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Germans rush for weapons licences amid public anxiety

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A blank pistol. Photo: DPA
12:22 CET+01:00
The number of Germans holding licences for non-lethal weapons rose sharply over the last three months, as the refugee influx appears to have unleashed a wave of public insecurity.

Between November and January the number of non-lethal weapons licences rose by 21,000, bringing the total to 301,000 nationwide. The numbers come from a request made to the interior ministry by Green Party MP Irene Mihalic.

Mihalic, who is herself a trained police officer, said the numbers were worrying.

“It’s not hard to imagine people at big events jumping for their weapon too quickly and in the end inciting violence or chaos through their actions,” she said.

These licences allow holders to carry blank-firing guns, pepper spray and other sprayed deterrents.

There are as yet no numbers available for the number of such weapons sold in the past few months.

But many weapons shops in and around Cologne reported selling out of pepper spray in the days after hundreds of women reported being sexually assaulted by men of North African or Arabic appearance during New Year on the city’s streets.

Mihalovic . who is Green Party spokesperson for internal security, explained the increase in demand for licences through a growing sense of insecurity in the population.

But she warned that “if more people are carrying weapons it will lead to an escalation rather than a calming of the situation.”

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The government needs to close loopholes in weapons licencing laws, Mihalovic said, arguing that the purchase of pepper spray and blank-firing pistols must only be allowed for those who hold a licence.

“In light of the constant threat of a terror attack there is much that we need in terms of internal security, but we certainly don’t need more weapons,” she said.

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