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By Claudia Bommer

The New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne and other cities and the subsequent news that Germans are arming themselves – most of them within the legal limits of German gun laws – raised a question among readers: What do German gun laws look like and how can guns be bought legally there? Since I’m a legal gun owner here in Germany owning several handguns and rifles (bolt-action as well as semi-automatic) here’s the truth about gun laws and ownership . . .

History of German Gun Laws

Even though carrying guns was sometimes restricted during German history, there was no law restricting gun ownership until 1922. The first gun laws were imposed during the Weimar Republic and the Nazis used these laws to ban people they considered enemies from owning guns. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, Germans were almost completely banned from owning guns until full sovereignty was regained in 1952 when the Reichswaffengesetz gained its validity back.

For the Federal Republic of Germany that meant guns had to be registered and you needed a license to carry (for which you needed a reason). Before the tightening of German gun laws in 1976 Germans could buy rifles through mail order catalogues without restrictions and every German federal state had its own gun laws (like the different US states, some were more restrictive, some were quite liberal).

In 1976, though, in the wake of Red Army Faction terrorism, German gun laws were federalized and more restrictions were put on German gun owners. Even though the guns of sports shooters and hunters had nothing to do with the RAF attacks (they used fully-automatic machine guns and other weapons of war that were off-limits to all Germans), the new gun laws required firearm registration, acquisition certificates, and quotas, limiting the number of certain guns.

In 2002, after the Erfurt school shooting, gun laws were tightened again.

How to Obtain Guns

Even after all the added regulation, individual gun ownership is still possible here in Germany…thought it isn’t easy. As a non-government civilian (and non-professional in gun-related jobs) you can

  • Get a CCW (nowadays nearly impossible)
  • A collectors card (not easy)
  • Become a hunter (time and money intense)
  • Become a sports shooter (the easiest way)

To become a hunter you need to get a hunting license that requires 120 hours of training and costs a few thousand dollars. It’s quite difficult to acquire a hunting license, that’s why it is called the “green college degree” in Germany.

Becoming a sports shooter is the easiest and cheapest path to gun ownership. No matter what you want to shoot – air rifle/pistol above 7.5 Joule, .22 calibre guns or guns with higher calibres – you need to join a gun club first. There they teach you gun safety and how to shoot. You also need to take a course called Waffensachkunde, where the future gun owner learns (again) about gun safety, gun laws, ownership permits, legal requirements for guns storage, technical aspects of guns and ammunition, different types of guns, and German self-defense laws. This course takes 16 hours and you have to pass three tests, written (90% score required to pass), oral and practical.

During your first year in a shooting club you need to go shooting 12 times on a regular base or 18 times, if you training is irregular.

If you pass your Waffensachkunde test, you have to shoot least 12-18 a year at your club. You’re then ready to apply for the Waffenbesitzkarte (gun ownership permit). That requires an application from the shooting association your club is attached to indicating that they approve your need of the certain guns you applied for.

You can’t apply for or buy more than two guns in six month (the 2/6 rule). This rule is valid for guns that need to be registered on the yellow gun ownership permit (sport shooter card) as well as on the green one (firearms owner card). The yellow permit allows the holder to more freely acquire guns like bolt-action rifles — no matter the calibre — and shotguns. The green permit is for handguns, semi-automatic rifles and pump guns.

For guns having to be registered on the yellow permit only the 2/6 rule applies. For guns having to be registered on green permit, the shooting association needs to state a “sporting purposes need” for the gun in addition to the 2/6 rule. But even with this “need” the available number of handguns, semi-automatic rifles and pump guns is limited. The “basic need” is two handguns and three semi-automatic rifles in total. For more, you need to prove to your shooting association that you take part in shooting competitions. If you participate in a lot of competitions you might get up to six or seven handguns.

One more requirement: if you are between 18 and 25 you need a mental exam to get a gun with a bigger calibre than .22 and a Führungszeugnis (clearance certificate).

So if you have jumped though all those hoops and taken all the correct paperwork to your local Waffenbehörde (German weapon offices) and paid the fees (about 100 €), in about 2-4 weeks you’ll find your Waffenbesitzkarten in your mail box. That’s when you can go to a gun shop to buy your guns or order them from a online shop.

Of course, now you’ll then need to go back to the Waffenbehörde (weapon office) again and pay to register your newly acquired gun(s). You might understand now why German gun owners can only chuckle about the hassle Emily Miller described in “Emily gets her gun”.

What kind of guns can Germans buy and what can they do with them?

Besides the fact that some guns are restricted in number, you can accumulate quite a collection over time if you use the 2/6 rule to full capacity, although most of your guns will be shotguns or bolt-action rifles. Even though some calibres aren’t permitted for sports shooters (5.7x28mm, 6.4x30mm for example) you can shoot all common calibres in Germany: .22 LR, .45 Auto, .44 Magnum, .223 Rem, .308 Win, .338 LM and even .50 BMG. Full-auto is prohibited in all cases.

You can shoot your guns only at an approved and licensed shooting range. What you can or cannot do there is restricted by law: no combat shooting for civilians, no firing during movement, no shooting from the hip. In Germany, civilians aren’t allowed to shoot at any target that resembles a human shape (geometrical shapes like CSAT targets are excluded). No zombie targets (2D and 3D) or comic figures. So for any kind of higher tactical training, teachers and participants go to Austria, Poland or the Czech Republic where they don’t have these strict regulations.

There is IPSC-shooting, although with some changes and omissions to suit German shooting regulations. Besides that, you can shoot in most of the same competitions you can shoot in the US.

If you want to keep your guns you need to stay in a gun club, because as soon as you leave, your “need” expires and you have to either sell them or turn them in.

I’ve been a runner for almost 20 years now and sometimes take part in cross-country or medium-distance runs, but I never felt the need to join a club in order to perform my sport. The same should be true for shooting. But club membership is one of many obstacles thrown up to keep Germans from possessing guns. And that’s the goal: to keep the number of gun owners as low as possible without downright prohibiting the possession of firearms.

