May 9th, 2009 09:04 AM
Strange? Germany May Seek Ban on Paintball
Tightening Weapons Laws: Germany May Seek Ban on Paintball - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
In response to the Winnenden school shooting in March, the German government is moving ahead with a plan to ban paintball, which politicians describe as a game that glorifies murder and teaches people to kill.
Members of GSG9 paintball team take up positions during a training session in Rio de Janeiro. The team named itself after Germany's elite GSG-9 anti-terrorism force. Will these players soon be forced to give up their game?
Two months after the deadly school shooting in the southern German town of Winnenden, the German government is planning to ban paintball. The tragic March event saw a young man named Tim K. shoot 15 people before turning his gun on himself.
According to reports in the Berliner Zeitung and Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspapers on Friday, games like paint ball and laser tag are to be banned in Germany in the future, and people who violate the law could be fined up to €5,000.
"These games simulate murder," Wolfgang Bosbach, who heads the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) in the German parliament, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. He said a deal had also been reached with German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
The German Paintball League claims about 1,000 people in the country are active in the sport and there are more than 200 facilities where it is played. The organization has sought for years to portray the sport as a safe one. At tournaments, players even eschew red paint because of its optical similarities to blood and the guns used in the sport are referred to as "markers."
The head of the league said he was surprised by the plan to ban what he called a "tactical team sport." But "during an election campaign," he said, "politicians are always looking for a fall guy."
The government has been under pressure to act since the mass killings two months ago. A German Interior Ministry spokesman said Thursday that the government hoped to pass new weapons control legislation before the end of the current term. A political agreement is expected next week and legislation would have to be introduced by the end of May in order for it to be voted on in both of Germany's federal legislative chambers before the summer break in July.
"Teaching People to Kill"
The interior minister of the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, Holger Hölvelmann, welcomed the government's plans. He argued that the game was tantamount to "teaching people to kill" or "playing war." "Our society," he said, "should outlaw such cynical games that glorify violence."
Meanwhile, Claudia Roth, the chairwoman of the Green Party, described the proposed tightening of weapons laws as a "courage-less concession to the gun lobby." Instead of banning large calibre guns in general, the coalition government has only managed to agree on a token ban on paintball." By doing so, she said, "the coalition is tightening weapons laws in areas that are the least painful to the gun lobby."
Her party's legal affairs expert, Jerzy Montag, said that while he is no fan of such games ("Do you really need to shoot paint at other people?"), he didn't see any advantage in banning them. "The real issue is the millions of guns kept in peoples homes and at sporting clubs," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
During the debate over Tim K., his passion for paintball was much-discussed. But it was soft-air guns that were found in his bedroom. They can also be used to shoot paint-filled pellets, but they are far more similar to actual weapons than paint guns.
The debate over paintball is not new. The German company "Mydays.de," markets paintball as the "ultimate nerve game and the latest sporting trend." But again and again, paintball makes the headlines because it is played at events in Europe held by right-wing extremists or military freaks. In 2007, photos circulated of the head of Austria's right-wing FPÖ party, Heinz-Christian Strache, playing paintball in uniform with a group of right-wing extremists. Press reports spoke of Wehrmacht-like exercises, a reference to Hitler's military, but Strache played the event down, saying he had just been playing paintball.
Childish, maybe. But criminal? No.
Konrad Freiberg, chairman of the Germany police union GdP, said he doesn't think much of banning simulated fighting games. "People may consider this type of extracurricular activity childish or dumb, but I would dare to doubt that it has any criminological connection to serious crimes," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
For his part, Rainer Wendt, the head of the German Police Union (DPolG), says it would be difficult to implement the plans. "Politicians are the only people who think they can alter reality by filling up so much paper," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. He said a ban would make no sense if it could not be enforced. "It has to be made clear to everyone that police in Germany have no time to go out chasing paintball players in forests and fields."
Paintball fans have also up in arms over the plan. "In my opinion, it's just a fun sport that anyone can play, " said Ramona Ruth of Berlin, who opened a paintball field in the town of Angermünde just one month ago. "Twenty to 30 percent of the people who come to us are women."
She said politicians also like to play. Recently, she claims, a group of politicians from the CDU played paintball at her facility.
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch; Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."
-- Benjamin Franklin
May 9th, 2009 09:29 AM
They came, decided they didn't enjoy it so no one should, so they could ban it. At least they tried it first.
Originally Posted by JonInNY
May 9th, 2009 09:51 AM
Very telling comment about the 'military freaks.' Would that include ALL of those who serve in the military, or are they talking about the geek 'wanna-bes' and mall ninjas?
Originally Posted by JonInNY
When will they learn that murder/murder sprees by idiots will not be deterred by words on a piece of paper? Just one more example of politicians trying to ensure job security...
