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Politicians bicker over gun law reforms on Winnenden anniversary

Amid memorials on the one year anniversary of the deadly Winnenden school shooting on Thursday, politicians and law enforcement authorities bickered over whether changes to weapon laws have been successful.

Politicians bicker over gun law reforms on Winnenden anniversary
Photo: DPA

Seventeen-year-old Tim Kretschmer killed 15 people and himself in the picturesque southwestern town during a rampage that started at his old school on March 11, 2009. His father has since been charged with manslaughter because he was allegedly negligent in the storage of more than a dozen weapons at his house, one of which – a 9mm Beretta pistol – was used in the killings.

Three months after the shooting, the German parliament made gun owners subject to random checks not requiring any specific suspicion of wrongdoing. The tightened laws also mean that gun owners face heavier penalties for violating storage regulations.

On Thursday, the head of the professional police association (BDK) Klaus Jansen argued that despite reforms, blatant security violations by gun owners continue to allow young people easy access to weapons.

“Random inspections in Baden-Württemberg have shown that more than half of the weapons owners do not have their munitions locked up as prescribed,” he told daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, adding that new school shooting emergency plans frequently go unpractised.

Germany has capitulated to the weapons lobby, Jansen continued.

“The hobby of shooting sports remains a priority above human life in Germany as it did before,” he said.

Meanwhile Social Democrat Fritz Rudolf Körper, who led parliamentary negotiations to strengthen Germany’s weapons law last year after the shooting, spoke of “quite massive” attempts by the weapons lobby to influence the legal process.

In an interview with broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, Körper said the country’s weapons registry has not been vigilantly implemented, and called for a renewed amnesty for those who turn in illegal firearms.

But deputy head of the Christian Democratic parliamentary group Wolfgang Bosbach disagreed in the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, saying the reforms have been successful.

“They have increased the awareness that weapons must be securely stored in the home,” he told the paper.

German President Horst Köhler is scheduled to speak at a public memorial service in Winnenden at 11 am on Thursday.

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CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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