The guns of Winnenden and Geneva

One year ago today, 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer shot 15 people to death in two small towns near Stuttgart, Germany. Then he committed suicide. Nine of the slain were students at a school where Kretschmer had graduated a year earlier.

One year and one day ago, Michael McLendon went on a systematic killing spree in two small towns in Alabama. He hunted down his own relatives and their neighbors. He killed eleven before shooting himself to death.

Kretschmer’s killing spree caused a nationwide revulsion in Germany, of a kind that we in the United States have forgotten how to feel. German President Horst Koehler was in Winnenden today to commemorate the dead, and to call for tougher gun laws. Last year the state parliament of Baden-Württemberg doubled the appropriation for school psychologists.

Kretschmer’s father, whose gun collection provided the weapons his son used in the rampage, expressed his regret by voluntarily surrendering his firearms ownership permit. The gesture has not prevented officials from charging him with the equivalent of manslaughter. Continue reading “The guns of Winnenden and Geneva”