The horror of the school shooting in Winnenden will be followed by calls for Germany's already restrictive gun laws to be tightened. But the hope that this will work is misplaced.
After the Erfurt school shooting in 2002, guns controls were supposedly strengthened and before that, in 1972, Germany introduced draconian gun laws to combat Baader-Meinhof terrorism. In the first three years after the legislation was passed, German military and police armouries “lost” 34 machine guns, 198 sub-machineguns, 363 automatic rifles and 1,142 pistols: with such firepower available from the organs of the State itself, the Federal Republic did not have enough terrorists to go round. As we in Britain now know, having seen the doubling of handgun crime within five years of our total ban on pistols, “gun control” is a perverse concept.
If the Germans are serious about stopping killers running amok in schools, they might consider the Israeli solution of arming teachers. It works there, as it has on occasion in America - the massacre in the “gun-free zone” of Virginia Tech can be contrasted with the assault by a former pupil on the neighbouring Appalachian Law School in 2002 that was halted by two armed students.
Neither we nor the Germans, of course, would be willing to adopt such a policy. We are more appalled now by the idea of an armed society. Yet an international study published in the Harvard Journal on Law & Public Policy in 2007 found that European nations with high gun ownership levels, such as Switzerland, Norway and Austria, had significantly lower murder rates than European countries with low levels of legal firearms possession. ...