Back to topic | Arms – how armed is Germany?


Millions of privately owned weapons

Over 5.3 million firearms are stored in German private households. Whether that is a lot or a little is debatable. As well as the question of how dangerous these weapons are. To answer that, it would be helpful to know exactly what kind of weapons we are talking about and who owns them. But the state makes it almost impossible to get this information.

For comparison: To find out something about the cars registered in Germany, just a few clicks on the website of the Federal Motor Transport Authority. Tables can be downloaded that leave almost no questions unanswered: registered cars including a breakdown by convertible, four-wheel drive or displacement class. You can also find out whether the vehicles are registered with a company or a private person and what gender they are.

Scant statistics

It is very different when it comes to firearms instead of cars.  The  Federal Office of Administration has kept a national weapons register since 2013, but has not yet made the data public. ©

 The  responsible department cancels on request from announced to publish “both statistical key figures for the federal states and for the federal government” on its website for the first time in February 2021. Until then, the Federal Administration Office will refer us to the interior ministries of the federal states. ©

 The y in turn emphasize that data sovereignty lies with the weapons authorities, of which almost every major city and district has its own. ©

 The re are a total of 541 weapons authorities in Germany.


 The  story was actually planned: How many weapons are there in Germany? But then we realized that the story is different, namely how difficult it is to find data on legal firearms in Germany.

Felicitas Boeselager, state correspondent for Deutschlandradio in Bremen

Few make the effort to inquire about all weapons authorities individually. © The  time 2014 compiled where there are how many registered firearms. Felicitas Boeselager from Germany radio wanted to know more two years later. Namely, among other things, how many people own a weapon and whether they bought it for hunting, collecting or shooting from the rifle club. ©

 The  latter remained open. We too would have liked to know more than what most weapons authorities could or would give us.

Deviations in registered firearms

What we have received from all the weapons authorities is the number of reported firearms that we have entered on a map of Germany. In addition to the weapons authorities, we also asked the interior ministries of the federal states for statistics. Some of the numbers are quite different, although they come from exactly the same weapons authorities. Some deviations could be caused by different deadlines at the weapons authorities, but this does not explain differences over several thousand weapons. Official statistics on private firearm ownership are not only difficult to come by, but also unreliable.

If we had these numbers at all, then on this basis we could finally conduct a scientific investigation into where the real problems exist.

Lars Winkelsdorf, journalist and weapons expert

Lars Winkelsdorf, journalist and weapons expertPhoto: Private

Gun experts like the journalist Lars Winkelsdorf insist on reliable data – for scientific research and as a benchmark for politics. Because the German gun law is regulated again and again without it being clear what it is supposed to achieve. We also have for this first episode of our four-part series on guns with ex-cop Jürgen Röhr who was shot and seriously injured while on duty in 2003.

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topic Arms armed Germany


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