Control of gun owners: “A risk to us all”


Status: 04.10.2022 05:54

41.2 years – according to research by Report Mainz it takes arithmetically until authorities have inspected all gun owners nationwide. The balance in the individual federal states is devastating – but there are differences.

By David Meiländer and Philipp Reichert, SWR

Gun owners are hardly checked in Germany. This is from a survey of ARD– political magazine Report Mainz among all arms agencies. Since the killing spree in Winnenden in 2009, which killed 15 people, they have been supposed to unannounced to check that shooters and hunters are storing their weapons safely. Because in the Winnenden case, the perpetrator could easily get the gun out of the parents’ bedroom.

The result of the study: 41.2 years – that’s how long it would take for the authorities to control all gun owners nationwide. In some federal states it even takes hundreds of years on average. Experts talk about a security risk.

Large differences between states

Report Mainz asked 513 gun agencies how often they checked on their gun owners in 2021. More than half provided complete information. There are clear differences between the federal states. In relation to the registered gun owners, the authorities in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern carry out the most checks. There, it would take eight years to check everyone. In Baden-Württemberg it would be 19 years, in Rhineland-Palatinate 94, in Lower Saxony 131. Berlin comes out worst: there it is 360 years.

Berlin’s weapons authority shared Report Mainz with due to the corona pandemic, the control was temporarily reduced. Now there is more control. But even before Corona, on average, a gun owner would not have been checked until several decades later. This results in figures that the authority also announced. Other authorities also refer to the pandemic.

Police union: “The result is frightening”

Deputy chairman of the police union, Michael Mertens, describes the result as frightening. “The high check intervals are almost ridiculous. I can only draw the conclusion that the politicians do not want more checks.” Otherwise, according to Mertens, more money would be invested in the staff. “Fewer checks mean a security risk and therefore a risk for all of us,” says Mertens.

After research by Report Mainz However, individual districts have increased staff, such as Bodenseekreis in Baden-Württemberg. There, the weapons authorities have for several years been supported by retired police officers. With success: In 2021, the weapons authority there managed 347 checks and is one of the best in Germany: At this rate, it would take four and a half years for all gun owners to be checked.

Green politicians see the need for action

In light of the low national average inspection intervals, the Greens’ domestic politician Marcel Emmerich sees an urgent need for action and that too from his own traffic light coalition: “I think it is very important that the federal government takes responsibility and supports the states financially. and in the end end with personnel,” Emmerich said. It is the only way to ensure that the authorities carry out more frequent checks. The Federal Ministry of the Interior sees it differently. A spokeswoman shared Report Mainz where the states are responsible for gun law enforcement and storage control.

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