Will the gun ban make a difference

Navigation and service content

Type: Article, Main topic: Security

The gun law regulates the handling of guns or ammunition, taking into account the interests of public safety and order.

Source: Federal Criminal Police Office

Germany traditionally has a very restrictive gun law. It has been changed several times in the last 20 years due to European legal requirements and event-related changes. The last changes came into effect on September 1, 2020.

With the law on the revision of the law on weapons (WaffRNeuRegG), which came into force on April 1, 2003, the law on weapons was fundamentally revised and restructured. At the same time, the gun and gunfire regulations were split into two laws.

The gun law

Current version of the legal texts Weapons Act (WaffG)

to the legal text

General Weapons Act Ordinance (AWaffV)

to the regulation

The Weapons Act (WaffG) serves to protect public safety and order. Among other things, it regulates all questions relating to the handling of weapons or ammunition, such as acquisition and possession, driving and shooting, storage, manufacture and trade.

It also regulates the conditions under which someone is allowed to own a weapon. In addition, it regulates the permits and exceptions for certain cases and groups of people such as hunters and sport shooters, but also the prohibitions of certain weapons or ammunition. The provisions of the Weapons Act are also specified and supplemented by an ordinance (General Weapons Act Ordinance - AWaffV).

Requirements for a gun license

In order to be able to own or use a weapon, the respective person must meet certain requirements. This includes, among other things:

  • over 18 years of age,
  • reliability in terms of weapons law and personal suitability,
  • Proof of weapons law expertise,
  • Proof of personal need for the weapon and how to use it

The shooting law

Current version of the legal texts Shelling Act (BeschG)

to the legal text

Shooting Ordinance (BeschV)

to the regulation

The Beschussgesetz (BeschG) serves to ensure that weapons and ammunition are safe to use. Firearms, firecrackers, firearms and ammunition as well as other weapons, for example compressed air weapons, irritant spray devices, electric pulse devices, are tested and approved in the interests of safety for users and third parties.

This task is currently carried out by six fire protection offices (Kiel, Cologne, Mellrichstadt, Munich, Suhl, Ulm) and in certain cases by the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt in Braunschweig or the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing.

The provisions of the Shooting Act are also specified and supplemented by a statutory ordinance (Beschussverordnung - BeschussV).

Change of gun law

Frequently askedThird Gun Law Amendment Act: Questions & Answers

Find out more: Third Act to Change the Law on Arms: Questions & Answers ...

The gun law was recently changed by the third law amending the gun law and other provisions (Third Gun Law Amendment Act - 3rd WaffRÄndG). The majority of the new regulations came into force on September 1st, 2020, some as of February 20th, 2020. The German law was thus adapted to the EU Firearms Directive, which was changed in 2017. The policy was changed in response to the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015.

In addition, national regulations have been adapted to international law. This applies in particular to the deactivation of weapons. According to the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2403, it must be guaranteed in future that firearms are finally rendered unusable when they are deactivated.

What are the most important changes at a glance?

  • The continuation of the need under the law on weapons is re-examined every five years.
  • Sport shooters must demonstrate the need to possess their weapons by means of a certificate from the shooting club (from 2026 of the association) that they have practiced shooting at least once every three months or at least six times within a completed period of twelve months in the last 24 months. This proof of shooting can only be provided with one weapon per category (long / short weapon), i.e. with a maximum of two weapons. If ten years have passed since the first firearm was entered in the gun ownership card, a certificate from the club of membership is sufficient for sport shooters to prove the continued need.
  • In the future, only a maximum of ten firearms can be entered in the "yellow gun ownership card", which contains procedural simplifications for less dangerous firearms. For other weapons, the regular procedure for entry in a "green weapon ownership card" must be followed.
  • As part of the regular review of the reliability of gun owners, information from the constitution protection authority will in future be obtained. In the case of members of an anti-constitutional association, even if this is not forbidden, it can be assumed that they are unreliable in terms of weapons law.
  • Hunters are allowed to use a silencer for health protection. In addition, certain forms of night vision technology are exempt from the general ban for hunters.
  • To improve traceability, all essential parts of firearms that are newly manufactured or newly brought to Germany must be labeled. Notification requirements apply to weapons manufacturers and dealers.
  • "Dekowaffen" (firearms rendered unusable) must be reported to the weapons authorities. However, the duty to notify only applies if the weapon in question is surrendered, acquired or destroyed (ownership regulation).
  • "Salute weapons" (sharp firearms that have been converted so that they can only fire cartridge ammunition) will in future belong to the weapon category to which they belonged before they were converted.
  • "Large magazines" (with more than 20 cartridges for handguns and 10 cartridges for long guns) are banned. Magazines that have already been purchased are subject to grandfathering (as of June 13, 2017). In addition, sport shooters can apply for an exemption from the Federal Criminal Police Office.
  • In addition to the legal possession of weapons, the National Arms Register (NWR) now covers the entire life cycle of weapons and weapon parts, i.e. from their manufacture or import to Germany to their destruction or export from Germany. The data required for this are obtained in particular from the commercial arms manufacturers and dealers, who are now obliged to electronically report all handling of arms and weapon parts to the NWR.
  • The law includes the possibility that the federal states can set up weapon and knife prohibition zones by means of statutory ordinances in certain sensitive areas (e.g. public places, near educational institutions, in pedestrian zones) and thus expand them to places where a particularly large number of people are hold up. In contrast to the previous legal situation, the authorization is therefore no longer restricted to places prone to crime. In addition, knives that do not fall under the Weapons Act can now also be recorded, provided they have a fixed or lockable blade of more than 4 cm. The law stipulates that the statutory ordinances of the individual countries should also provide for prohibition exceptions for cases of “legitimate interest”. This is to avoid a ban on everyday behavior (such as the carrying of a knife by craftsmen or anglers).

