Sometimes a Shooter Is Just a Shooter

That appears to be the case, based on what we know now, with Ali Sonboly, the 18 year old Iranian-German who went on a rampage in Germany yesterday. I assume that Sonboly’s family is Muslim (how observant, I have no idea) but that doesn’t seem to have played a part in his spree, notwithstanding two witnesses who say they heard him shout “Allahu akbar.” Rather, he appears to be a “classical shooter,” as Munich’s chief of police described him.

Sonboly was obsessed with mass shootings, and had in his backpack, while he carried out his attack, a book titled Why Kids Kill: Inside The Minds of School Shooters. Sonboly committed his murders on the fifth anniversary of Anders Breivik’s killing spree, presumably not a coincidence. The clincher is the bizarre argument, of sorts, he carried out with a bystander just before, or in the midst of, his assault. You can read the translated text of that conversation here, along with much else. That would have been the time for a lesson in Islam, had Sonboly been ISIS-inspired, but any such theme is absent.


When a mass shooting occurs in the U.S., it is always used by liberals to demand stricter gun control. That caused me to wonder about the Glock 17 that Sonboly used yesterday, and the 300 rounds of ammunition that he carried with him. So far, I don’t believe anything is known (or has been made public, anyway) about how Sonboly acquired them. Here is a summary of German gun control laws:

The German system of gun control is among the most stringent in Europe. It restricts the acquisition, possession, and carrying of firearms to those with a creditable need for a weapon. …

In recent years, German gun-control law underwent several reforms that made it even more stringent. A new Weapons Act became effective in 2003 after a school shooting in the city of Erfurt in which a student killed sixteen persons. The new Act restricted the use of large caliber weapons by young people and strengthened requirements for the safe storage of firearms.

Another reform was enacted in 2009 in response to the massacre at Winnenden, in which an eighteen-year-old killed fifteen people in the course of a school shooting. This latest reform led to the creation of a federal gun register and to intense governmental monitoring of gun owners’ compliance with requirements for the safe storage of firearms. Pursuant to the reformed legislation, the authorities may at any time request access to the premises of any registered gun owner to monitor whether proper safe-storage procedures are being observed.

A constitutional right to bear arms is not part of the German legal tradition. …

The general requirements for obtaining any type of weapons license are

* a minimum age of eighteen years;

* the proven reliability of the applicant;

* knowledge of weapons technology and law, and expertise in the use of a firearm;

* five years of residency in Germany; and

* a need for the weapon.

Those restrictions are beyond the wish list of the most fervent American gun grabber. As with most countries with strict gun controls, the most obvious statistical effect is to cause murderers to use other weapons. Whether gun control at any level has a measurable impact on a country’s homicide rate is debatable. Nevertheless, when more information comes out about how Ali Sonboly acquired his pistol and ammunition, there likely will be a new round of gun legislation in Germany.


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