Despite all those obstacles, there are an estimated two million sports shooters in Germany (not including all the collectors, hunters etc., many of whom belong to more than one group) and approximately six million legal guns.

There are some positive aspects of all of this. First, if you meet someone who is a legal gun owner in Germany you can be pretty sure he or she knows what they are doing. And that’s important when it comes to gun safety. Second, from what I’ve read about the US, female gun owners in Germany seem generally to be treated with more respect than women with guns in the America. We have to prove again and again that they are capable of handling a gun. We have to pass the same tests as men, so there is no justification to look down on us as inferior.

Self-defense with guns?

That’s a touchy subject. If you have to defend your life or yourself against harm, you are allowed to use any object. But the reality is if you shoot an intruder in your home, chances are high that you’ll end up in jail. But that’s a larger subject for another day.


Claudia Bommer is the publisher and author of the Blog Die Waffen der Frau (weapons of a woman) and a proud member of the German Rifle Association. This post reprinted with permission.


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  1. “Second, from what I’ve read about the US, female gun owners in Germany seem generally to be treated with more respect than women with guns in the America.”

    The only people who disrespect women with guns in America are alpha male tools and extreme anti gun pseudo feminists. Neither one is widely represented in our firearms culture. I’ve actually met a few liberals who were more tolerant of females packing than males.

    • Shortage of Alpha males (rise of the feminist and marxist demtards) put our nation in the hole we are now in. Get a pair.

      And in ALL of eurp.

      • By “alpha male tools” I think hes refering to deutchbag psudo alpha males who subsitute attitude and image for real confidence, pride, and aithority (as in knowledge and respect, NOT as in police or government authority)…. I dont want to put words in the poster’s mouth so maybe he (or she?) can clarify……

        • Basically, yes. The ‘tool’ adjective was meant to modify the ‘Alpha Male’ subject to distinguish it from a standard alpha male role model/leader type, instead referring to the ‘Frat boy narcissistic jock popped collar douchebag’ alpha male archetype commonly found today. Cross reference with ‘mansplainer’.

          Can you tell I was bullied in high school?

      • Pretty sure the kind of “alpha” he’s talking about are the jackwits who wear their caps backwards, walk around in Tapout gear (and either don’t work out at all, or spend every spare minute in the gym–there is no in-between), drive huge lifted pickups (that they never dare take off-road, for fear of scratching the paint) with exhaust stacks in the bed, tribal decals, massive chrome wheels and megawatt stereos (that only play Nickelback and Wiz Kalifa), whose every other word is either “Dude”, “Bro”, or “F***”.

        • Wow. You just insulted the hell out of a lot of people.

          I’m glad that they’re the same people I usually insult the hell out of.

    • I’m willing to bet that women with guns in America are treated with more respect than women *without* guns in America. We males are not often THAT stupid.

  2. How much does a club membership cost?

    2 handguns and 3 modern rifles plus a bunch of pump shotguns per person sounds like fairly functional collection. I could get by with that if I had to.

    • sadly (weirdly) pump action shotguns are on the same restricted level as a semi-automatic gun (be it a .22, a semi-auto shotgun or a .50 BMG semi-auto), so you could only create a collection of over-under, bolt-action or lever-action shotguns if you want more than one shot.

      Oh yeah, bullpups, 7.62×39 (in most cases) and fancy stuff like a SCAR (any “military purpose rifle without a dedicated model for sporting”) are illegal, too, we can have civilian AR-15s and AKs in .223, though… Sport shooters must have a barrel length of at least 16.75″ on rifles and are limited to 10 round mags (does not apply for pistols), hunters can get a SBR no problem but are limited to a 2 round mag.

      The Waffengesetz (gun laws) in Germany is the second most complex law in Germany right after tax laws.

      Membership depends on the club but it starts at something about 60-70$/year, so it’s affordable.

  3. As for self-defense with guns, in America we say it is better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6. Better in a jail cell than six feet under.

    • In Canada, if you can use a gun to defend your home, you were almost certainly breaking the “safe storage” laws. That said, the cops in more rural areas tend to be more related about those laws because of the need to defend against Yogi.

      • Maybe… But unless they can prove you WEREN’T cleaning/inspecting for rust your Glock at 3 AM when you heard a bump in the night you should be okay. Just make sure you do your shooting IN/FROM the house or you may be in violation of transport laws (assuming your using a handgun/AR15)

  4. This sounds horrible.
    Perhaps the answer would be to allow much more immigration into Germany…or maybe not.

  5. Why the prohibition on higher-level training? If the German shooting culture is all about safety, wouldn’t it stand to reason they’d want people to know how to shoot safely in all manner of situations?

    • Safely or not, they don’t want citizens shooting guns in some of those situations. That’s why the bit about “if you shoot someone in self-defense, you might still end up in jail”. They don’t want people to see examples of firearms being used to defend life, so they can maintain the fiction that guns in the hands of the unwashed masses are only useful for “sporting purposes”. The problem that’s developing (for the statists) is that people see these gangs assaulting women and are starting to piece together in their minds another, “non-sporting” purpose that guns could be put to.

      • I find rapist hunting to be a rather relaxing sport. They’ve also made several successful movie franchises based upon it.

      • There’s plenty of shooting sports where shooting on the move is the norm. But I guess they don’t want people to know that.

      • That way when the next mass shooting happens (and it’s a when, not an if) they can ratchet things down even tighter without any argument from their subjects.

      • There are NO gun laws any where in the world that are about “gun safety,public safety,or any other kind of safety”.It is all about the safety of the government and the politicos. This is why there are no governments located any where on the face of the earth that I trust.
        If we had this kind of crap in Texas I would have to start popping the politicos until I ran out of ammo or swat got there.

  6. Thanks for this, Claudia. Your comments underscore the natural tendency of all bureaucracies, regardless of location or political alignment, to expand control over anything they supervise.

  7. I have a german weihrauch hw35 air rifle that my grandfather bought in Germany. It has an F engraved on it, surrounded by a pentagon, indicating muzzle energy less than 7.5J.

    It still works well for starlings and for dispatching trapped groundhogs though.

