Sorry for the delay. I’ve been busy at the IWA fair: a firearms convention like the Shot Show in Vegas. I met Mrs. Hoy Versnel of the Second Amendment Foundation and many other people from the pro-gun movement from all over the world. There was lots of talking, well you know . . . You asked for introduction into German gun laws; for a better understanding why Germans often only have few guns. Here’s the basic story . . .
In general, Germans may posses firearms, including semi-automatic handguns/rifles. There are restrictions on the weapon’s caliber, barrel length and brass size. Everything larger than 20mm–20mm comes within German “War Weapons Control Act”—is considered unlawful for private users.
To possess a firearms, an individual needs must provide the state with a reason why they want to buy, own and shoot a particular gun. This can be: sport shooting, hunting or collector/surveyor (the rarest form of gun ownership). There are different requirements to receive permission for each use:
You have to be member of an established shooting club, certified by this sport shooting society for at least 12 months. Before you can buy your first gun you also have to . . .
– provide proof of at least 18 practice sessions within 12 months (i.e. with a rental gun at your shooting club)
– pass a governmental exam of general firearms knowledge (use, laws, handling etc.)
– receive a letter from your certified shooting society stating that you need a gun or guns for a specific shooting discipline (e.g., “precision shooting cal. <.38 25 meters”)
– provide a form establishing that you have no criminal records
If you manage to jump through all those hoops, the state grants you the right to own two hand guns and first three semi-auto rifles. However, you are only allowed to buy two fire arms within six months.
You also receive two different types of owner cards: a yellow “sport shooters firearms owner card” and a green “firearms owner card”.
With the yellow card you are allowed to buy single shot and repeating rifles with a rifled barrel, and double-barreled shotguns (over-and-under 0only, no semi-auto, no pumps). Defacto you go to your gun dealer, show your yellow card and buy such a gun.
The dealer records the sale on your card and informs the authority responsible for your place of living. You have to go to your local authority within 14 days to get a confirmation; they put a seal on your card. The purchased gun must be suitable for a discipline offered by any certified german shooting society (not necessarily the club where you qualified).
All other weapons which don’t apply to the yellow card must be recorded on the gren card. For example, pistols, revolvers, semi-autos, pump action shotguns etc.
It’s more difficult to purchase a firearm with you green card. First, you must maintain your status as a sports shooter (18 training sessions within 12 months). You have to file a petition with your shooting societey for a discipline (i.e. “pistol combined shooting cal. <9mm, 25 meters”).
With copies of both cards (green and yellow) you must show that you actually don’t have another example of the gun you want to buy, or another gun which fits the mentioned discipline. Two guns in same caliber are allowed—but only if you are a succesful shooter at state level (as a backup gun for competition purposes.
If your shooting society provides permission for the new gun, your gun-authority or responsible police office must then endorse the green card, giving you specific permission to buy the specific type of gun. This record is valid for one year.
After you buy the gun, you have to follow the same procedure as stated above: the dealer records the sale to the card and informs the authority responsible for your place of living. Again, you have 14 days to go to your authority to receive a confirmation (a seal affixed to your card).
[FYI I have a 9mm SIG P210, a .45 SVI, .50AE D´Eagle, .357Mag and .44Mag S&W as hand guns. My long guns/rifles are over-and-under shot gun Rottweil 12/70, HOWA .308 rep.rifle, Nagant 91/30 sniper 7,62x54R, .223 AR15 semi-auto by Oberland Arms, .308 M1A semi-auto, 8×57 persian Mauser and my beloved Fortmeier single shot rifle in .50BMG (equivalent to Steyr HS50l). As you can imagine, I have much more than 18 practice sessions within 12 months.]
There are many types of hand guns and rifles which are generaly not allowed for sport shooting purposes, such as rifles with barrels <40cm, bullet case <40mm
To receive a hunting license you must . . .
