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Germany

Germany Bans Carrying Copycat Weapons in Public

Realistic replicas of weapons can no longer be carried in public, the German government decided, as they can easily be mistaken for the real thing. The police union said the new law doesn't go far enough.

A pistol

Is this a toy or a deadly weapon?

For the second time since 2002, when a student in Erfurt killed sixteen people at his former high school, the German government has tightened its weapons law to align with the UN firearms protocol. The plan cleared its final legislative hurdle on Friday, March 14, when it was approved by the upper house of parliament.

Germany is imposing a ban on carrying realistic-looking imitation firearms in public, as police could mistake them for real weapons in a crisis situation. The ban mainly applies to so-called softair guns, which function with pressurized gas and are often modeled on real-life counterparts.

The head of the German Police Union (GdP) Konrad Freiberg criticized the law as insufficient. It's a scandal that the German government has excluded a nation-wide weapons registry from its reforms, he said.

Inherited guns must be disabled

Historical parade in Bavaria

Realistic weapons are allowed at historical festivals

Under the law, people can still sell, purchase and possess replica firearms, but they must be transported in a closed container. Switchblades and knives with a blade longer than 12 centimeters (4.7 inches) may also not be carried in public.

Violators face fines of up to 10,000 euros ($15,600). Exceptions, however, will be made for historical re-enactments.

Toy weapons that cannot be mistaken for real guns are not affected by the law.

Furthermore, the new weapons law places restrictions on firearms inherited as of April 1, 2008. If the heir cannot prove a personal need for the weapon -- for example, if he or she is a hunter or a member of a shooting club -- it may only be kept if it's been disabled.

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