Officials: At Least 10 Killed in Mass Shooting at University in Prague

A gunman who opened fire at Charles University in Prague on Thursday afternoon killed at least ten people and wounded dozens more, according to emergency services officials in the capital of the Czech Republic. Police officials say the shooting happened at the faculty of arts building on the university campus, which was still holding classes in advance of the Christmas break slated to begin on Saturday.


Authorities haven’t offered any motive for the attack, but report that the killer is no longer a threat.

The governor of the Prague region, Bohuslav Svoboda, said the shooter, so far unidentified, fell from the roof of the university’s faculty of arts building after opening fire on Jan Palach Square, an area of manicured lawns adjacent to the Vltava River that cuts through the Czech capital.

The police said the shooter had been “eliminated,” suggesting he had died, but did not specify how. They also said that the Faculty of Arts building, located in Prague’s Old Town, had been evacuated. The square next to it has been sealed off. Videos posted on social media showed people running away.

As the New York Times reports, shootings of any kind are exceedingly rare in the Czech Republic. In 2021 there were just seven homicides in the country, with a population of 10.5 million. In fact, last November the Washington Post ran an in-depth story on the country’s gun laws, noting that it’s the only country in Europe to recognize the right to keep and bear arms, but highlighting the fact that gun ownership is contingent on passing an extensive test.


Czech lawmakers and gun owners say their national system dramatically increases the odds of responsible ownership. The rules also require a health clearance and a background check, and demand safe storage of weapons once they are purchased. In a country more populous than New York City, there were seven homicides using guns during all of last year.

“We really have bad politics in many ways here — corruption. But something I am proud of is this law,” said Martin Fiser, 35, a weapons instructor. “It can be a model for the rest of the world.”

The test is obligatory for anybody who wants a weapon, including hunters, collectors, even someone inheriting a shotgun from a grandfather. The standards are high: The test consists of questions randomly drawn from a pool of 501 possible. Those trying to obtain the hardest-to-get license — for concealed carry — can miss no more than one question. The failure rate is around 40 percent.

While violent crime is rare, the country has been home to mass shootings in the past. In 2015 eight people were killed in an attack at a restaurant in the town of Uherský Brod by a legal gun owner who’d passed the required test and background checks, and in 2019 a killer who wasn’t legally allowed to possess a firearm opened fire at a hospital in the city of Ostrava.


There are still a lot of unanswered questions about today’s attack at Charles University, including who the suspect was, his motivation, and his eligibility to possess a firearm. What we do know is that despite the claims of gun control activists that the United States is the only place on earth where these kinds of mass murders take place, horrific tragedies like today’s murders can and do happen anywhere… including countries with far more restrictive gun control laws than what is found here.

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