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Security minister to tighten Dutch gun laws

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)

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