HELSINKI, Finland – Two teenage boys, allegedly influenced by the recent school shooting in Finland, were arrested Friday on charges of conspiring to murder a school principal and a janitor, police officials and media reports said.
Meanwhile, Finland officials on Friday said they were ready to raise the minimum age for buying firearms from 15 to 18, as a teenage killer's deadly school rampage brought focus on the hunting-prone nation's gun laws and inspired the copycat plot in Sweden.
"It's obvious that this kind of tragic incident has probably sped up the decision," Interior Ministry spokesman Ilkka Salmi said of the plan to raise the age.
In Sweden, The boys, 16 and 17 years old, were arrested in Stockholm early Friday after police received information that they were planning murder, police spokeswoman Karin Solberg told the Associated Press.
One of them was also suspected of making threats, she said.
Solberg declined to comment on the type of information police had received, or to whom the threats had been directed, referring to the suspects' protection as minors.
According to Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter, the two boys — students at a high school in a Stockholm suburb — had threatened to kill the school principal and the janitor.
"There is a threat against me which ... has been directed toward me personally, but I don't want to get into it any more than that," Rolf Oden, principal at the Enskede Gards Gymnasium, told the newspaper.
He declined to give details on the threats.
"These two boys are clearly inspired by the events in Finland," he said.
On Wednesday, an 18-year-old boy opened fire in his high school in southern Finland, killing eight other people and himself.
Oden said the boys in Stockholm "had a fascination with guns and these type of events."
Police spokeswoman Solberg said the arrest was undramatic and the boys were being interrogated.
In Finland, with world's third highest rate of gun ownership behind the United States and Yemen, 15-year-olds can buy guns if parents approve.
A government committee proposed changing the law to prohibit minors from buying guns, although they would still be allowed to use them under parental supervision. It was not immediately clear when the Parliament would vote on the law change, Salmi said.
The United States has an estimated 270 million guns in circulation, about nine for every 10 people, according to the annual Small Arms Survey. Other countries with high per capita gun ownership include Yemen, with 61 small arms per 100 people; Finland with 56; Switzerland with 46; and Iraq with 39, according to the annual Small Arms Survey, a Swiss group based in Geneva.
In southern Finland on Wednesday, an 18-year-old student opened fire in his high school, killing eight people and himself in a shooting spree that stunned the Nordic country.
Pekka-Eric Auvinen, a bullied teenage outcast with radical views, emptied nearly 20 rounds into some of the victims — six students, a school nurse and the principal, police said. He also tried to set the school building on fire before shooting himself in the head.
Finland has previously insisted that 15-year-olds should be allowed to buy guns when discussing firearm rules with other European nations. But now Finland "does now want to oppose" an effort to raise the age limit to 18 that "all other EU countries are ready to accept," Interior Minister Anne Holmlund said.