The BBC is reporting that an student armed with a knife and a makeshift crossbow has murdered a teacher in Barcelona, Spain. “The suspect, reportedly a 13-year-old boy, has been arrested but may not face charges because of his age. The teacher killed was protecting a colleague during the incident at the Instituto Joan Fuster, reports say. Four other people were wounded. Police have not confirmed the weapon used and there is no indication of his motive.” . . .
The boy was said to have arrived late for class…and wounded a Spanish language teacher and her daughter, who was also a student.
A good guy — without a gun — attempted to respond.
Hearing screams, a male teacher…entered the classroom and was fatally wounded when the boy attacked him.
A police spokesman could not confirm whether he had been fatally wounded by the boy’s knife or his makeshift crossbow.
According to students interviewed at the scene, the crossbow had allegedly been “fashioned out of wood and ballpoint pens….”
This is a tragedy and I have nothing but condolences and sympathy for the victims of this apparently senseless crime.
The Library of Congress has an interesting page titled “Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy: Spain”, by Senior Foreign Law Specialist Graciela Rodriguez-Ferrand. Ms. Rodriguez-Ferrand advises that under the Spanish Reglamento de Armas (R.A.), crossbows are regulated alongside firearms. Spain has nine different types of arms licenses; crossbows can be possessed by citizens with a Class E License. Such weapons are supposed to be stored in a safe; weapons must be carried from their permanent storage to a shooting range in secure and locked container.
Firearms “must be marked with a unique identifying mark when manufactured, to allow them to be traced and tracked according to the procedures established in the R.A.”
Spain has a rather long history with ‘firearms-control.’ The modern Kingdom of Spain is the direct successor to the Spanish State established by the infamous dictator Francisco Franco. Franco came to power after a botched coup that resulted in a bloody, three-year-long civil war. He was denied easy victory because people loyal to the republican government opened up weapons caches and took up arms to resist.
Later in the war, as the republican government became increasingly dominated by communists aligned with the Soviet Union, the government attempted to confiscate all privately-held weapons in Barcelona. It says a lot about ideology trumping common sense when a government on the losing side in a bloody civil war fought against a Nazi-backed regime decides it needs to disarm its own people.
After the war, Franco’s dictatorial government imposed strict gun control common in places like New Jersey or New York City: firearms were completely banned for the common people, but were permitted for those who were political supporters of those in power, or otherwise prominent. By the time of his death in 1975, according to the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture, approximately 100,000 supporters of the regime were permitted to carry firearms.
After Franco’s death, the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, and the rise of a parliamentary form of government, many of Spain’s laws have changed in both form and substance. But the gun control laws survived.
Shockingly, the crossbow prohibition had little effect in this case.
DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice on this subject, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.