Today there was a school shooting in Germany. Prime Minister Olaf Scholz said he “was shocked by the shooting.”
The reason for the prime minister’s response is the fact that Germany, unlike the United States, has very strict gun possession laws. In gun loving America obtaining a firearm is easy as going into the neighborhood grocery store and buying a candy bar.
Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 1.24.2022
One woman was killed and three people injured in a shooting at Heidelberg University on Monday.
Police said at a press conference Monday evening that a man entered a university lecture hall with a double-barreled shotgun and another firearm as a class was running and opened fire.
Four people were wounded. A 23-year-old woman died several hours later in the hospital; the other victims suffered injures in the face, back and legs, police said.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was shocked by the shooting.
“That one student has died of her injuries … It tears my heart apart to learn of such news,” Scholz said.
The shooting at Heidelberg University has reawoken some interest in German gun control, which is regulated by the 2002 Weapons Act. In 2019 Germany’s Bundestag agreed to new gun control regulations, including a controversial measure that would have everyone who owns a firearm regularly checked by the country’s domestic intelligence agency (BfV).
According to the Weapons Act, you need a weapons possession card (Waffenbesitzkarte) to own or buy a firearm and a weapons license (Waffenschein) to use or carry a loaded firearm. This means collectors, for instance, only need the first, whereas hunters must have both.
A weapons possession card allows gun owners only to “transport” a firearm, rather than carry it. That means it must be unloaded and inside a locked case when taken out in public. But for those with a gun license, German law has no provision stipulating whether a gun must be concealed or loaded in public or not.
There is also a minor firearms certificate,(Kleiner Waffenschein) which is easier to obtain, and which is needed to carry lower-powered weapons, such as air guns, starting pistols, flare guns, or anything that can only shoot blanks or irritants.
Altogether, the costs for an application, including the required insurance, can run to around €500 ($540).
What kinds of guns are legal in Germany?
German law makes a distinction between weapons and war weapons, with the latter listed in the War Weapons Control Act.
In Germany, it is illegal to possess or use any war weapons. These include all fully automatic or semi-automatic rifles, machine guns (unless antiques from World War II or earlier), or barrels or breeches for such weapons. Pump-action shotguns are also banned under the Weapons Act.
Who is allowed to own guns in Germany?
Applicants for a German gun license must
1) be at least 18 years old,
2) have the necessary “reliability” and “personal aptitude,”
3) demonstrate the necessary “specialized knowledge,”
4) demonstrate a “need,” and
5) have liability insurance for personal injury and property damage of at least €1 million ($1.1 million).