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German gun laws among world's strictest

July 24,2016 02:16

MUNICH — German gun laws are some of the most restrictive in the world. The country also has one of the lowest rates of gun-related deaths despite having high levels of gun ownership, a scenario that is given added significance in light of the ...

TOP TRENDING Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY 5:47 p.m. EDT July 23, 2016MUNICH — German gun laws are some of the most restrictive in the world. The country also has one of the lowest rates of gun-related deaths despite having high levels of gun ownership, a scenario that is given added significance in light of the shooting spree in Munich.Ali David Sonboly, 18, the dual German-Iranian national behind Friday's attack outside a shopping mall in which nine people died, obtained his Glock firearm illegally and he did not have a license, investigators said Saturday. But he would have struggled to meet Germany's stringent requirements for legal possession.Applicants under 25 must undergo a series of tough checks that include whether the person has a history of mental health issues. Sonboly suffered from depression. They must also pass tests about gun knowledge and get approval for what the weapon will be used for. Unlike in the United States, there is no guaranteed right to bear arms.All this didn't stop Sonboly from acquiring an illicit weapon of course, but it does appear to have helped Germany reduce gun-related deaths to 57 last year, down from more than 800 in 1995, according to the website GunPolicy.org. This compares with about 13,445 people killed in the U.S. by firearms in 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive.Germany has a population of 80 million versus the U.S.'s 319 million. There are about 5.5 million legally owned guns in Germany, according to the nation's National Guns Registry, putting it in fourth place behind the U.S., Switzerland and Finland. In the U.S., the figure is about 300 million, according to the Guns in America website.NPR, citing data from the Congressional Research Service, reported that there are roughly twice as many guns per capita in the U.S. as there were in 1968.Much of Germany's stringent gun legislation was enacted in the wake of two traumatic mass shootings at schools here. In 2002, an expelled high school student used a semiautomatic gun to kill 16 people and himself. In 2009, an ex-student went to his old school and killed 15 pupils.Before Friday's incident there had not been a mass shooting — defined by the FBI as four or more people killed in a single event — in Germany since the attack in 2009. There were 332 mass shootings in the U.S, last year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and there have been 201 so far in 2016.Replay1 of 192 of 193 of 194 of 195 of 196 of 197 of 198 of 199 of 1910 of 1911 of 1912 of 1913 of 1914 of 1915 of 1916 of 1917 of 1918 of 1919 of 19AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsRead or Share this story: http://usat.ly/2a8X8OG

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