German courthouse shooting puts gun laws in spotlight

The attack follows a school shooting just a month ago.

The killing Tuesday of at least two people in a courthouse shootout in Bavaria, Germany – which comes less than a month after a teenager killed 15 people in a school shooting – is expected to fuel debate about tightening Germany’s gun laws, already among the most restrictive in the world.

The court was hearing a case regarding a dispute over inheritance. During a break, an argument broke out outside the courtroom, according to reports. The shooter, an older man, pulled a gun and shot a female relative, who later died. Shortly thereafter, he killed himself. Other people were injured in the attack, which occurred in Landshut, 45 miles northeast of Munich. (Click here for a map.)

Reports indicated that security checks are not routine at the Landshut courthouse.

Tuesday’s shooting comes less than a month after the school shooting in Winnenden, in southwestern Germany. After that incident, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for tougher gun laws in Germany. German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, however, said that better enforcement and a change in values were needed. The Christian Science Monitor noted at the time that another school shooting, in 2002, had already spurred stricter regulation of guns (click here for the story).

Among the changes: The age for owning a gun was raised from 18 to 21. Computer game manufacturers also had to indicate more clearly the targeted age groups for specific games. In Germany, gun buyers also need an ownership license, obtained after personal checks, and Tasers and dummy guns have been banned.

Beyond regulation, though, debate over social values is likely to heat up as well. As the Monitor reported after the Winnenden school shooting, concerns have grown about a culture that promotes violence – video games being a particular target of ire, as well as media coverage of violent incidents that may encourage copycats.

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