Gun sales and gun permit applications have soared in Germany in the wake of the sex attacks in Cologne on New Years Eve. Cologne, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt are all reporting an influx of requests for permits with Cologne police estimating at least 304 applications since the attacks. In 2015 the entire year saw only 408 applications total in the city.
Spokesman Andre Hartwich of the Düsseldorf police estimates at least eight to ten application requests per day, which if continued throughout the year would dwarf the previous years requests total of 1,500. He did suggest he expected a decrease in interest over the coming weeks.
Ralph Pipe of the Frankfurt Police procedural office has said, “We have been beginning every day with at least 13 applications,” in comparison to last year in which there were only one or two applications per day.
German gun sales are strictly regulated. According to German law there are five criterea that must be met before a firearms ownership license can be issued. The person must be 18, trustworthy, have personal adequecy, expert knowledge and must prove a necessity. Convicted felons, people with a record of mental disorder and people deemed unreliable with drug addictions or a violent past are barred.
Unlike neighbouring Austria, self defence is not accepted as a valid reason for owning a firearm. Only competitive shooting, hunting and gun collecting are valid reasons for the license. As a result most Germans who apply for these licenses often join gun clubs.
The small fire arms permit or Kleiner Waffenschein introduced in 2002 can be obtained without the need to demonstrate expert knowledge, necessity or insurance requirements. This is the permit which has seen the greatest amount of applications this year. It allows the licensee to carry airsoft guns and flare guns. This permit is required to carry on public property but like the regular firearms permit carrying is illegal at public events.
The issue has raised discussions on social media, such as the Cologne Police Facebook page, in which concerned German citizens have made comments saying, “We are no longer safe in our own country without a weapon,” and others expressed outrage at police saying, “unbelievable, maybe you should advertise with large posters to arm concerned citizens.” The comments followed a pattern in which many were more concerned with the danger of weapons in the hands of Germans than they were concerned with any danger from migrants.
Cologne police also mentioned that pepper spray is not covered under the Arms Act and does not require a permit or license. Sales of pepper spray in Germany have likewise increased and, as Breitbart London has reported, many vendors are even sold out.