  8. Claudia –

    Growing up in the 1970’s, there were mass protests in Germany (and other European countries) by the ‘Green Party’ and allied political parties demanding no nuclear powerplants or nuclear weapons.

    *Huge* protests, tens, if not tens of thousands of protesters making those demands.

    The sexual assaults on women in Cologne and other cities by these ‘migrants’ is nothing short of an outrage.

    Why are these women, and other citizens, not organizing mass protests in the hundreds of thousands for the right to defend themselves from these attacks?

    If citizen concealed carry of pistols is currently politically unobtainable, why not, at the very least, are they not demanding the right to lawfully carry pepper spray (and or a stout knife)?

    • It’s the “state will take care of me” mentality. Many Europeans love government – the bigger the better.

      That mindset is spreading here in the US as well. That troubles me.

    • One of the most frequently voiced concerns in the current migration chaos here in Germany is that there will be less tax money available for the home-bred populace. So most Germans are actually afraid of the state receding – handouts, gun prohibition, you name it. The overwhelming majority of voters over here want the status quo precisely as it is and – if possible – even more of it. Sicherheit über alles!

    • You can legally carry pepper spray (if it’s marked as “animal repellent” – don’t ask) or mace, just not in public gatherings. You can use it if it’s in self defense (otherwise it would be assault, same as in the US). You can only carry small non-locking, non single hand folder knives or fixed blades up to ~4.5″ in length. No karambits or something like Spyderco civilian as it is clearly not a utility knife. Forget about carrying a baton, that’s an offense.

      So basically you’re doing something illegal as soon as you take measures to protect yourself against another human being. The European way for it is to call the police and have them mark the chalk outlines. See Charlie Hebdo, see Bataclan in France.

      Most of the population is even so mind-controlled that they’re strictly pacifist and anti-gun, even anti self-defense. They’ve been trained well by the government to always remember that any hint of violence from a German leads to another world war so we let our women get raped and our homes get robbed. Entirely without incident.

  9. Many European countries tightened there gun laws in the 1970s in response to Soviet sponsored terrorism. The IRA, Red Army Faction and Red Brigades all received logistical support, training and hardware from the Soviet Union primarily through East Germany. The Soviets saw these terrorist groups as a means to destablize and weaken NATO. Everybody needs to understand why these laws got on the books so we don’t get caught in the same trap.

    • So Europe thought the best way to fight a state-sponsored, organized terror group was to disarm its citizens?

      Fools – all of them.

      • Ask your average American Liberal, and they will spout the same garbage. This is one of the downsides of how we’ve allowed leftists to take over our schools. Revisionist history ignores all the negative consequences of these stupid statist policies.

        • I think all this over abundance of liberals began in the 1820’s or so(not sure about the date) when the US passed laws against Dualing. Back before then stupid people didnt really live all that long,now the bastards breed like rabbits

    • In all fairness, I did not hear anything about magazine capacity restrictions, which is a pretty big deal in the grand scheme of things.

      • That stupid 5 round capacity limit in Canada is pretty bad.

        I wouldn’t mind defending my homestead with a stock 10 round SKS, or Saiga too much, but 5 rounds just doesn’t cut it (and I’ll keep my 30 round AK mags. anyway).

      • hunters are allowed to have magazines with a capacity of 2 rounds, whereas sports shooters can have a magazine with 10 rounds. In fact you can have magazines with a capacity up to 20 rounds, but they have to be blocked so only the allowed number of rounds fit in…

        • That is only half-true. German hunters cannot have a mag capable of holding more than two rounds in a semi-auto rifle WHILE SHOOTING AT GAME (this is the precise wording of our federal hunting law). At the range or when zeroing their rifle while on their hunting ground, they could use a 150-round Beta C-Mag if they wanted to (albeit there exist state attorneys and the odd lowly clerk at the local firearms authority that may have a different view on this).

          German sports shooters may in general not use magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds in their semi-automatic rifles, though. Note that mere acquisition and possession of standard capacity mags (20, 30 or more rounds) are perfectly legal for both hunters and sports shooters.

  10. “…But the reality is if you shoot an intruder in your home, chances are high that you’ll end up in jail. But that’s a larger subject for another day….”

    But all in all a VERY important subject.

    So if some bad guy breaks into your home with a gun (even though said gun was likely obtained illegally) you cannot use your own firearm to defend yourself? Wow…….

    • The twist is that you can use it – in principle. In reality, we are burdened with what are probably the most onerous “safe storage” rules in existence anywhere. Lawmakers in Germany voted into existence a truly bizarre micro-science on who can store how many guns and what kinds of guns in precisely what kind of gun safe (they have to be certified according to different norms depending on the kind and number of guns you plan to store there). There are also regulations on whether you can store ammo inside your safe or not, and if so, whether that ammo may belong to the guns stored next to it or not…

      Local firearms authorities are allowed to appear at your doorstep unannounced in order to determine whether you are in compliance with said safe storage regulations or not (and will do so). The rule is: All weapons have to be (completely) unloaded and locked away if you’re not using them at the range or on your hunting grounds. So the option of getting to your gun quickly and defending yourself with it against an armed intruder in the middle of the night is – in the overwhelming majority of cases – a highly theoretical one.

  11. I always get a good laugh when one of my more “enlightened” friends claims the United States needs to be more like Europe.

    I have family in Greece and know first hand that Europe isn’t the panacea US liberals claim it to be.

    I simply respond – “if you like Europe so much why don’t you move there?”

    Articles like this make me realize how incredibly privileged we are to live in the US.

    • YES

      If the US is so damn horriblem move your whiny butt back to Mexico, Cuba, Liberia, ________. Take your US endowed skills and knowledge, and fix your ancestral/new home. Leave our Constitution here (let us know how things work out).

      • Here’s a hint; you’ll do a lot better if you take a copy of the Constitution with you, in the language of the country you intend to fix.

  12. i love how she painted the picture as clear as possible as to what our anti-gunners want to do, with this statement, “And that’s the goal: to keep the number of gun owners as low as possible without downright prohibiting the possession of firearms.”

