After an attack last week in the German city of Hanau that left 11 people dead, German politicians have voiced support for adding a psychological test to the already onerous application process to own a firearm.
“After the violence in Hanau, we have to examine very seriously whether we need to readjust the weapons law,” Social Democrat Party interior affairs expert Helge Lindh told the newspaper, Die Welt.
“If It turns out that the authorities cannot sufficiently examine the psychological or personal suitability of gun owners, we must reform the law accordingly.”
The murderer opened fire around 10 p.m. at a shisha bar in an immigrant area of Hanau, a city near Frankfurt. He shot and killed three people at the first bar before driving to the second and killing five people. One additional person died at the hospital, and at least six people were injured.
The murderer was found dead at his apartment later that day along with his 72-year-old mother.
Investigators believe the 43-year-old acted with racist motives. German authorities say the suspect showed signs of a “deeply racist mentality” based on videos and a manifesto he posted online, and he appears to have targeted an area of the city with a high concentration of immigrants.
He used a Glock 17 to carry out the attacks, and research network RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) reported on Thursday that he had legally purchased the gun.
He was required to undergo an application process already strict by American standards. Applicants who wish to shoot their firearms (as opposed to merely collect them) must obtain a weapons possession card to own or purchase a firearm and a weapons license to use it, according to Die Welt.
Applicants must also, among other things, prove that they have a “need” to own a firearm, pass hours of in-class and on-range training, be free from mental illness or substance abuse, and prove that their circumstances do not give reason to assume they will use weapons recklessly. Altogether, the costs for an application, including the required insurance, can cost around $540.
Applicants under the age of 25 applying for their first gun license must submit a certificate of “mental aptitude” from a public health officer or psychologist. It’s unclear whether the 43-year-old suspect in last week’s attacks was required to submit a mental health certificate to own his firearm.
This supposed loophole appears to have spurred calls for stricter mental health screenings.
Irene Mihalic, domestic policy spokeswoman of the Green parliamentary group in the German parliament, told Die Welt that only those who have the “physical, cognitive and psychological aptitude for possessing firearms” should receive legal ownership permits.
Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of the Interior of Germany, also demanded additional psychological tests in the form of a “medical report or confirmation” for holders of firearms permits.