March 11, 2009
HELSINKI â€“ Several European countries have restricted gun laws in the wake of school massacres, gang violence and other gun-related crimes:
_Finland announced plans Wednesday to impose stricter restrictions on firearms, including raising the minimum age for handgun ownership from 15 to 20. The proposal was prompted by two school massacres within a year in which lone gunmen opened fire on classmates and teachers.
[efoods]_Germany, where a gunman killed at least 11 people Wednesday, raised the legal age for owning recreational firearms from 18 to 21 following a 2002 shooting in Erfurt that killed 16 people, including 12 teachers.
_Belgian lawmakers passed strict new gun control laws in 2006 in reaction to the racially motivated shooting deaths of a toddler and her black baby sitter in Antwerp.
_Swiss citizens are demanding a referendum aimed at confining army weapons to military compounds and banning private purchases of pump-action rifles and automatic weapons â€” following a spate of suicides and homicides.
_The Portuguese Parliament is currently discussing a government proposal to tighten gun laws, including denying bail to anyone suspected of a gun crime.