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Gun Control

March 15, 2009

A day after a funeral was held for the first of the victims of a school shooting, Chancellor Angela Merkel called Sunday for tighter gun-control laws. Police say regulations are strict enough but go unenforced.

A victim's coffin is carried on the cemetery in Winnenden
One lesson from the shooting is vigilance, Merkel saidImage: AP

Merkel called on Sunday, March 15, for tighter gun control in her country after a teenager used his father's pistol to kill 15 people. Authorities have said the gunman then took his own life while in a shoot-out with police.

"We will probably never be able to prevent (another such massacre), but one of the lessons from this horrible event is to be vigilant," Merkel said in an interview with public radio station Deutschlandfunk. "The possession of weapons and munitions is a subject that we must strongly pay attention to -- it must be controlled, rules must be applied."

The pistol Tim K. used
Tim K. reportedly got the weapon for the shooting from his father's night tableImage: AP/Reproduktion: Daniel Roland

The chancellor also mentioned conducting "spot checks" of legally owned weapons to ensure their proper storage.

Several calls to tighten gun laws and monitor gun owners' accordance with storage requirement have been issued by politicians and other groups after 17-year-old Tim K., armed with a Beretta gun taken from his father's bedroom, killed 16 people in the small southwestern town of Winnenden, near Stuttgart.

Gun laws unenforced

Some 78 percent of Germans said they supported banning guns from homes, according to an Emnid study of 501 people published Sunday by the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. Some 41 percent said they approved of students being searched before entering a school.

The German Police Union, however, said the country's current gun control laws were sufficient but have not been adequately enforced.

"We restricted the right to own weapons after the school shooting in Erfurt, but no one is checking if the strict requirements are being met," union head Rainer Wendt told the dpa news agency. "Our problem in this case is not the law, but that implementation is done on a voluntary basis."

German gun laws require weapons to be stored in anchored and locked gun safes.

First funereal service held

A man lights one of hundreds of candles outside the Winnenden school
People continued to mourn at the Winnenden schoolImage: AP

Local officials paid tribute Sunday to the "heroism" of the teachers who were inside the Albertville secondary school when the killer struck, killing eight girls and one boy, mostly with expert shots to the head.

"Although some were already injured, they brought the children to safety, locked doors and kept them quiet," Johannes Schmalzl, the head of the regional government of Stuttgart, told reporters.

Several hundred people attended the schoolgirl's funeral in Winnenden on Saturday.

"We can't comprehend the act that brought death upon her," a Catholic priest said during the girl's funeral service.

Many of her classmates, who had witnessed the shooting, were also present. "You are young and are allowed to live on," the priest said, adding, "I wish that some day, joy will return to your lives."

The girl was one of nine pupils and three teachers killed Tim K. killed three others as he fled the town.

Hundreds of mourners gathered at the Albertville secondary school in Winnenden where the shooting had occurred. People added mementos to the growing pile of flowers, cards and letters dedicated to those who lost their lives.

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