Drive-by shooting in Germany, one of the world's strictest on gun control

A driver has been arrested for killing two people and shooting at others before fleeing in his convertible, rocking the small Bavarian town of Tiefenthal. In Germany, how easy is it to get a gun?

Michaela Rehle/REUTERS
Police tape and a German police officer are seen in Tiefenthal near Ansbach, Germany, July 10, 2015. German police said on Friday they have arrested a man suspected of shooting dead two people near Ansbach in northern Bavaria. Earlier, police said the attacker shot dead a woman from his silver Mercedes convertible in Leutershausen-Tiefenthal and later shot a cyclist, who died at the scene of the crime.

A suspect has been taken into custody for killing two people in a drive-by shooting in the southern German region of Bavaria, sparking a manhunt in a nation with some of the world’s most stringent gun regulations. 

The man, whose identity has not been released, shot an 82-year-old woman late Friday morning from his locally-registered Mercedes in the town of Tiefenthal, near Ansbach, said police, according to The Associated Press. He later killed a cyclist near Rammersdorf.

He also fired at two others, a farmer and another motorist, before fleeing in his convertible, reported Reuters. They managed to escape unharmed. 

While police are investigating why the gunman attacked, they suspect he may have been motivated by personal reasons. BBC reports that the woman, who died at the scene, may have been related to the gunman.

The local Nuernberger Zeitung newspaper reported that the man was tackled by workers at a gas station in Bad Windsheim, about 20 miles from the scene of the shootings, after threatening them with a gun, according to the AP.

According to the paper, they tied him up and called the police. 

The shooting casts international attention on Germany, a country more recognized for its dealings in the recent Greek bailout crisis than its rigorous gun control laws. “In Germany, it's not about if guns should be regulated, but how guns should be regulated,” wrote NPR Berlin's Amanda Peacher in 2013. 

Unlike the constitutional right to gun possession in America, Germans have to undergo a yearlong process to be licensed for gun ownership, which includes a written test, hours of shooting practice, and the cost of up to several thousand euros. More importantly, they have to demonstrate a credible need to own a gun, like sports shooting or hunting.

Each year, about 200 people are killed by guns in Germany, a low number compared to the US, reported NPR.

But Germany, a more conservative society with relatively little violent crime – where guns are decidedly unpopular – also has a history of high-profile school shootings.

The nation’s Weapons Act, which tightened gun restrictions and banned automatic firearms, became effective in 2003 after a school shooting in Erfurt killed 16 people. In 2009, a shooter at a Winnenden high school killed 15, marking Germany’s third school shooting in eight years, according to NPR. 

The record was enough to convince even gun lobbyists that regulation is needed.

“On the one hand, we think, ‘Oh, it's very restrictive, and we don't like that,'” Friedrich Gepperth, a local sport shooter and gun lobbyist, told NPR. “On the other hand, each case of misuse by a legal gun owner is very bad for us, so we are not going against the restrictions very much.” 

This report contains material from The Associated Press.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.