In which countries are weapons prohibited?
There are several ways to deter potential assassins from their crimes. One of them is to limit the availability of handguns. Age, personal aptitude, safety courses - countries have taken different paths to prevent atrocities such as Newtown. Three examples of how laws and the availability of handguns are regulated around the world.
German politicians like to boast that the Federal Republic has "one of the toughest gun laws in the world". For example, the storage of a pistol in a pocket is so strictly regulated that several catches prevent someone from spontaneously reaching for the weapon. Unfortunately, the law has one disadvantage: it does not apply to all Germans.
Indeed, it is very difficult for an ordinary citizen to legally obtain a live firearm. Only a few thousand people - with the exception of public officials such as police officers and hunters - are allowed to lead such a self-protection.
The big exception are the sport shooters. Anyone who is a member of a rifle club and fulfills a manageable number of requirements has almost a free choice of arms dealer. In most of the German rampages, which have now resulted in more deaths than the RAF murders, the weapons came from the arsenal of a marksman. They hoard millions of pistols and rifles quite legally.
The lobbying work of the German Rifle Federation with 1.4 million members, which is deeply rooted in the constituencies, ensures that nothing changes. How successfully he put the MPs under pressure became apparent after the rampage. Every time politicians from almost all parties declared: As bad as it all is, you shouldn't put all shooters under general suspicion. It didn't matter that no one had done that.
The turning point in gun law in Australia began on a Sunday afternoon, more precisely on April 28, 1996. At that time, 28-year-old Martin Bryant rose from his table in a café in Port Arthur on Tasmania and suddenly opened fire. 32 people died from the bullets from his semi-automatic weapon, three more a little later.
Under the impression of the largest massacre in Australian history, Prime Minister John Howard launched an initiative and agreed with the states on a national tightening of gun law.
The relevant lobby organizations protested loudly, but since then Australia has often been treated as a role model internationally: the sale and possession of automatic and semi-automatic rifles is prohibited. In addition, all gun owners must be registered according to uniform national criteria, and strict rules apply to possession.
Anyone who wants to buy weapons must be at least 18 years old, have completed a safety course and, in addition to their suitability for certain types of weapons, also have to be able to prove a necessity, whereby a personal need for safety is not sufficient as a reason.
In order to reduce the number of weapons in private hands, the Australian government also invested hundreds of millions of euros: It bought around 650,000 weapons from their owners, and tens of thousands more were voluntarily given away.
When gun enthusiasts are looking for arguments against stricter laws, they tend to refer to Russia. There civilians are not allowed to possess pistols and rifles; at the same time, the country has one of the highest murder rates in the world.
Almost 16,000 people were killed in Russia in 2009, according to United Nations statistics. That is 11.2 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. The quota is more than twice as high as in the USA, where weapons are freely sold.
It would be much higher if not many dead were kept out of the statistics. At least that is what a study that was presented on behalf of the Russian General Prosecutor's Office last year suggests. Accordingly, the number of victims has risen steadily since the 1990s - to more than 46,000 in 2009. However, they did not appear in any statistics because the police repeatedly refuse to take reports because their success is measured by the clearance rate.
One of the reasons given for the high killing rate despite strict gun laws is the widespread use of illegal guns. Cases are repeatedly reported in which weapons have been diverted from the army. Nevertheless, the United Russia party launched an initiative to legalize weapons for self-defense in the summer.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has now clearly rejected such ideas: "We should definitely not take this path," he emphasized in a follow-up to his condolences to the USA.
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