GunsGermany Tightens Gun Control Laws

Published 13 December 2019

The Bundestag has on Friday approved new firearm regulations, requiring gun owners to undergo a security check-up every five years, and justify their need to own a firearm. Hunters, collectors, and sportsmen will be exempted. Critics from the left said the law does not go far enough to deal with homemade weapons, while the far-right Alternative for Germany said the law would deprive thousands of Germans of their rights.

The Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, on Friday approved new and tougher gun control regulations, which include a controversial measure requiring that any owner of a firearm be subject to regular security “check up” by the BfV, the country’s domestic intelligence agency.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that the government’s goal is “no weapons in the hands of extremists.” The new regulation also brought an amended European Firearms Directive into German law so as to make it more difficult for criminals and terrorists to get obtain weapons.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that the security check-up requires not only that anyone who owns a gun in Germany be examined every five years, but that they owners of firearms will have to justify why they need a gun in the first place.

Anyone who is a member or an affiliate of an “unconstitutional group” will be denied a firearms license.

Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said, “I do not want to wait until arms get into the hands of right-wing extremists.”

Opposition politicians have pointed out that similar regulations and restrictions are already on the books, but that that they have not proved effective. Martina Renner of the opposition Left party told DW that “the murderers of Walter Lübcke had a firearms license” and yet the BfV in the state of Hesse had no concerns allowing a well-known right wing extremist to have a gun.

Lübcke, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party and a supporter of her open-door immigration policy, was shot in the head at his home by a neo-Nazi last June.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) also criticized the law, saying it “massively restricts blameless citizens in their freedoms.”

The Green party joined the Left faction in criticizing the new legislation for not going far enough imposing restrictions on homemade firearms. On 9 October, a man killed two bystanders after trying to enter and attack a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle. The killer used homemade, 3D-printed weapons.

Bowing to pressures from hunters and collectors, the government amended the legislation to accommodate hunters and sportsmen, making the license test less bureaucratic and expensive. Also, sports shooters will not have to justify their use of weapon. Membership in a shooting or hunting club will reduce requirements further.