More and more German citizens are choosing to arm themselves as the number of weapons permits for firearms saw a record increase in 2017 going up nationwide by 85 per cent.
In January 2016, Germany had around 300,000 holders of “small weapons” permits that allow citizens to own various kinds of weapons such as pepper spray and pistols that fire gas pellets. By the end of 2017, that number almost doubled to 557,000, Deutsche Welle reports.
Self-defence courses are also on the rise as many martial arts gyms and others have claimed that they have seen a surge in new members in recent years.
One of the major factors for the increase in small weapons permit requests was, according to some experts, the massive wave of sex attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2015/2016.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 15, 2016
Arnold Plickert, National Chairman of the Union of Police (GdP) in the region of North Rhine-Westphalia, said that while the “hype” of the Cologne attacks has died down, the number of people seeking permits continues to grow.
Plickert said that the police see the public carrying weapons unfavourably and that many would be better to sound an alarm or ask someone else for help, instead claiming that weapons can make a situation more dangerous.
While the permits only allow the public carry of non-lethal weapons, police have raised an alarm over groups like the far-right “Reich Citizens” who have previously been found with caches of pistols and rifles.
In neighbouring France, the demand for firearms has also increased although the ability to legally obtain weapons is difficult. Despite the legal difficulty of getting a firearm, police have found often military grade firearms more and more during raids on drug traffickers.
Last year, police in Eure-et-Loir, Eure, and Yvelines found a massive cache of weapons which included two loaded and ready-to-run anti-tank M80 rocket launchers, several automatic rifles, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.