  13. Pretty bad. I live in France – having left the real gun hating UK. Here I thought things were hard enough but I can see Germany has a worst deal. With all the rules and costs what they are saying to you is ‘we don’t want you to have a gun’.

    America don’t give an inch on new gun rules. Fight hard and fight everything. Once these rules creep in the rot starts.

    • So is it easier to get a gun in France than Germany? From my understanding semi autos and handguns are banned outright in France and pump shotguns take a small miracle to obtain.

      • Hi there,

        No handguns be it semi-auto or revolvers are not banned (yet). You need extra work to get them and they can only be (legally) shot at a registered shooting range. Semi auto rifles with a limited magazine capacity and not in certain calibres (223 rem for example) are allowed for hunting/ranges. Semi auto rifles of an increased magazine capacity are treated the same way as the handguns. You can have up to 12 rifles/hanguns in these categories. Hunting/target range capacity are in a different category and you are not limited in the quantity.

        The whole thing is of course a pain in the *** and totally unnecessary based on useless ideas by politicians.

        As always the criminals and terrorists don’t follow the rules….

    • Can you make your way to the Czech Republic (or Poland, or Croatia)? I hear that their guns laws are pretty decent.

      • What I’ve heard is that Czech gun laws aren’t bad by European standards, but they only apply to Czech citizens, and the Czech language is a cast-iron b*tch to learn.

        • Czech gun laws apply the same to any European union citizen or NATO country citizens. I.e. you as an American can also apply for CC license in the Czech Republic. There is not a small number of former UK’s high ranking military officials who actually moved with their families to the Czech Republic for personal safety reasons – and CCing was important part of their decision making process.

          For non-NATO/non-EU foreigners, licenses are may issue, typically if the foreigner has no ties (however loose) to organized crime and pays taxes, he will be able to get a CC license. (Being Russian or Ukrainian generally lowers the chances.)

          That being said, it was possible to pass the CC license exam with sworn translator only until 2011.

          That possibility doesn’t exist any more, so yes, you would need to learn Czech first in order to get your hands on guns legally in the country. Illegal gun possession would lead to quite fast deportation – which is why foreign gangsters don’t carry firearms on a normal day out. (Basically all illegal drug trade in the country is run by foreigners.)

        • As long as the test is written and I don’t have to write out answers longer than a number, I maybe could do that…after years of study. (I do have some knowledge of a different Slavic language, and I can spot cognates, sometimes.) But if I have to be able to pronounce R with a hacek over it… I’d be screwed.

        • Steve, the “R with hacek” is not such a big problem. Speech impediment where even born Czechs can’t pronounce it is quite common. Some can’t even pronounce regular hard “r” correctly and people don’t laugh at them after kindergarten. 🙂
          But Czech grammar is a bitch.

        • > As long as the test is written and I don’t have to write out answers longer than a number, I maybe could do that…after years of study. (I do have some knowledge of a different Slavic language, and I can spot cognates, sometimes.) But if I have to be able to pronounce R with a hacek over it… I’d be screwed.

          Steve, the written part is A-B-C single choice question, you just need to mark the right one. The problem is that sometimes there are two very similar answers so you need at least medium level of understanding to be sure which to pick. On the other hand you have 27 out of about 500 on the test, so it is not impossible to learn verbatim all 500, if someone really wants to CC a lot.

          Then there is a practical part, where you should be fine to pass as long as you can reasonably understand examiner’s instructions and hold a small talk in broken Czech.

          I think that we can both agree that in most situations inability to speak the language makes correct threat assessment/de-escalation pretty tricky, so I don’t think that the requirement to pass the exam in Czech is disproportionate.

      • Any and all European union citizens have the right to move to any other European union country. The local laws will treat them as locals, not as foreigners.

  14. Had some Germans come out to my place to shoot. Guys were blown away at ammo being for sale at walmart. They lost their mind at academy.

    They said the same thing. If you spend lots of money and waste too much time taking classes, you can go to a range and shoot a pellet gun. Its not even fun and not worth the effort.

    I then handed him and hk91 and he had no clue what it was.

    The goal of the liberals is too make it so difficult to shoot that you don’t enjoy it. If its not fun, nobody will care that its not a right.

    • Somewhat off topic, but I will never forget the time I invited some British lads on holiday over to my flat for a pint, and laughed hysterically as the first one jumped into the other one’s lap scooby doo style when I casually pointed out that he had been sitting literally right next to an SKS for an hour. Good times.

    • I have friends from the coasts soil their britches over academy. I can’t imagine what foreigners think when they see all manner of people peacefully browsing the gun and the hunting sections of academy, bass pro, and the like.

    • Apparently Freedom really does shine out from America’s (USA’s, that is) behind; it’s radiance is much brighter in Canada than clear across the “pond” in the EU. 😉

      • A reason why many gun owners in Germany are following gun rights proceedings in the U.S. so closely is because you are literally the last outpost of liberty in this regard (before 1919, there were virtually no restrictions on private firearm ownership whatsoever in the Reich).

        If the U.S. fell into lockstep with European legislators in this area (e.g. because SCOTUS in its new composition together with an anti-gun lunatic of POTUS overturned Heller and McDonald), what little remnants of firearms rights we may enjoy on our side of the big pond would vanish virtually overnight – “If even the Americans can come to their senses…”

  15. Good god. My fellow Americans, don’t let this happen to us. Keep fighting. The fight is eternal. Just like cancer, liberalism never goes away.

  16. “no combat shooting for civilians, no firing during movement, no shooting from the hip. In Germany, civilians aren’t allowed to shoot at any target that resembles a human shape (geometrical shapes like CSAT targets are excluded).”

    Claudia, do I understand correctly that if a German gun owner drives over the border to the Czech Republic and undergoes Defensive Gun Use classes, (s)he will be still punished under German law? What would that lead to? Losing gun license? Fine? Jail time?

    • How the hell would they even find out? That’s a truly frightening concept. That’s the equivalent of going to jail after doing pot in Amsterdam.

