BERLIN, Germany – Another hot topic that Germans talked with us about was gun control. It’s been a big issue in the United States and especially in Texas with all the mass shootings we’ve seen. We took an in-depth look at the issue in Germany and learned about the policies they implemented.
“A lot of people around the world have a hard time understanding why there’s so many gun deaths in the United States.”Erik Kirschbaum, German Journalist/RIAS Executive Director
Back in August, a shooting rampage in Odessa/Midland claimed the lives of 7 people and left more than 20 injured.
“We have to do something. I don’t know what the answer is. but people need to come together and find an answer,” says Carla Bryne, brother killed in Odessa/Midland mass shooting.
Also in Texas that same month, a gunman shot and killed 22 people in El Paso and injured 24 others. The list of mass shootings across the United States seems to keep growing.
“There are a lot of guns in Germany,” says Erik Kirschbaum, German journalist.
Kirschbaum has lived in both worlds.
“I grew up in New York and Connecticut and went to college in Wisconsin.
He’s now a journalist based in Germany.
“Germans have a hard time understanding and I think not just Germans but a lot of people around the world have a hard time understanding why there’s so many gun deaths in the United States,” says Kirschbaum.
A new weapons act took effect in 2003 after a school shooting in the city of Erfurt, Germany. A student killed 16 people. More gun reform took place in 2009, in response to a massacre at Winnenden. An 18-year-old killed 15 people in another school shooting.
“The German parliament clammed down even more on these rules and made it even tougher for people to get their hands on guns that didn’t have a license,” says Kirschbaum.
The U.S. Library of Congress describes the German gun control system as one of the most stringent in Europe. A constitutional right to bear arms. is not part of the German legal tradition. It restricts possession to those with a so-called “credible need” for a weapon. It also bans fully automatic weapons. Authorities at any time may request access.
“If you have a history of causing problems, breaking the law, police have the right to take your gun away from you,” says Kirschbaum.
But would the German system work in the United States?
The debate has raged for years between gun rights advocates on one side and supporters of tightening gun laws.
“We are not doing all we can with protective orders, when judges have actually said this individual shouldn’t have a firearm, they are suspected of domestic violence or stalking or sexual assault and the judge has said that we are not checking on them,” says State Rep Joe Moody, (D) El Paso.
“Things that aren’t going to infringe on the second amendment, but common-sense solutions and just make it more difficult for shooters to commit crimes against people,” says State Rep Brooks Landgraf, (R) Odessa.”
From changes to gun sales to social media tracking, Texas lawmakers made clear they’re exploring even more solutions after those deadly mass-shootings in El Paso and Odessa/Midland.