Soul-searching in Finland after deadly school shooting

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Soul-searching in Finland after deadly school shooting

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Flags are flying at half mast in Finland, as a nation in shock tries to understand the reasons behind yesterday’s second deadly school shooting in less than a year.

After a young man at a hospitality school shot dead 10 of his classmates and then killed himself, the country’s president says a national dialogue on gun ownership will begin.

Echoing a deadly attack at a school near Helsinki last November, in which nine people died, the shooter in yesterday’s incident posted menacing comments and videos of himself wielding a gun on the Internet, before going on the rampage.

The police are under the spotlight: they questioned 22-year-old Matti Saari about the videos on Monday, but said they did not confiscate his gun because there was no precise threat to anyone.

In Europe, only Switzerland comes close to Finland in terms of gun ownership, with almost one in three people owning a firearm.

Finland also has one of the world’s highest suicide rates among young people.

One young man in a city near the scene of the latest shooting said: “It is sad to hear but the problem is different. I don’t think it has so much to do with guns and the Internet. It is the mental illness, that people get stranded. I think it is a national problem.”

The Finnish government says it already has strict controls on who can obtain a gun permit, which requires someone to be at least 15-years-old.

But it says the use of handguns and automatics over traditional hunting rifles needs to be re-examined.