    • No, you will not be punished if you do combat training outside of Germany. Of course not. Because you do nothing unlawful in the country you are at that moment. So, American teens can drink beer here in Germany at the age of 16, but they will not be punished for that in the States, right…? 🙂

      • Well my German friend refused invitation to a DGU shooting class in the Czech Republic because he was afraid it would lead to trouble back home if anybody would find out.

        After all, gun purchase permits in Germany are all may issue – right? So it is easy to imagine after effects in this regards at the very least.

    • You won’t get punished BUT you should better rent a gun in Czech than using your own.

      As you only get the permit for your own gun according to the German rules (no combat shooting) your permit could be cancelled as you used it for DGU training. In the next step they suspect you as unreliable, not turstworthy anymore, and then you will loose all gun permits, too. This means you are banned at least for 5 years from gun ownership.

      So all in all: our government wants as few guns as possible in private hands. “Bureaucrazy”, judges and bad neighbours do their very best to fullfill this goal. And at the moment EU looks for the same. In November EU published an amendment to confiscate and destroy hundred thousands of private guns as they “look dangerous”: AR15 and similiar.

  17. … in about 2-4 weeks you’ll find your Waffenbesitzkarten in your mail box. That’s when you can go to a gun shop to buy your guns or order them from a online shop.

    Has anyone told the German government that criminals don’t have to wait 2-4 weeks for a card to purchase a firearm? Criminals purchase a firearm whenever they want through criminal channels … like everything else criminals do.

    And neither the caliber restrictions nor semi-annual purchase limits hinder criminals either.

    By the way excellent article Claudia and thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

  18. Why did you write that the sporting gun licenses was the easiest to get? I know a lot of people who just want to shoot and they got a hunting license. That was easier then to 1) find a Schützenverein (gun club) 2) to get a membership in on and 3) actual getting the license. in my federal state and a lot my friends life in, it is very hard to find a gun club who wants to accept members or to find a gun club at all. In other states, where you have many Brauchtumsschützen (no idea how to call that in English and Google leaves me in the lurch), it is much easier to find them and to get into them.
    So the difficulty of obtaining the license depends deeply on where in Germany you life.

    • From what I understand, they’re sort of historical shooting enthusiasts? Like with costumes and everything, something like our civil war re-enactors.

      • Germans running around in Civil War uniforms may not be as ridiculous as one would think. I had a few German ancestors who have been there and done that.

    • It really seems to me that only regular shooters and gun owners could ever hope to be qualified to decide what restrictions on firearms could be called “common sense”. What we get instead is, the term is only used by people without a clue what they are talking about.

  19. And even with all these arbitrary rules and restrictions, Germany is a solid 15th in gun ownership at 30.3 guns per resident, just behind Austria and France.

  20. Anyone else catch the reference to 6.4x30mm caliber? I’m not familiar with this particular round. Is this a typo, or some obscure (in America) euro-round? Or maybe the metric designation for a common round? (I can’t come up with a cartridge that shoots .25 caliber bullets from a 1.2″ long case off the top of my head). Anyone got any ideas? Or am I braindead and missing something obvious?

    • I notice she didn’t mention (as one of the common rounds) the good ol’ 9×19 Luger. Is Germany one of those countries that forbids “military” calibers to its civilians?

      • Germany is all about the 9×19,(France and Spain ban “military”calibers) I own a .40 Cal Springfield and Germans think I am nuts for shooting .40 S&W 9M is by far the most popular handgun caliber. They also ask “why don’t you shoot 9MM” like I am doing something wrong…..

        The only restriction I know of is .50A guy I hunted with a few years ago had a .50 BMG but mentioned they had made it more difficult to obtain one but I didn’t get into the specifics.

        • You can have ‘military’ calibres in France with the proper autorisation paperwork – just not for hunting.

          So 9mm, 223, 50 cal etc are allowed. I live in France and have the 9mm and 223 amongst my collection.

        • Now that does make sense, 9 x 19 being a German invention. (I’m not a gun nationalist; I shoot a German caliber out of a Czech pistol, more often than not.)

  21. I’ve heard that Germany also bans green furniture on civilian guns for looking too military. Is this true?

    • No. They don’t have restrictions involving that. Also, no magazine size limits though if hunting with a semi-auto you can only have a 2 round magazine in the weapon

  22. I am an American living in Germany. I have hunted here for 4 years. Some of what is written in this article is incorrect. First off the hunting course is not that difficult. I kept hearing that when I got here but we (Americans working for the DOD) take the exact same class and exams (written, oral, safety, 100M shooting, 50M Running Boar, 25M Running rabbit) but in English. It is around $220 USD for us, around 1500 Euro for the German class.

    Also, you do not your WBK (weapons card) to buy a rifle. Once you purchase a rifle it then must be registered and entered onto your weapons card but you can buy a rifle the day you get your Jagdschein (hunting license) Hunters can own two handguns, any caliber, getting those involves an extra step, they must be entered on your card before you can pick them up. You must also have a separate entry for the handgun ammo to be allowed to purchase (handgun ammo) Yes, it is possible to have a legal handgun but not legally be allowed to buy ammo for it. hare specific rules for gun and ammo storage as well.

    Hunters can own unlimited rifles/shotguns (including semi-auto) Movement in the EU is pretty easy one you get a European Weapons Pass (though most countries will not allow you take a handgun over the boarder)

    I think I need to do a piece about guns laws and hunting in Germany. Maybe a few reviews of some of the Heym rifles I have purchased here as well.

    As onerous as some of the regulations are it is easier to get a handgun here then where I grew up in NY(Long Island)

    • I have to agree with you. A hunting license isn’t as hard to get as these article implies. The hardest part (at least for me) is to have enough money to make it. My experiences and these of friends in different parts of Germany collaborate that. Hunting is the easiest way to get to shooting here, or at least in the parts of Germany where Schützenvereine aren’t as common.
      My limited experience with Schützenvereinen so far is also more bad then good. Most of them just seem to not want new members or they want to shove their political views down you’re throat and that is a thing I don’t want to be a part of my potential hobby.

