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Despite gun laws, Germany not immune to school shootings

March 12, 2009|From Times Staff And Wire Reports

Germany is known for having strict gun possession laws. The legal age for owning recreational firearms was raised from 18 to 21 after a 2002 shooting in Erfurt that killed 16 people.

Weapons cannot be bought without a license, which can be acquired only after proving expert knowledge of firearms and a need for the weapon.

Still, Germany has not been immune to school shootings.

In the latest case, a 17-year-old former student armed with a Beretta 9-millimeter pistol burst into classrooms at a high school near Stuttgart on Wednesday.

He killed 15 people -- nine students and three teachers and, as he fled, three men -- before killing himself.

Police said the gunman's father was a member of a local gun club and had a collection of 15 firearms.

All but the pistol were kept locked away.

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Previous cases

February 2002: In Freising, Bavaria, a former student who had been thrown out of trade school shot and killed three people before killing himself. A teacher was injured.

April 2002: In Erfurt, eastern Germany, 19-year-old Robert Steinhauser opened fire after saying he was not going to take a math test. He killed 12 teachers, a secretary, two pupils and a policeman at the Gutenberg Gymnasium before killing himself.

November 2006: An 18-year-old opened fire after storming his former school in the western town of Emsdetten. He wounded at least 11 people before killing himself.

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