Finland School Shooting: 12-Year-Old Suspect Detained After 1 Dead and 2 Injured

A young boy fatally shot a 12-year-old student and wounded two others at a school in Finland on Tuesday, the police said, a rare act of violence by a child in a country that changed its gun laws after earlier school shootings but where gun ownership remains widespread.

The police said they had detained a suspect, also 12 years old, who had a handgun, about an hour after arriving at the Viertola school, in the city of Vantaa, about 10 miles north of Helsinki. He is accused of murder and attempted murder, the police said.

As is customary with criminal investigations in Finland, the police did not release the suspect’s name.

“We as society have learned from the earlier sad school shootings,” the national police chief, Seppo Kolehmainen, said at a news conference — but he added, “We did not manage to prevent the act in this sad event.”

“We will find out later why,” he said.

Finland tightened its gun laws after two school shootings, in 2007 and 2008, in which 20 people died, including the perpetrators. Those shootings inspired a heated debate over firearm legislation in a country of hunters and gun enthusiasts.

A law introduced in 2011 raised the age limit for acquiring handguns to 20, made it compulsory for applicants to pass an aptitude test and added a requirement that doctors report anyone they deemed unfit to own a gun.

Yet Finland still has one of the highest rates of firearm possession in Europe, according to the 2018 Small Arms Survey, conducted by the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.

Under Finnish law, permits for firearms can be granted only to people who can demonstrate “an acceptable purpose of use” and are considered fit based on their health and behavior.

It was unclear how the student in Tuesday’s shooting had obtained the handgun, but the police said that the weapon was licensed to a close relative of the suspect.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo told the news conference that, especially given the young age of the attacker and the victims, “The shooting incident at the Viertola school is deeply shocking and leaves you speechless.”

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