      • My experience exactly. My Schützenverein’s management has enacted new rules according to which interested new members can no longer shoot live ammo (!) unless they “regularly” attain some (pretty high) minimum score with an air rifle. All these rules have explicitly been designed in such a way as to discourage the greatest possible number of new applicants. Original quote from the club president: “We actually don’t need new members – we don’t know who they are anyway. And we’d have to show them how to handle the guns when they want to shoot. Who has the time for that?”

    • Why is it only $220 for an American.. but $1500 (conversion aside; EUD and USD are close enough right now) for a native? WTF is that about?

      • I would guess that it has something to do with his work for you’re DOD. There were or are some special rules for Americans deployed to Germany regarding hunting licenses and I belief other stuff.

      • Because the SOFA Status of Forces Agreement) between the US and Germany specifically includes a clause about hunting and allowing American service members to attain a German Jagdschein. That classes are taught through Army MWR by certified (by German hunting authorities) American instructors. I believe the cost covers the training CD and instructors time (we also have to buy ammo and pay for range time)

        It is expensive for Germans because well everything is Germany is expensive……

  23. I noticed on an image on the linked-to blog that the German Rifle Association’s logo is extremely similar to the NRA logo. Are they affiliated at all, or is the GRA just modeled after the NRA?

    • Semi-auto shotguns are legal to possess for German gun owners (sports shooters need to acquire them via WBK green). Note that if your shotgun has a pistol grip, by law it also must have a buttstock (can be fixed, foldable or collapsible). Because our wise Führers once watched one too many Hollywood movies and determined that buttstockless shotguns look pretty darn evil, I presume. Go figure.

      • Thats not true. This rule for pistol grips went into effect after one of the school shootings. Right now I’m not quite sure if it was after Erfurt or Winnenden.

    • It is fun to kick the Germans over WWII, but I really kick them on the way they have voted and put in politicians and policies since WWII and the fall of the wall. Germany really is a statist place and I really do believe most of the Germans interested in personal liberties have been leaving for the USA for quite some time.

  24. Ms. Bommer mentioned Austria and yes, compared to german regulations regarding firearm possession the Austrian ones are better.

    Like most EU countries we have 4 categories (simplyfied): A through D, with A being the generally prohibiteded war weapons, B being handguns and semiautomatic rifles or shotguns, C being rifles or long guns with a rifled barrel and D shotguns or guns with a blank barrel.

    Simplified C and D can be bought and owned by anyone, if they are at least 18 years old and have no pending weapon-prohibit. You go to a gun dealer, buy one, the dealer checks with authoraties, and after 3 days and a positive result you can pick up the long gun. If you are in possession of a WBK or WP or hunting permit there is no waiting period, just cash&carry.

    For category B (handguns and semiautomatic rifles) you need a “weapons possession card”, aka WBK, or a “weapons pass” (WP) and be of 21 years or older.

    The “loops and hinges” to go through to obtain the WBK are easier here, than in germany. You dont need to enter a shooting club and fire rounds after rounds for a year to even apply. What you need to do is to pass an exam at a dealer or firearms instructur or sport shooting club, that you learned how to handle a gun. So, after some time of theory, a couple of practical shots, and some EURs less (around 50), you do get a paper called “weapons drivers license” or Waffenführerschein. That is the easy and cheap part, and usually takes you 2 hours, maybe 3 at most.

    Second you need a psychological exam, aka the Psycho Test (some 250 EUR), or a hunting permit.

    Like Ms. Bommer wrote to achieve the hunting permit (Jagdkarte) is nothing easy, yet it is doable – I did. It boiled down to taking a class, learn a 6oo+ pages book about wild life, nature, plants, forests, weapons, and study the laws, I also needed to take rifle and shotgun classes, fire rounds, and hit targets with a score. It is quite a feat, and exam, and it generally costs more than the Psycho Test. Yet, if you grow/grew up in a rural area, especially on a farm, and have a hunting parent, and dont turn a blind eye on nature, some part of the studies of the book (plants, animals, wild life etc) you will already know.

    With the Waffenführerschein and the exam or hunting permit you can then apply for the WBK, which will initially allow you to obtain and own up to two Cat. B weapons. So, two it is at first. The WBK costs are some 120 EURs or so and needs a photo. When you apply you need to give reasons why you want to get a WBK. Sport shooting and Self Defense are legal reasons, and it is better to choose Self Defense.

    This is different from Germany and several other EU countries, where Self Defense is not a legal just cause to obtain a firearm. While the state has the monopoly of force it isnt there in the situation when you are being unlawfully attacked and threatened to be hurt or killed (or your next of kin), so there the law of Self Defense applies. This is just between you and the attacker. Also material goods and property is worth defending, but withhin limits. Again, upon unlawful attack, you are on Self Defense grounds, it is a small area, but it allows up to armed self defense.

    So, to get a gun legally in Austria is easier, than in most parts of Europe.

    However, not all is shiny and good here. A carry permit, or Waffenpass, is near impossible to obtain meanwhile. The WBK allows you, given some security laws and obligations, to carry your handgun at home, on your fenced property, or in your owned shop for example. But it does not allow you to carry (concealed or open) the weapon in public space. The WBK only allows you to transport the gun unloaded in a closed box, for the reason of transportation. Everything else outside in public space is more or less considered carrying. And to do so you need a weapons pass or Waffenpass.

    As a private person this is near impossible to get, unless you maybe have some friends, sister, brother or bribed person sitting at the right authoratives desks and issue you one. If you get a job for a security company and you employer needs you armed then you can get a WP. If you loose or quite the job you loose the WP and it turns into a WBK.

    Up and until a few years ago also hunters with a valid hunting permit got it, and usually also police officers and other law-enforcement people got it. Also attorneys got the WP, or state attorneys. taxi drivers, jewelery dealers, newspaper or tabac store owners, and some other jobs, had a chance to get a WP.

    Now authoratives dont issue the WP anymore. It is considered dead law, because the letter of the law to obtain a WP hasn’t changed since 1996! The letter of the law says you may get a Waffenpass upon the goodwill if you can show that you are exposed to dangers that are best countered with weapons force. Period. Just that. Is is withhin the goodwill of the authoratives to believe you. I think in the US this compares to the “May Issue”-states that you have. The WBK is the “Shall Issue”-version of it, and the WP is the “may issue and we dont do it” version.

