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Gun ownership: who is allowed to own a gun in Germany?

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Legal gun ownership is subject to regulations

The subject of gun ownership For a long time it was more important for hunters, marksmen and gatherers. But current political developments are causing more and more people to about weapons and the requirements for the acquisition as well as the possession.

Questions like “Is it even possible to own a gun without a gun license?”, “Which guns may be owned?” And “What conditions must be met for gun ownership?” Are just a few of them ask yourself in this context can.

In which form a private gun possession in Germany it is permissible which legal basis there are for this and whether sanctions are imminent in the event of violations of these requirements is dealt with in more detail in the following article.

FAQ: Gun ownership

Is gun ownership regulated by law?

Yes. The Weapons Act determines which requirements must be met for the acquisition and possession of firearms that require a permit.

Is there a certificate of possession of certain weapons?

A legal purchase of firearms requiring a permit must be entered in the weapon possession card (WBK). It is therefore not possible to buy such weapons without a weapon possession card.

Can I buy a pistol without a gun license?

In principle, the purchase is not tied to a gun license, instead the legislature prescribes a gun license.

Are there sanctions for violations of gun possession?

The Weapons Act in Sections 52 and 53 determines which sanctions take effect and when. Accordingly, illegal possession of weapons can be punished with fines or imprisonment of up to three years. In particularly serious cases, ten years' imprisonment is also possible.

Gun possession: clearly regulated by law

After the Figures from the National Arms Register 1.4 million German citizens own approx. 5.5 million legal firearms. Cutting and stabbing weapons are not included in this context, as their possession, if this is legal, does not need to be registered. Usually the gun owners are Hunters, gun collectors, marksmen or entrepreneurs from the security sector.

But also fellow citizens who do not come from these areas, apply more and more often a gun license for possession of certain weapons. The increase in terms of gun ownership in Germany is partly by statistics also easily verifiable. After the last survey of the Federal Ministry of the Interior For example, there were around 264,000 in Germany in 2015 small gun licenses are registered, according to the latest information from the National Arms Register it is now 485,000.

Arguments in favor of gun ownership people find a lot lately. The feeling of security has changed significantly in recent years, also due to the media presence of certain topics. However, whether this is justified is another question.

In addition, is the shooting sport has risen in reputation, which means that more sport shooters would like to purchase their own guns. That despite the increasing interest and desire to own weapons to be able to observe the applicable weapons law should be a matter of course.

The legal basis for the necessary permits to own weapons Weapons Act (WaffG) as well as their two plants. These lay the Conditions fixedunder which weapons may be acquired. In addition, the law and its annexes also describe which legal requirements must be metto own certain types of weapons. It also defines what is meant by a weapon and which types are generally prohibited. Owning weapons is clearly regulated in Germany.

Weapons that can be owned

But what weapons may be owned under what conditions in Germany? In this context it is important to choose between one small and a large gun license as well as one Gun ownership card to distinguish. Each of these weapons permits contain different permits with regard to the possession of certain weapons.

These permits refer only to Firearms. The possession of other genera is either prohibited in principlebecause they are weapons of war or rather legally prohibited weapons acts, or allowed and does not require any further authorization.

Many confuse them also the gun license with the gun ownership card. A large gun license, which entitles you to carry weapons that require a license in public, does not provide permission to own a firearm. The small gun license must be applied for in order to carry weapons that do not require a permit. In this case, possession permission is not required.

A large gun license is in Germany Private individuals usually do not granted. Owning a gun without a gun license is therefore more the rule than the exception.

Who can own weapons?

In principle, every adult German citizen can apply for a gun possession permit. As mentioned, such a gun ownership card is necessary if Weapons requiring a license to be acquired or owned.

It is to be observedthat not only the weapons are subject to the legal regulations on possession, but also the associated ammunition. The application must in writing to the competent weapons authority be submitted. Depending on the federal state, a different agency can act as the competent authority. As a rule, however, these are the Police, the district office or other administrative authorities in the district.

Around apply for a gun ownership card to be able to, must following requirements must be fulfilled in any case:

  • The applicant must be of legal age.
  • Reliability in terms of weapons law must be present.
  • Proof of personal suitability must be provided.
  • Participation in a weapons knowledge course and proof of expertise must be presented.
  • Liability insurance must be taken out.

In addition, the Applicant his needto want to possess a weapon. When examining the application, it will be decided whether the mentioned need is a Sufficiently justified gun ownership.

Danger: As of 2020, applicants must meet the need prove every five years. Sport shooters do not have to prove this for each weapon, but only for the type of weapon. After ten years, proof of permanent association membership is sufficient.

Usually have for example Security guards, marksmen, hunters or weapons experts and collectors such a need. In addition, a certain type of permission can also be issued to heirs of arms.

The gun possession permit, if the need has been recognized, is limited to a maximum of three years. After that, an extension must be requested, which another exam of need.

Gun ownership permits

For gun possession they have to Approvals usually come before a purchase of weapons are requested. If you do not have a gun ownership card, you have to get it from the gun authorities before purchasing it. The acquired weapons requiring a license are then usually by the authority entered on the map.

Depending on the reason for the acquisition and possession of weapons different types of gun ownership card issued. Some of these also limit the number of weapons that can be purchased in a certain period of time.

The green gun ownership card according to § 10 WaffG is issued for hunters and sport shooters. A valid hunting license provides, just like the gun license, no permission for the possession of weapons. Without a valid hunting license, however, the application can be rejected or an existing permit can be revoked, as this may be the need to own no longer exists.

A green gun ownership card is allowed the registration of multi-shot pistols and revolvers. In addition, are Long guns permissible. These include self-loading shotguns, self-loading rifles, bolt-action shotguns or bolt-action rifles and single-shot rifles. Should the card be expanded, the weapons must be reported to the authorities within 14 days of acquisition.

