Austria has seen huge growth in the issue of handgun permits and weapon sales in recent months, following the Paris terror attacks and ongoing European migrant crisis.
In Vienna, Austria’s largest city and national capital, the number of weapon permits issued per month used to be a relatively steady average of 100. Since September, however, the numbers have grown exponentially, reports Austrian national broadcaster ORF.
Evidencing Austrians’ growing desire for self-defence, the number of weapons permits issued in Vienna doubled in October and redoubled to 457 for the month of November 2015. Speaking to ORF, the industry spokesman for the arms trade in the Chamber of Commerce, Robert Siegert, explained:
“It’s certainly true that people’s general sense of unease has increased.”
Further backing his argument, Mr. Siegert told the broadcaster that although he did not have the exact figures larger weapon shops in urban areas have reportedly seen a sharp rise in sales of self-defence weapons such as pepper spray, blank-firing guns and tasers.
Despite the rise in reported sexual violence in Vienna in recent months, some are still dismissive of the need for handgun permits and self-defence equipment. One criminal sociologist, Reinhard Kreissl, told ORF that Vienna remains a very safe city with a generally low crime rate, so in his opinion the desire for self-defence is “relatively pointless”.
The increased demand was already in evidence before the migrant sex assaults that took place in many European cities on New Year’s Eve. ORF reports that in the Austrian region bordering Slovenia — an area which has borne the brunt of the ongoing migrant crisis — some districts have seen applications for handgun permits growing fourfold in the last year, reversing a declining trend observed in preceding years.
Since New Year’s Eve. however, interest in self-defence items in urban areas has grown apace.
Franz Dorfners owns a gun shop in Vienna. He told the Kurier newspaper his entire stock of pepper spray has sold out and he will only be able to restock with a delivery in two to four week’s time. Other shop owners have spoken of the unprecedented demand for their products. One, Reinhold Sodia, says he is seeing customers who have never been in a gun shop before.
Angelika Breser from Vienna’s Women’s Helpline has warned that self-defence products can be turned on owners by their attackers, and advocates the use of rape alarms as a safer alternative. There is no doubt, however, that the fear felt by women in Europe is tangible. Salzburg’s Women’s Helpline has changed to being a 24 hour operation in response to demand following New Year’s Eve.
Austria is not alone in considering self-defence. As Breitbart London reported, Dutch politician Geert Wilders has called for European women to protect themselves with pepper spray on the back of events in Cologne.