    Why is this so? There is no public statement, or written prove, many of us in the gun community think that because of leftish and green and EU political movements the top layers of police and jurisdiction and politics issue verbal orders down the the chain of authoratives to use the goodwill-part of the law to deny everything to anyone and as much as possible.

    If you get a negative reply upon your WP application, then you may go to court. And there the court decides against your request. If they are in a good mood they just invent reasons after reasons why you must not get a weapons pass. If they are in a hurry they just deny it with the higher interest of public security and the monopoly of force versus individual security and off you go. Carry permit denied. Next case please.

    For example extension of the WBK, up from 2 Cat.B. weapons to more, are now harder to get, and in some communities even next-to-impossible. You need to relocate your residency to another state, or district, to get to a more “user friendly” magistrate, that will consider your extension of the WBK mercifully! This development kills sport shooting, because what you are going to to with just 2 handguns? You cant even run 3 gun matches, because you need a handgun, a semiautomatic rifle, and a semiautomatic shotgun – 3 cat.B weapons. If you want to participate in 4 classes, like target shooting revolver, small/large caliber, and pistol small/large caliber, you need more guns. And so forth. You can be lucky with you magistrate, and showing result lists and competition participation, will yield you +2, +3, +5 Cat.B slots and you can be unlucky and they deny your request, or just give you +2. And then you have to wait some years before you have a chance of successfull applying another time.

    So, the law isnt so bad here after all, but the carrying-out-of-the-law is getting worse. Actually, this pattern in general is spreading as a whole in Austria, as you can see in the news.

    So the intentions of the gun activists in Austria in regards to gun laws are to remove the “good will” wording in these laws, to remove the limitations on numbers, and to reestablish the issuing of the carry permit to people with hunting permits, in dangerous jobs, to law enforcement, or people who undergo training and exams.

    • “Second you need a psychological exam, aka the Psycho Test (some 250 EUR), or a hunting permit.”

      So, it’s OK to be a psycho, as long as you also hunt?

      • Well, yes. Hehe.

        Actually a psychological exam wasnt neccessary before, I got my WBK back in 1994, before Austria joined the EU, just by asking, and without a Waffenführerschein.

        The concession for the hunters to avoid the exam was due to the fact that you need to take the class and pass the exam, which is a lengthy process. ‘Psychos’ with Rambo-attidudes wont wait so long to go haywire, and if a shooting instructor noticeses something or you behave out of line during the practice, they could stop you from participating further and expell you from the class. And if you do something really stupid they could even call the police and you might end up witn an explicit weapons-ban on yourself.

        When I took my exam one person actually failed the rifle safe handling exam, it made click! In this case the person had to repeat the class. So, this test is not all roses and wine.

        The psychological exam is a negative test, they look for signals or oppinions in your behaviour that would deny you a weapons permit. Something like saying “i like to get drunk and then beat the heck out of my kids”, or so. So with some mindful thinking about your replies you can pass it. And there is no limitations on how many trials you take if you fail, and whom you go to for the test. It then just costs more money. So, some poeple say the test is invalid, others say it is. As a matter of fact, given the low number of crimes comitted with legally owned guns, it is valid to say the test is working.


    • Hi there,

      How are Austrians fighting the proposed European Directive that will force even more restrictions on us? Here in France the fight has been ongoing but not as well supported by hunters as it should be – they see it as a sporting owners problem – yet they’ll be next in the crosshairs…..

      I can’t take much more of the fight against legal owners – sure that one day legal owners will join the underground market.

      • Hi!

        There are several individuals and organisations in Austria fighting the proposed EU directive. One of them is the IWÖ, and their forum website has Information whom to write letters and emails to in regards to the directive. Also the german gunstore owner and shooting activist Katja Triebl and the website Firearms United, together with the german all4shooters are actively researching the matter, keeping people up to date, and carry out petitions. She is really a lighthouse, beacon and source for Information in this regard!

        Also the hunting association of my homestate, Niederösterreich, the sent out Information about the EU plans and participates in the FACE (european hunters association) actions against the plans.

        If you go to a gunstore most, if not all of them, have info flyers from the IWÖ around desks and tables, to make people and customers aware of the plans.

        However, it also depends on the number of individual letters towards the EU members of parliament, or at the very least to individual letters of the own people there, to ask them to vote against these plans. I did so, and I think many others did so as well, but we could be way much more! There are some 25oooo legal gun owners in Austria and if half of them would move their … poppos (grrrrr) then it would be a significant sign. And the EU members would drown in letters of people protesting against the planned directive. Add those of Germany and a couple others and the postal service of the EU parliament might go on strike 🙂

        Like always, make yourself heard.


        • Yes Katja Triebl is excellent and she is a real fighter for our cause. Unfortunately the site is based on ‘Facebook’ membership and I won’t have anything to do with that site and their policies and especially FB anti-gun policies.

          Things have moved slowly in France as well. Online sites and gunshops have been slow to act. An online vote never reached a great number. Hunters tend to be older and don’t feel it’s necessary to act. I hunt and try to push them but they are not really interested. I wrote but never got any replies of course….

          Love Austria by the way – my family and I have passed several great holidays there. Have noticed more and more Muslims all dressed in black head-to-toe each time come. I would hate to see this beautiful country destroyed by their culture.

  25. Do criminals in germany abide by these laws?

    I’m not joking, I’m totally serious.

    Do you have “nicer criminals” than we here in america?

    • The two biggest motorcycle gangs and some pimps actually have legal guns, also the organization they are members in maybe criminal. Also remember being a pimp is legal in Germany, if the women working for you do it voluntarily

      • So, if you want to get a gun in Germany, the simplest way is just to start pimping? Makes some sense, I guess, as a pimp with a gun, sounds like just the ticket for the women of Cologne.

  26. I think ttag needs to do an article(s) on the next best place to live gun wise…also known as where would you immigrate to if Hitlery won?

