German gov't abandons plan to cut minimum age for firearms possession

Germany's interior minister on Monday abandoned a proposal to reduce the minimum age for legally possessing firearms - increased after a school shooting in 2002 - following widespread criticism even from within the governing coalition. The Interior Ministry said on Sunday that it was considering reducing to 18 from 21 the lower limit for buying and possessing large-caliber firearms for recreational use, such as those used on rifle ranges, while introducing a new psychological suitability test for potential owners under age 25. It said that the proposal had been made in anticipation of an effort to harmonize rules across the European Union. The ministry also said the increase from 18, introduced after a teenager fatally shot 16 people and himself at his former school in Erfurt in 2002, had not been proved to bring added safety. Following criticism from both sides of Chancellor Angela Merkel's left-right "grand coalition," Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble intervened Monday to stop the plan.