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Finns must monitor gun nuts on Internet

FINNISH authorities should monitor the Internet more effectively and tighten licensing of firearms to prevent more gun massacres in schools, a government commission said yesterday.

The inquiry was set up after 18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen shot eight people and himself in November 2007 in Jokela High School near Helsinki. Less than a year later Matti Saari, 22, killed 10 people and himself at a vocational school in Kauhajoki, western Finland.

Both men had permits for the guns they used. Both posted videos indicating their plans on YouTube before their shooting sprees.

"New systems should be developed through which Internet service providers can inform authorities on observations indicating a severe crime," Tuulikki Petajaniemi, the head of the commission, told a news conference.

Finland has one of the world's highest rates of gun ownership, with about 1.6 million registered arms in a country of 5.3 million people. The minimum age for gun ownership is 15 but the government is preparing new legislation that is most likely to raise it to 18.

"The new law should relevantly tighten regulations on licensing of firearms, especially for carrying handguns, and measures to significantly decrease the number of firearms," Petajaniemi said.

The government should also work to combat bullying and marginalization and improve mental health care services for young people, the commission said.


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