What Are Germany's Gun Laws? Gun Violence In Germany Is Considered Rare

According to the AP and Reuters, a gunman entering a theater complex in Viernheim, Germany this Thursday morning has been killed by authorities. At approximately 3 p.m. local time the gunman reportedly fired a shot outside of the theater before entering. Although initial reports claimed hat as many as 25 to 50 people were injured in the incident, reports now indicate that no victims died in the attack. Still, in the wake of yet another incident involving gun use, it is natural to wonder: what are Germany's gun laws?

Gun violence in Germany is considered relatively rare. A National Weapons Register started in 2013 and European Union guidelines strictly monitor the sale and storage of guns. Germany has a high number of guns per capita (5.5 million registered weapons as of 2015), but there is a lengthy process to obtain a weapon, reports The New York Times. Those seeking to purchase a firearm must be 18 years or older, and all persons under 25 seeking to obtain a gun must undergo a psychological evaluation before beginning the process. Convicted felons, persons with any record of aggression, addiction, or mental instability are barred from ownership.

Purchasing a weapon usually takes multiple months. Persons seeking to purchase are required to obtain a certificate proving that they know how to properly manage the gun and ammunition. They also must show that there is a safe and protected place to store the weapon so that no one else is able to gain access. These processes are overseen by the Weapons Authority which is a branch of the police. After a mass shooting in 2009 that left 16 dead including the shooter, German lawmakers tightened restrictions further allowing the Weapons Authority to perform randomized inspections on anyone in possession of a weapon and their homes.

Germany has a national weapons register maintained since 2013, keeping track of every gun in the country. Every gun purchased is required to be registered, no matter the owner’s years of experience.