Last edited by miklcolt45; May 9th, 2009 at 09:53 AM.
Reason: removed extraneous text
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliott
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
May 9th, 2009 10:09 AM
May 9th, 2009 04:20 PM
I am glad I don't live in Europe.Way too socialist for me !They do make super
air rifles and scope set ups cause that's about all they can have home everything else has to be keep at a club.
May 9th, 2009 05:15 PM
Could move to Switzerland? Every male between the ages of 18 and 42 is required to serve in the military and then afterwards is issued a rifle (STG90 aka SIG550, one of the best and most accurate rifles in the world) and ammo for it in case of national emergency. That's over 600,000 fully automatic weapons amongst the population. And one of the lowest homicide rates in the world. Only Israel has a larger military on a person/sq mile basis.
Originally Posted by Stetson
"I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, you can't prove anything!" Bart Simpson
May 9th, 2009 10:09 PM
PLUS - it doesn't end at age 42. At that time, the full-auto weapon is turned in and a semi-auto issued in its place.
Originally Posted by BradyM77
May 10th, 2009 03:35 PM
Unfortunately, there are gun control advocates in Switzerland and they have been getting louder.
Fortunately, shooting remains a very popular sport there (one thing going for us is that the popularity of shooting sports is increasing in the U.S. in spite of the best efforts of the Bradys and their ilk).
Those who will not govern their own behavior are slaves waiting for a master; one will surely find them.
May 10th, 2009 04:08 PM
This is just a preview of things to come for this country.
We are witnessing the feminazation of the male human genome. I'll cut out the middle-man and go get my vasectomy now please.
May 10th, 2009 04:37 PM
Uh, folks, Germany has a "special history" with "right wing extremists" and lunatics within their population. At one point not that long ago they were a nation of lunatics. They caused and prosecuted a war which ultimately killed about 70 million people world wide; I think 400,000 victims were American servicemen.
Hitler didn't do it by himself. He had plenty of popular support from the general population, and probably from the great majority of the general population. Of course nowadays they all say 'I,' or "dad," or "Grandpa" "never vas a Natzi."
There are special reasons why the present government of Germany must take positions and precautions which we would not think of; e.g., jailing folks for certain behaviors and ideas which we allow to be expressed.
While post WWII West Germany did a great deal to educate its people about their bad past (some of the education happening at the point of US, British and French rifles), the communist East German government did little or nothing in this area. When the country was reunited in the 1980s, a lot of old Nazis were brought back into the society from East Germany. And the sons and grandsons of old Nazis.
We can't judge the Germany Government's reactions to events by our standards. There is a certain vigilance that the government of Germany must take to keep the virus of hate, xenophobia, and other extremism from reigniting itself.
The "paintball" games may or may not be innocent. They may or may not be a real issue of concern. That isn't for us to judge. It is for their government to suppress the old residual sentiments which still lurk in the hearts of a subset of their people.
Last edited by Hopyard; May 10th, 2009 at 08:47 PM.
Reason: to correct a typo
May 11th, 2009 02:42 AM
This is ridiculous. They have a military but can't play paintball...just silly.
May 11th, 2009 02:43 AM
You would think that they could come up with something better to do with their time. Paint ball guns!!!
"Gun control is being able to hit your target."
May 11th, 2009 07:22 AM
I think some people simply have a problem with their brains being missing...
AT3 (O-Level) United States Navy - NRA Life Member
"Molan labe! Just try... I'll show you the strength of my conviction... and I'll sleep well that night..."
May 11th, 2009 10:04 AM
No, not silly at all
For the many here who are somewhat younger than I am, the events of WWII and its run up are ancient history and have little or no relevance in your lives. If you were born after 1970 that period is not only irrelevant ancient history in your mind, but so is much of the cold war that followed.
Originally Posted by PNUT
For the Germans and especially for other Europeans, there is a history and a justifiable concern regarding the reformation of fringe groups and where that might lead.
While on the surface, to us, it may seem silly that a country with a military would ban paintball games, it isn't silly. They are trying to deemphasize violence within their society, prevent a resurgence of militarism and militaristic thought patterns, and prevent the coming together of folks who they think may be doing more than playing a game.
The government of Germany must act--to use a somewhat poor analogy-- the way a person who knows they have a mental illness must act. They must be vigilant to not allow the symptoms to surface and gain control.
Within the context of German history and character, this ban is not outrageous. We can not judge it from our perspective.
Don't forget that these are the people who brought us two world wars. Their present government, and most of the people there as well, know very well that they need to be very vigilant against a return to the old ways.
As for their having a military, for most of the past half century or more they have been very limited. Forbidden by their own laws and treaties from using troops outside of Germany. I was quite surprised when they were asked, and agreed, to send a few soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq, as using troops outside their border has been something off limits to them--and with good reason-- for many decades now.
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