BERLIN (Reuters) - Senior German officials called on Sunday for a review of gun laws and even stricter enforcement after Friday’s shooting in Munich that claimed the lives of nine people and the gunman himself, a deranged 18-year-old who was obsessed with mass killings.
“Gun control is an important issue. We must continue to do all we can to limit and strictly control access to deadly weapons,” German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the center-left Social Democrats, told Funke Mediengruppe, which owns a series of German newspapers.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, vowed to review German gun laws after studying an investigation into the attack, and to seek improvements where needed.
De Maiziere said German gun laws were already very strict, and it was critical to understand how the attacker had obtained his pistol.
“Then we have to evaluate very carefully if and where further legal changes are needed,” he told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.
Bavarian state officials on Sunday said the German-Iranian dual national bought his reactivated 9 mm Glock 17 pistol - the most widely used law enforcement weapon worldwide - on the so-called dark net, a part of the Internet accessible only via special software.
“I support stricter regulations on the weapons trade and the creation of a European weapons registry modeled on the German national registry,” German lawmaker Stephan Mayer, a spokesman for Merkel’s conservatives in parliament, told Reuters.
He said German laws were already very strict and it would be wrong to cast suspicion on hunters or legal gun owners.
Burkhard Lischka, a lawmaker and spokesman for the Social Democrats in parliament, said it was more important to step up enforcement of existing gun laws than to rewrite existing laws.
“We must put a spotlight on the dark net,” he told the German Welt newspaper in an interview to be published Monday. “We have to give our security agencies the staffing and financial resources to stop this illegal trade.”
The gunman, identified by sources as David Sonboly, opened fire near a busy shopping centre on Friday evening, killing nine and wounding 35 more, before turning the gun on himself as police approached several hours later.
Bavarian officials said materials found in his home showed the gunman had begun planning the attack a year ago after visiting the site of a 2009 school shooting in southwest Germany in which 15 people were killed.
They said none of Friday’s shooting victims, eight of whom were between the ages of 14 and 20, were classmates of the gunman, and none of them had commented on a fake Facebook page which the gunman had used to invite people to the McDonald’s restaurant where the shooting began.
The Munich shooting was the third act of violence against civilians in Western Europe - and the second in southern Germany - in eight days. Officials said there were no signs of any links in this case to Islamist extremist groups.
The gun control debate comes as the European Union considers reforms that would tighten controls within the bloc and make it easier to trace the origin of guns purchased legally.
The proposed changes, which must still be enacted by EU member states, would also set more stringent rules for deactivating previously fully-functioning guns and making them available for sale.
Member states have different criteria for what constitutes a deactivated weapon, a legal loophole exploited by criminals to import weapons that have only been superficially modified to appear non-functioning.
The Glock 17 used by the Munich gunman, which had had its serial number filed away, was such a “reactivated” weapon last checked in Slovakia, Bavarian officials said. They said the origin of the gun remained unclear.
News that a unit of German military police had been readied - but not activated - on Friday to respond to a possible large militant attack has also sparked a debate in Germany, given its strongly decentralized form of government.
Additional reporting Markus Wacket and Andreas Rinke; Editing by Andrew Bolton