  27. Did anybody else have some dissonance when the author mentioned “RAF attacks” in Germany? I had to reread to grok that RAF referred to the Red Army Faction. I was thinking of a different RAF, which was active in Germany some decades back.

  28. This was very interesting. Thank-you Ms. Bommer and the other comment writers in Germany for informing us about German gun laws and gun ownership.

  29. Very clear that these rules are mostly designed to disarm the “working class” which has neither the time nor the money to go thorough the hoops. I expect most of the legal gun owners are economically much like the Lanza family. Most interesting that the late Frau Lanza of Neustadt Connecticut would have passed all the German requirements to own the weapons that her psycho son killed her for and used at the school.

  30. Sometimes I think the fight to enjoy or sport or a right to defend is finished. Only the Anti-gunners speak out loud. How many million sports shooters and hunters are there in Europe and such a pitifully small number have spoken out.

    Soon only illegal gun ownership will be the option open. After all what is any law but something transient. Like when it was no votes for women, no coloured persons on buses etc etc, uncontrolled immigration . These narrow minded and poorly educated politicians think they know best.

  31. Well, in Italy owning a gun is easier. A lot easier. But only owning it.
    If you have been in the armed forces, you just have to pay some money, pass a medical examination (do you see colors, do you hear me, follow the finger please….), pay some more money and wait 3 months for the police to issue your permit (they admittedly let you wait until the last day just as a measure of discouragement. They are usually extremely fast in making the necessary background checks). If you’re a civilian, you have to take a course at a range (which will force you to take membership (money), pay for the instruction and a few taxes for stamps etc. Once you have your certificate that you can safely handle a gun, you follow the rest of the path like former military personnel.
    This can be a permit to buy and detain guns (any legal guns), a sports or skeet rifle carry permit (although it is called “carry” permit, you actually can only transport your guns to and fro the range and home in a safe, hidden way, separated from the ammo, and buy guns and ammo. You can own as many hunting or sports guns you want, but only 3 “common guns”), and last, a concealed carry permit.
    This is the one that is extremely difficult to get. You have to have a reason, but there is no rule that tells who can apply or what reason is necessary. There is always some police officer, the government officials and sometime some judges, who can say you don’t need any. The issuing of that permit is exquisitely a question of arbitrariness. Just a little example: in the late ’70s-early ’80s, my father was in a very high position in one of Italy’s biggest companies. Since he was no communist and also refused to be kept out of the factory when the crazy stalinists used to strike, he has been repeatedly beaten (he beat back, as he’s a hell of a guy!, but he was always alone. I remember him coming back home some days as blue as an aubergine, but he always got in and did his work. I was so proud of him and now that I understand better how much guts it takes to face a crowd of violent people, I do even more!!!) and, one nice day, he landed on the death list of the Italian Red Brigades (the communist terrorist organization), who defined him “well known fascist” (because he was a Director and did not strike!) to be killed at the first chance.
    He requested a CCP and was refused it because he didn’t need it in the opinion of those who received his enquiry!!!
    He still carried, but at his own risk.

    Other part of the gun ownership: using a gun.
    Using guns is not much different than what has been described above, although we have no limitations in the kind of exercise or type of shooting we want to do. It’s only important that you can demonstrate that you’re following a few rules and that you’re not putting anybody in harms way if you shoot in a private range. In official ranges there are rules set by the organization, and of course you have to follow them if you want to shoot there.
    Some ranges are more flexible or modern, others allow only the classical precision shooting with 5 rounds in the mag. maximum.
    Shooting in woods or in places not protected in some way (natural or artificial) is always prohibited. But again, they may be naturally protected.
    You never know, and if someone calls the police, you’re pretty sure to have a lot of trouble!

    What is identically idiotic as in Germany (or maybe even worse) is the self-defense issue.
    Lately most of those who have been assaulted or robbed at home and have reacted by shooting, have landed in jail and have been condemned to pay enormous amounts of money to the assailants (if they survived), or to their relatives because of the injuries caused to them. AAAAAHHHHHHRGHHHHHHHH!!!!!! That makes me crazy, really!
    Imagine how happy the Italian people are with their judges;-D

    So, deciding to own a gun is still a hassle, but not as big as in Germany (country I know as good as Italy, being professionally always there and having been raised by German teachers).
    Defending oneself or others ist extremely difficult to do, because you probably would act as if you were pulling the handbrake. And that might be very dangerous indeed.
    Add to this that the people and the State (police, judges, etc.) are almost monolithically against anything that resembles courage to react without relying on the public force, and you understand how difficult a decision that might be.
    I myself am not sure I would be able to defend myself effectively, because the thought of all the trouble I would face is certainly going to influence me.
    So I pray never to be called to pick that card!

  32. I completely forgot to mention hunting permits. Like Germany, they are extremely expensive and quite difficult to get. Maybe that’s the only thing I appreciate.
    I like hunting and hunters, but I really think it’s correct to allow only people who know what and when (and where) to hunt, to go and do it.
    What I don’t like is the cost of it. It makes hunting a privilege for few wealthy people, while it should be one for proficient and competent ones, independently from their wealth.

  33. Wow, I cannot believe the hoops that you have to jump through to own a gun in Germany. Well, I’m surprised you can even own a gun there, but still. It’s unbelievable how difficult it is. All that training to hunt? It really kills the industry there.

  34. On the off chance that you have been in the military, you simply need to pay some cash, pass a therapeutic examination. pay some more cash and sit tight 3 months for the police to issue your allow. They are generally greatly quick in making the vital personal investigations. In case you’re a non military personnel, you need to take a course at a range which will drive you to take enrollment, pay for the guideline and a couple of charges for stamps and so forth. When you have your endorsement that you can securely deal with a firearm, you take after whatever remains of the way like previous military faculty.

  35. “…But the reality is if you shoot an intruder in your home, chances are high that you’ll end up in jail. But that’s a larger subject for another day….”

    But all in all a VERY important subject.

    So if some bad guy breaks into your home with a gun (even though said gun was likely obtained illegally) you cannot use your own firearm to defend yourself? Wow…….

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