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2018 saw a jump in the number of Germans applying for a basic weapons license. Police say the trend comes from a growing sense of insecurity, but warn increasing numbers of armed citizens may worsen the situation.
More Germans are applying for basic weapons licenses according to the country's Interior Ministry. As of December 31, 2018, some 610,937 citizens had been issued licenses.
The jump of 53,377 gun permits over 2017 represents a 9.6 percent increase in the number of Germans now licensed to carry gas pistols, flare guns, pepper spray and other weapons not intended for deadly use.
Police representatives suggest the increase illustrates a latent sense of insecurity among citizens. However, Left Party domestic policy expert Ulla Jelpke said the increase was "a result of the panic created by law and order politicians like Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and right-wing agitators like the AfD [Alternative for Germany]."
'False sense of security'
Police Union (GdP) Chairman Oliver Malchow, warned of the effect that growing numbers of armed citizens might have in everyday life, telling the Germany daily newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung: "Such weapons give a false sense of security as well as an increased willingness for self-defense. But both those facts could lead to an escalation of the current situation, eventually turning gun owners into criminals."
Malchow added that armed citizens could actually be opening themselves to more risk, as those they might face would have no way of knowing that they were carrying non-lethal weapons.
Germany's basic weapons license requires an applicant to be of adult age as well as being personally and psychologically fit. Lethal weapons are not readily available in Germany.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Network), said that 0.9 Germans per 100,000 died of gun violence in 2016. The USA, which garners much press for its high percentage of gun deaths, registered 10.6 per 100,000 in 2016. El Salvador led the world by percentage with 39.2 per 100,000. Germany registered 820 gun deaths in 2016, as compared to 33,336 in the USA.
js/jil (AFP, dpa)