Shocked Finland mourns dead students and rethinks law

14:33, 24 September 2008
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"It`s a small town and safe but I don`t know if it`s safe anymore..."

Finland mourned the dead of its second school shooting in less than a year on Wednesday, and questioned whether it was time to clamp down hard on private gun ownership, Reuters reported.

The main national daily Helsingin Sanomat replaced its usual front-page advertisement with a large picture of a woman adding a candle to a memorial in front of the school. The text above a picture of Saari read "Why?"

"The Web cannot be held responsible for this, but you can certainly ask how much the Web feeds the dark side of human nature," the paper said in an editorial.

Matti Saari, 22, shot and killed 10 people on Tuesday at a vocational school in Kauhajoki in western Finland -- days after drawing police attention with online videos of himself at a gun range -- and then turned the gun on himself.

He died later of a head wound in Tampere University Hospital.

Finnish media focussed heavily on how police, alerted to Saari`s videos, could question him on Monday but not confiscate the gun, how Saari could get a gun in the first place, and how to tighten Finland`s gun law.

On Tuesday Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said Finland should consider banning private handguns altogether.

Gun ownership in Finland is among the highest in the world, but crime rates are low.

"The Kauhajoki shooter had a new gun permit for a small-calibre gun. Those calibres were enough, however, to end the lives of many young people and spread senseless pain and destruction widely," Helsingin Sanomat said.

The Nordic nation has only started to recover from last November`s school shooting, when 18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen killed eight people, and then himself.

Finnish media focussed on the similarities between the two shootings, including the use of boastful YouTube videos and the same calibre handgun.

"I am so scared and don`t know what to do ... I thought this is a safe area. I`ve been living here for all my life. It`s a small town and safe but I don`t know if it`s safe anymore," said 17-year old Sanna Orpana, who was in Kauhajoki school during the shooting.

Reuters

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