Share This Page

Germans accept their tough gun restrictions

| Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 9:24 p.m.

BERLIN — Imagine a vast registry that details every legal gun owner in the country, along with information about all of their firearms.

Now imagine the gun lobby not making a fuss about it.

That's what has happened in Germany, where a new gun database went into service at the beginning of the year.

Until recently, some records were kept on index cards across what used to be 551 separate local registries. Now law enforcement officials can sit at their computers and scroll through lists of owners and their guns in seconds.

Hunting is popular in Germany, and gun manufacturers are plentiful and powerful. But the push toward increased regulation and oversight, spurred by a string of school shootings in recent years, has come with little opposition from gun groups. Many gun advocates say that if cars can be registered and regulated, so can weapons.

Now German law enforcement agencies know that there are 5.5 million legally registered guns in their country of 80 million people.

German gun owners must be licensed and pass strict safety exams to use their weapons. Police in Germany have the power to drop by gun owners' homes to check that the firearms are locked up according to regulations. And few people are allowed to carry guns in public.

“This is something that is sort of unanimously supported when it comes to political parties,” said Jan Arend, an official in Germany's Green Party who has worked on shaping gun legislation. “I can imagine what the outrage would be in the United States.”

In 2010, the latest year for which data are available, 26.3 percent of homicides in Germany were committed with a firearm, according to United Nations statistics; in the United States, that figure was 67.5 percent.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.