Germany Cinema Shooting: Reminder That Gun Crime Is A Global Issue

When a shooting occurs in North America, residents tend to think in very insular terms; in other words, residents of a country tend to forget that other countries might experience similar crimes to ones they see. Such is the case with the Germany theater shooting June 23; while Reuters reports that no one was injured, the incident serves as a stark reminder that other nations, like Germany, might also experience a crime like a shooting.

The gunman in the Germany shooting was believed to have been holding hostages, and police took the threat seriously enough that they killed him. While the gunman did not have any identification on him, it’s believed that he was merely a disturbed individual who was acting alone, according to BBC News.

“The caller heard four shots and said that the masked man appeared a little mentally unstable,” Peter Beuth, the state interior minister of Hesse, said of the Germany shooting. “Police special forces were called.”

The gunman’s motives behind the attack remained unclear, according to several reports. There did not seem to be official confirmation that the gun used in the Germany shooting was even a genuine firearm, though there have been witnesses who have said they heard four shots fired.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, though, the United States continues to lead world statistics in gun-related shooting deaths. The report was released prior to the Orlando shootings June 12 that claimed 49 and well before the German shooting on June 23.

The report, which cited a study by associate professor Adam Lankford of the University of Alabama Department of Criminal Justice, said that countries with higher rates of gun ownership tended to rank higher when it came to mass shootings. Lankford studied mass shootings between 1966 and 2012 and defined a mass shooting as one in which four or more individuals were killed.

As far as gun ownership per capita is concerned, the United States ranks first according to the Small Arms Survey of 2011. At 89 guns owned per 100 residents, that accounts for some 270 million firearms throughout the United States — a per capita ranking that far outstrips that of Yemen, which ranks second at 55 firearms per 100 residents, or 11.5 million firearms. Switzerland ranks third in the survey, but reportedly that is more a result of that country’s conscription rather than a desire to collect guns.

Martin Field of the Small Arms Survey noted that “Correlations between gun ownership and gun crime are not exact,” which is important to bear in mind, particularly when one considers the German shooting. Germany ranks 15th in the survey when it comes to per capita gun ownership, at 30 guns owned per 100 residents and 25 million civilian firearms accounted for.

Germany has a population of nearly 82 million, while Switzerland’s population is around 7.3 million, according to Wikipedia. The two countries share a similar population density, however; Germany’s is at around 233 per square kilometer, while Switzerland boasts around 207 per square kilometer. However, it was Germany that had a recent shooting, not Switzerland. In fact, Switzerland’s last mass shooting dates back to 2013, when a reportedly disturbed person opened fire in a wood processing plant. Before that, it appears that one of the few mass shootings occurred in the early 1900s.

Fortunately, no one seems to have been injured during the German shooting. The worst injuries appear to have been from the tear gas used to incapacitate the shooter, who was shot dead by police. Unlike the recent shooting in Orlando, Florida, there appears to have been no terrorist agenda in the German shooting; the gunman in the Orlando shooting admitted, according to many reports, to supporting ISIS ideologies, though according to The Independent, the gunman in that case was likely self-radicalized rather than carrying out any firm terrorist plan.

Although some might question German gun laws in the immediate aftermath of the German shooting, Germany is the only country in the world where a psychiatric evaluation is required by a trained counselor before anyone under the age of 25 is permitted to have a firearms licence, according to The Guardian. It’s an interesting step, and one that perhaps should be considered in the United States and other countries that might be struggling to cope with gun related crimes.

[Photo by Alexander Scheuber/Getty Images]