Killings prompt talks on gun control regulations

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Killings prompt talks on gun control regulations

The government and the ruling Saenuri Party met Monday at the National Assembly, where they agreed to tighten gun control regulations in light of two fatal shooting sprees last week that occurred just days apart.

Authorities hope to prevent gun-related deaths and accidents by strictly prohibiting gun owners from keeping firearms and ammunition in their personal care.

Officials decided on Monday that guns will now be tracked with GPS so that firearms may be easily located if they go missing.

“The possession of guns will be strictly prohibited without exception,” Saenuri Policy Committee Chairman Won Yoo-chul said after the meeting.

Under current law, most individuals who own guns are required to deposit their firearms at police stations and may retrieve them daily during the winter hunting season.

However, gun owners are allowed to personally keep air guns with a caliber of 5.5 millimeters or smaller and a maximum of 400 rounds of ammunition. Currently, there are about 60,000 air guns countrywide that are not kept at police stations, according to police estimates.

Authorities also plan to come up with measures to prohibit gun use outside of hunting zones.

“We have agreed to demand that shooters buy ammunition only around hunting zones and return remaining ammunition to local police stations after hunting,” said an official on the Saenuri Policy Committee. “What we are trying to do is eliminate the possibility that live ammunition could be used for crimes outside hunting zones.”

Violators will have their gun licenses revoked and will be permanently banned from using firearms. Those convicted of violence or other impulsive crimes will also be disqualified from obtaining a license.

On Friday morning, a 75-year-old man went on a rampage at his brother’s house in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, killing his 86-year-old brother, his sister-in-law and a police officer sent to the scene, before turning the shotgun on himself.

Taking into account that the slain officer, Lee Kang-seok, was the chief of a local police substation, government officials Monday agreed to provide bulletproof equipment to patrol divisions and substations.

Lee was fatally shot in the chest as he attempted to get inside the house.

The guidelines for police officers on how to handle armed criminals are also set to be revised, the official on the Saenuri Policy Committee said.

However, it remains to be seen whether those measures can effectively reduce or eradicate gun-related crimes in the country.

The ruling Saenuri Party pointed out in the meeting that weapons smuggling and proliferation remains a serious issue in Korea, as well as the illegal reinforcement of certain air guns used for hunting.

Last year, several video clips showing the creation and firing of pistols produced via a 3-D printer went viral online.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]



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