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Shootings spark debate over sports weapons

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Shootings spark debate over sports weapons
Photo: DPA
08:35 CEST+02:00
A senior government lawmaker rejected calls on Tuesday for a ban on keeping sports and hunting weapons in private homes after it emerged the Lörrach gunwoman was a recreational shooter who owned the murder weapon legally.

Wolfgang Bosbach, head of the Bundestag's interior committee and a member of the Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, dismissed as “counterproductive” a demand by the environmentalist Greens for private possession of weapons to be gradually phased out.

The debate came as investigators said they would present the final results of the autopsies on the woman's former partner and five-year-old son on Tuesday. Both died in an apartment that was then destroyed in an explosion, though it is thought they were already dead – the man shot and the boy from some form of heavy impact.

The town of Lörrach in Baden-Württemberg was shocked on Sunday night by the shooting rampage by 41-year-old lawyer Sabine R. The woman apparently killed her former partner and their son, then headed to a nearby hospital armed with a pistol and a knife. After murdering an orderly and wounding a police officer, she was killed in shoot-out with the police.

The woman was a sports shooter who legally owned the small-calibre pistol she used on her rampage. She had been a member of a sports shooting club, though it was not clear whether she remained with the club.

But Bosbach told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that “a ban on private gun ownership would not improve safety, but rather create whole new sources of danger.”

Given there were about 10 million legal weapons, such as sports and hunting guns, registered in Germany, it would be a mammoth task housing them all in central locations such as sports clubs, he said.

“Sports shooters and hunters wouldn't be up to it personally and financially,” he said.

Were there a raid on such a central cache of weapons, the attackers “could raise a private army with the seized weapons,” Bosbach warned.

The interior spokesman for the Greens' parliamentary group, Wolfgang Wieland, had previously called for a phasing out of private possession of weapons in homes.

“Sports weapons need to be out of private homes completely. After every mass shooting, a minor tightening of guns laws. It was the same after Winnenden,” he said.

Pressure from the gun lobby ensured no tougher measures were taken, he said.

He acknowledged that a ban on sports guns in private homes could not be achieved overnight, accepting that secure depositories would need to be set up for the millions of guns.

“But that is achievable over a transition period,” he said.

The German police union, meanwhile, called for more training for beat police to tackle such mass shooting situations.

“During mass shootings, the patrol officers arriving on the scene have to stop the suspect quickly, the officers are however usually not fully prepared,” union boss Rainer Wendt told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Regular patrol police officers needed urgently to have “special mass shooting training, that has to be revised every two months,” he said.

Otherwise, the police were relying on good fortune like in the case of the Lörrach incident.

“I wouldn't want see the day in which this luck runs out,” Wendt said.

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