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Friday 25 April  

Security minister to tighten Dutch gun laws

Published on 11 September 2011 - 2:57pm
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Security and Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten says he is going to ban semi-automatic rifles.

Minister Opstelten referred to the massacre in the Dutch town of Alpen aan den Rijn in April of this year, when a man used a semi-automatic rifle as well as a pistol and a revolver to kill six people and injure 17 others before killing himself.

“Such weapons”, the security minister said, “are not intended for use at a shooting club. They’re made to hit moving targets. It’s unacceptable for members of a shooting club to have such a weapon, let alone keep one at home”.

Though the minister is still awaiting a number of reports on the massacre, he announced he would begin to tackle the issue by changing the existing regulations concerning firearms licences and shooting clubs.

To prevent another massacre, Mr Opstelten called on mental health workers to alert the police whenever they detect worrying symptoms - even if they have to breach their professional confidentiality.

Two years before the Alphen aan den Rijn massacre, police had the gunman locked up in a psychiatric facility. Nonetheless, he was later issued with a gun permit.Several mental health workers and institutions who were aware of the threat he posed failed to report him to the police, claiming their professional confidentiality prevented them from doing so.

(cl/gsh/ae)

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Discussion

Anonymous 16 September 2011 - 12:59pm / new Zealand

This news item proves two things- first that gun laws are about selectively disarming the law-abiding not the criminal or madman, and secondly that Holland has succeeded in appointing an idiot as minister of security and justice.

Equally clearly he is not alone if other Dutch lawmakers cannot see the dangerous conflict of interest they have. How can the person responsible for the security of the state also ensure the state delivers justice to its citizens,especially those who might be charged with offences against the state? Its not too hard to guess which side will win and suggests that not all the laws Hitler put in place during the occupation were thrown onto the rubbish heap in 1945.

Let us apply a little long overdue logic.It is very clear the Alphen aan den Rijn massacre was committed by a madman. A madman various State agencies knew about for years but did nothing because they felt themselves unable to restrict his civil rights.That is surely where efforts to "fix" the problem should be focussed.

Yet we hear the mini-ster has already announced his intention to restrict the rights of law abiding citizens because of the actions of a madman even though he is "still waiting for reports". Since this is hardly the sequence of events an intelligent man would follow, it is clear that dishonesty and expediency are higher on the ministers agenda than ensuring accountability and competency from police and mental health services.

I wonder if as mini-ster of justice Ivo Opstelten has considered doing his job properly and actually holding those mental health professionals who stayed silent and those police officers who failed to use their brains and gave a madman a gun licence legally responsible for their failure.

Madness, even madness with a gun is not a problem a gun law can fix. The most focussed and most just solution would see those culpable for the Alphen aan den Rijn massacre all face a minimum charges of criminal negligence.

Ensuring legal and professional accountability in this way would be a much more effective way of making sure police and psychiatric professionals did their job properly in the future. Once again, it seems the self-serving interests of the state have trumped both justice and common sense and cost law-abiding Dutch citizens a little more of their rights and liberty.

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