdoing is suspected gun owners who refuse police access face the prospect of having their licenses revoked.

An electronic firearms registry would also be introduced, as well as biometric security systems to help ensure weapons are only used by their rightful owners.

In addition, lawmakers are to introduce an amnesty for gun owners who hand in illegal firearms to authorities.

The plan also contains provisions to impose hefty fines on the operators of war games like paintball, a game in which players use air-guns to shoot paint-filled ammunition at opponents. Lawmakers say the sport "simulates killing" and should be outlawed.

Sport shooters and hunters have come out strongly in protest against tightening existing regulations, saying that the government wants to take away their rights and treat them like common criminals.

A 17-year-old named Tim K. went on a rampage in a school in the south-western German town of Winnenden in March, killing himself and 14 others.

Relatives of the victims of the school shooting have criticized lawmakers' plans to tighten gun laws as insufficient.

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