Germany faces calls to tighten arms possession laws and intensify efforts to track down sympathizers of the extreme-right after authorities revealed a racist statement released by the suspect in one of the country’s worst indiscriminate shootings since World War Two.
The suspect who killed nine people in two hookah smoking cafes in the southwestern German town of Hanau published the document on the Internet late on Wednesday, expressing his belief in conspiracy theories and embracing extremist racist views.
The 43-year-old suspect, who is believed to have killed himself and his mother after the attack, was a member of an arms club, raising questions about how a man with such racist ideas was able to obtain club membership and then obtain the weapons he used in the attack.
The newspaper Bild, the best-selling German newspaper, published on its front page an article saying, “We need new, more stringent laws to verify the owners of licenses to carry hunting and firearms.”
“We immediately need more (intelligence) elements to monitor right-wing extremists and intervene before it is too late,” it added.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the newspaper that the government would initiate reforms to intensify the weapons owners’ verification. “It is not just a matter of whether someone has stored their weapon properly or kept ammunition separate from the weapon – it should also be related to very personal matters.”
The ministry said in a statement that it was considering conducting such audits in cases where the weapons owners are eye-catching to the authorities, adding that no psychological tests will be conducted.
Federal Prosecutor Peter Frank said on Friday that the suspect had a license to carry two weapons, and it was not yet clear whether he had contacts with other right-wing sympathizers at home or abroad.
Frank added that the gunman sent a letter to the prosecution office in November complaining about an unknown intelligence agency with powers to control people’s thoughts and actions.
“The letter did not include his racist calls to exterminate certain people,” Frank told a news conference. We did not initiate an investigation based on the message, which again appeared in the racist statement of the armed man. ”
In October, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel banned the sale of weapons to members of extremist groups monitored by the security services and obliged online platforms to report to the police any content that encouraged hatred.
The measures came after the killing of a German pro-immigration politician in June and an attack four months later on a synagogue and a restaurant in the city of Halle by an anti-Semitic militant.
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