Things to know about guns in Germany

Things to know about guns in Germany

Germany has one of the world’s largest rates of gun ownership, and one of the lowest rates of gun-related deaths as well. The Local is looking at a few other facts that may surprise you. Below are 5 Things to know about guns in Germany

1. Germany has some of the strictest gun laws in Europe

The German gun control system is described by the US Library of Congress as one of the most stringent in Europe.”

And Professor Christian Pfeiffer, of the Lower Saxony Criminology Research Institute, also told The Local that the laws of Germany were some of the toughest in the world.

Unlike Americans under the Second Amendment, G

ermans do not have constitutional rights to bear arms, and the violent history of the country, including the Nazi period, has definitely helped shape the current strict regulations.

Germans must first obtain a weapons ownership license (Waffenbesitzkarte) in order to get a gun, and you may need a different one for each weapon you purchase, or a license to carry (Waffenschein).

License applicants must be at least 18 years of age and undergo a so-called reliability check, which involves testing for criminal history, if the individual is an alcohol or drug abuser, if they have mental disorder or any other traits that could make them suspicious to the authorities.

Things to know about guns in Germany
Things to know about guns in Germany

2. Fourth-highest gun ownership rate worldwide

But the nation was still home to the fourth-highest number of legal weapons per capita in 2013, trailing behind only the United States, Switzerland and Finland, also given Germany’s stringent weapons policies.

With a population of more than 80 million, nearly 2 million people possess more than 5.5 million legal arms in Germany.

In addition, police unions have claimed that there are up to 20 million more weapons in Germany that are illegally owned, which would mean about 30 guns for every group of 100 people.

3. One of the lowest rates of gun-related deaths worldwide

But even with the country’s comparatively high number of weapons, according to international study by the University of Sydney, Germany has one of the lowest rates of gun-related deaths per year.

Over the past 20 years, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office, “crimes against life” – including murder and negligent homicide – involving weapons have fallen from 783 in 1995 to 130 in 2015 (BKA).

In 2015, of those killings, only 57 were deliberate murders.

According to, this pales compared to the rates in the US where firearms murders reach 11,000 people killed per year or about 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

The rate barely exceeds 0.07 deaths per 100,000 individuals in Germany.

4. Mass shootings have led to stricter gun laws

Several mass attacks have had a great effect on the regulation of gun control over the past two decades. A 19-year-old who was expelled from his high school in Erfurt in 2002 took a semi-automatic weapon to school and killed 16 people until he killed himself.

The German parliament reacted by passing significant revisions to the laws on weapons, including increasing the minimum age for the acquisition of a firearm and requiring a psychological test for individuals under 25 years of age.

An 18-year-old went to his former school in Emsdetten in 2006 and before killing himself, shot and wounded five people. This has culminated in limits on the selling to minors of violent video games.

SEE ALSO: How a school shooting altered Germany 15 years ago

Then in 2009, a 17-year-old went with a semi-automatic gun to his old school in Winnenden, Baden-Württemberg, killing a total of 15 people at the school and while escaping from the police.

There has also been a drop-off in gun violence following those mass shootings.

5. No major mass shootings between 2009 and 2016

The 2009 Winnenden massacre was Germany’s last mass shooting, identified as four or more people killed in a public location, until a mass shooting took place in Munich in July 2016, according to criminologist Christian Pfeiffer.

The 18-year-old Munich perpetrator murdered nine other people and was allegedly obsessed with mass killers like the far-right Norwegian extremist Anders Behring Breivik: the shooting took place five years earlier on the same day as Breivik’s attacks.

Other rampage shootings have resulted in less than four deaths in recent years, such as when a man shot two people dead in what seemed to be random killings in 2015.

Meanwhile, according to the Gun Violence Archive, the US had more than 60 shootings as of March 2017, killing or injuring at least four people.

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