In Germany, it’s difficult to get a gun. Even non-functioning blank-firing replicas and starter pistols are regulated, along with pepper spray and other less-than-lethal weapons. But they are easier to get. And Germans are getting them in numbers.
Sales of blank-firing pistols and other less-than-lethal weapon sales have spiked over the past year, along with the permits to carry and use them in public. Last year only 270,000 permits had been issued. So far this year the number soared to just over 402,000 (original German article).
Proper gun ownership in Germany, like in many parts of Europe, is highly regulated. In addition to a background check, Germans have to attend safety classes, pass a mental health exam and also qualify with their firearms. The process is involved, costs thousands of euros and takes about a year to complete. Purchasing a firearm for self-defense is not permitted.
But purchasing a less-than-lethal weapon for everyday carry is pretty straightforward. The buyers only need proof that they’re of age and there is no background check.
Germans are getting these weapons for a pretty obvious reason: they want them for protection. As the best immediate option for self-defense — irritant spray and blank-firing “alarm” guns — these less-than-lethal weapons are hot sellers. Buyers are encouraged to get professional advice for safe handling of less-than-lethal weapons as they can be deadly if misused. This is especially true for blank-firing guns.
Along with a rise in sexual assaults across Germany, prominent shootings have spurred sales of less-than-lethal weapons. Many Germans believe that the migrant rape crisis is being marginalized and downplayed by government authorities and ignored by police. It stands to reason that some of these people feel like they can only trust themselves for protection.
During the recent mall shooting in Munich, one man hurled insults and bottles from his balcony at the shooter waiting for police to respond. “If I had a gun I would have shot him I’d have shot him in the head,” said Thomas “the Balcony Man” Salbey to the Daily Mail.
Naturally. the rise in less-than-lethal weapons ownership is upsetting to some. German politicians argue that people will modify blank-firing guns to shoot standard cartridges, adding to the pool of illegal guns in the country. The European Union recently passed sweeping restrictions on their already strict international gun control laws.
For many Americans, the idea of adding gun control laws to fight terrorism and sex assault is backwards. In the U.S. people are turning to concealed-carry for personal protection. At the same time, violent crime and murder rates have dropped nationwide.
According to the must-read “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2016” report, violence has dropped by 18 percent and murders by 16. Importantly, the drop in crime can be correlated with the increase in concealed-carry rates.
The report goes on to identify people with concealed-carry permits as some of the most law-abiding individuals in the country. In some parts of the country, concealed-carriers are convicted for crimes at one-sixth the rate as police officers.
It will take some time for Germany and the rest of Europe to come around to the same conclusion. An armed citizenry is not just safer from crime, it’s safer from terrorism. Former Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble shocked international leaders when he said the best way to fight terrorism is to have an armed populace.
“What I’m saying is it makes police around the world question their views on gun control,” said Noble. “It makes citizens question their views on gun control. You have to ask yourself, ‘Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?’ This is something that has to be discussed.”
The Bastille Day attack in Nice, France sadly proved that a terrorist does not need guns to commit large-scale carnage. A disarmed country is no safer and if anything, just a softer target.