– pass a government exam of general knowledge (firearms use, laws, handling etc.). The hunters’ exam is very expensive (apx. 2000 EUR). The failure rate is high (apx. 60-70 percent). You have to learn “butchery,” “veterinary,” “ranger,” “groundsman,” “lawyer,” “gunsmith” and “ballistic.”
– provide extended personal record. This includes any information on any government conviction or fine
– purchase a hunting license for one year (apx. 120 EUR)
If you pass the hunting exam and receive a hunting license, you are allowed to buy as many rifles as you can securely store. You’re allowed only two handguns—one in .22lr and one heavy-caliber, both for coup de grâce and questing.
You have to regularly renew (buy) your hunting license, which always requires a criminal background check. There’s no hunting quota; you can be a hunter without shooting any animal anytime but with your safe full of rifles and ammo.
You also have to use your “green card” as a permit to buy a firearm with your hunting license. Once again, the dealer records any and all gun sales on the card and informs the authority responsible for your place of living, triggering the 14 day deadline for an official seal on the card.
As a hunter, you can buy some weapons which are not allowed to sport shooters (or only with special permit). Those include pump-action shotguns (as many you can afford) and short-barreled semi-auto rifles (>40cm barrell, compact black rifles like a mp5, m16).
Unfortunately, you are not welcome with such “harvesters” at a hunting party. Those are restricted to semi-autos with two-shot magazines. This goes back to the “Reich hunting law” by the “Reich Hunting Minister” Herman Goering. The Allies weren’t rigorous enough mucking out those Nazi-crap with their tommy guns and Garands in 1945. Seem your grandpas forget to leave a Second Amendment for us.
Anyway, most German hunters are over 50 years old. Young people have little interest in becoming a hunter; it’s expensive, difficult (exam) and your collegues are almost near to death. Aside from this, hunters don’t get much respect in German society. “Bambi-killer,” “boozing companion” and “sex murderer” are some of the better insults they receive.
As indicated above, collectors are the rarest group of all German gun owners. To become a gun-collector and get the “red collector card,” you have to pass a test on the topic of your collection. For example, you must have profound knowledge of “German handguns of the Wehrmacht” or “long rifles with Mauser-system until 1945.” The two main restrictions: the year of the weapons’ construction may only extend until 1945 and the subject must be specific. No “Weapons of the Allies” or “German handguns.”
After you get the red collectors card, you are allowed to buy guns which apply to your chosen collection area. The purchase procedure is same as a hunter: no mandatory endorsement by third party but reporting to the authority by seller and the buyer with confirmation. Oh, and you need a separate permit to buy ammunition for the collected guns.
In general, a legal gun owner may not receive a Concealed Carry (CC) permit. The government only grants a CC is to people in serious danger of bodily harm of kidnapping, regardless of their status as hunters, sport shooters, collectors or none of the above. Needless to say, politicians at state level are automaticly allowed a CC permit.
Again, as a “normal citizen” you have to establish that you in terrible danger. Being shot more than one time is considered adequate proof that you qualify. Being murdered is the best proof to get a CC. Unfortunately, a posthumous CC isn’t much use. The state does not allow citizens to be buried with a loaded weapon.
The “group of the three” legal gun owners must carry their guns within a closed and locked case, separate from the ammo. Fast access is prohibited. A gun must not be ready to threat/shoot within 10 seconds. The “locked” provision came into force after the school shooting of Winnenden (near Stuttgart) at 3/11/09.
A licensed hunter is only allowed to carry his loaded gun within his hunting ground. If he has to cross a street or motorway to get from one hunting area to the next, he must unload and lock all his guns and enter the second area before unlocking and reloading the guns.
So you now know how to get a gun or rifle here in Germany. Please note that it’s much easier (and cheaper) to get a driver’s license for a 20t gasoline truck. For example, there’s no need for a background-check to drive such a “bomb on wheels.” Crazy laws all over.
Next time I will write a gun review for your “Armed Intelligentsia.” Please tell me which gun of mine is of most interest to your readers. If there are questions left, don’t hesitate to contact me. Kind regards and keep your powder dry, Gung-Ho!