The entry must be made here as a pre-entry before the purchase. The buyer then has one year to actually purchase the weapons. Lies a valid annual hunting license before, these requirements are not applicable. Hunters are allowed to buy long guns without prior authorization. But also applies in this casethat an entry in the gun ownership card necessary within 14 days is.

Such a gun ownership card restricted for sport shooters the defined need for possession. This is also known as the need for regulation. You are therefore only allowed to acquire and register three self-loading rifles and two handguns that are multi-shot. For hunters this restriction does not apply.

For sport shooters is also of importance Gun ownership card in yellow according to Section 15 Weapons Act is issued. With this gun possession permit, the amount of guns that can be registered is not restricted. Usually, however, it is only possible within six months to buy two weapons and register them. In addition, the weapon must be for one discipline in one recognized shooting sports club be admitted.

In addition, the marksman must too Proven to have been a member for at least one year be in a club and have passed a corresponding test so that gun possession is allowed.

Often there each discipline has its own special weapon Has different genera also used in hunting, it is not uncommon for target marksmen and hunters own multiple weapons. However, a gun ownership card only allows ownership and transportation of unloaded weapons that are not ready to fire. A To lead the ready-to-use weapon in the Public is prohibited.

The third variant of a gun possession permit is red gun ownership card. This is usually issued in connection with collectors. The specifications are in Section 17 WaffG held. Weapons experts also receive such a card in accordance with Section 18 WaffG issued. This permit is usually for a certain branch of service or a collection area granted. In exceptional cases a permit for “firearms of all kinds” is also possible.

If an application for a license to own a weapon has been submitted, the weapon authorities will examine it. All requirements are met and if the authority does not see any objections, the applicant can purchase weapons. It is important to know that the applicant for the acquisition and possession of large-caliber sporting firearms must be at least 21 years old got to. If he is under 25 years of age, is a medical-psychological certificate to show.

Small and large gun license

As already mentioned, the Gun license confused with gun license. A gun license is for that Gun possession, however, insignificant, because this only allows weapons to be used in public. That is, people loaded or ready-to-use weapons are allowed outside their home, business premises or pacified property carry with them.

In Germany, between two types of gun license differentiated, the small and the large. Both variants will be only in relation to firearms issued. There is no such license for other types of weapons; they can either be owned or are completely forbidden. A lead from these other genera is usually prohibited.

A small gun license must be applied for for weapons that do not require a permit. For these weapons exist no restrictions on purchase by persons of legal age, a gun ownership card is also not required. A legal weapon possession is in Germany with these weapons usually given. So count among other things Blank guns, irritant gas or signal weapons in this category.

To one acquire a small gun license To be able to do so, this, as well as the license to own weapons, must be obtained from Weapons authority applied for become. Reliability in terms of weapons law as well as personal suitability are required and, in some cases, proof that the weapon has been properly stowed away be detected.

The A large gun license allows it to be used of weapons requiring a license, but is only issued to private individuals in special exceptional cases. Applicants must demonstrate a special need. A specific hazard must exist and cannot be reduced by other measures such as a change in lifestyle or structural modifications.

If a large gun license has been issued, the guns are allowed not at events or meetings be guided. In addition, the reliability is checked every three years. With the amendment to the Weapons Act, from 2020 a regular query will also be made to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as part of the reliability check.

Sanctions for violations of gun possession

Violations of the gun law are usually not punished according to the Criminal Code (StGB). However, gun possession can still provoke some violations and misdemeanors. For the Sanctioning of these are §§ 52 and 53 WaffG crucial. You take care of it Penalty and fine regulations in connection with gun ownership, acquisition, storage and use of guns.


This paragraph defines whether it is a Violation of an administrative offense or a criminal offense acts as well as the level of punishment that can threaten.

So lays Section 52 WaffG regarding the penalties for criminal offenses The following:

(1) Anyone who is punished with imprisonment from six months to five years
1. contrary to Section 2 (1) or (3), in each case in conjunction with Annex 2, Section 1, No. 1.1 or 1.3.4, acquires, owns, surrenders, carries, brings, takes with you, manufactures a firearm or an item mentioned there, processes, repairs or trades in them [...]

Are people not authorized to possess weapons and still acquire weapons that require a permit, there is also a threat of one Up to three years' imprisonment, as illegal possession of weapons is a criminal offense in Germany.

In addition, will negligent handling of weapons with a prison sentence between one and two years or a fine. In particularly severe cases, a Up to ten years' imprisonment respectively.

You can also do with gun ownership certain responsibilities. So gun owners are obliged to ensure that their guns properly kept and for unauthorized persons, especially minors, inaccessible are. In addition, the weapon must be stored separately from the ammunition. The stored weapons are also allowed not loaded and have to be in sealed containers be housed.

Depending on the type of weapon If various legal requirements apply to the containers, a lockable Box, a gun cabinet or a safe to be required.

At weapons requiring a license the authority can this professional storage check and carry out unannounced checks. This is laid down in the Weapons Act and independent of suspicion. These controls are chargeable and the costs are borne by the gun owner.

It comes here to Violations of the provisions of the Weapons Act, this is usually assessed as an administrative offense and marked with Fines of up to 10,000 euros are punished. However, if it is a deliberate violation and it poses a danger to others, this will be done as a criminal offense treated.

Weapons come from improper storage are lost or gain unauthorized access, is with a Fine or imprisonment can be expected from up to three years. Also the deprivation of the gun legal reliability and thus the Gun Possession Permission can in such a case recall become.
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Gun ownership: who is allowed to own a gun in Germany?
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