Implementation of the EU Firearms Directive

The EU Firearms Directive, which was amended in 2017, was implemented into national law with the Third Laws Amendment Act.

Frequently asked questions and answers about gun law

Which weapons are generally prohibited in Germany?

Prohibited weapons are - insofar as they are not subject to the War Weapons Control Act as so-called war weapons - described in Annex 2, Section 1 of the Weapons Act.

What are the requirements for storing weapons and ammunition?

The safe storage of weapons and ammunition is one of the central requirements of gun law for every gun owner. Weapons must be stored in such a way that they cannot be stolen or misused by others (Section 36 WaffG, Sections 13 and 14 AWaffV).

What do you do when you have inherited a weapon?

The heir to a firearm has to apply for a firearm possession card to be issued within one month of accepting the inheritance, provided that the firearm is not rendered unusable in accordance with the statutory provisions or becomes the property of an authorized person. If the heir cannot make a request, firearms must be blocked as a matter of principle. Section 20 WaffG contains more detailed provisions in the event that a firearm is acquired as a result of inheritance.

Where can I find the legal basis for gun law?

Weapons law regulations include the Weapons Act (WaffG) and the General Weapons Act Ordinance (AWaffV). Here you will find all the regulations that are important in connection with the acquisition, possession or carrying of weapons. In Annex 1 to the Act, gun law terms are defined, Annex 2 contains, among other things. the weapon list.

The Shooting Act and the General Ordinance on the Shooting Act (BeschussV) contain provisions for the technical testing of weapons with regard to their safety in use.

Who is responsible for the legislation on weapons and who is responsible for the implementation of the law? Are there international guidelines?

Legislative competence for weapons law is assigned to the federal government. This includes the issuing of supplementary ordinances.

The enforcement of gun law is basically the responsibility of the federal states. Only certain tasks are expressly assigned to federal authorities. That is why it is always advisable to contact the relevant weapons authority in relation to specific matters relating to weapons law. Only they can provide binding information on a case-by-case basis. Further information can also be found on the websites of the federal states.

International specifications for the weapons legislation contains z. B. the European Weapons Directive - Directive 91/477 / EEC of the European Union as amended by Directive 2008/51 / EC.

From what age can you own a weapon if the legal requirements are met? From what age can you use a firearm?

The granting of a gun license requires the completion of the 18th year of life. Under supervision as part of an apprenticeship or at a shooting range, it is possible to handle weapons - depending on the weapon category - from the age of 14. Tested irritant spray devices are also allowed to have young people.

Does the ban also apply to fake weapons and imitation weapons?

The fake weapons named in Appendix 1, Section 1, Subsection 1, Number 1.6 of the Weapons Act also include imitation weapons, i.e. H. non-firing weapons that look like a live firearm. § 42a WaffG stipulates a ban on carrying all fake weapons.

What sanctions must be expected in the event of a violation of the retention requirements?

Violations of storage obligations are an administrative offense and can be punished with a fine of up to ten thousand euros (Section 53 (1) number 19 WaffG). Anyone who deliberately violates the storage regulations and thereby creates the risk of the weapon being lost or being accessed without authorization is committing a criminal offense that is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years or a fine (Section 52a WaffG).

The violation of storage regulations can also lead to the loss of permits under the law on weapons due to a lack of reliability, which would result in the person concerned having to part with his weapons.

Is an unannounced inspection of gun owners possible by the competent authority? What are the prerequisites for this and what is checked?

It is possible for the competent weapons authority to check whether weapons and ammunition have been stored properly, regardless of suspicion (Section 36 (3) sentence 2 WaffG).

When will a weapons register be set up in Germany?

According to the EU Weapons Directive, all member states are obliged to create an electronically managed weapons register nationally by 2014 at the latest. Germany will build this up by the end of 2012 (§43a WaffG).

The aim is to prepare the core information in the German weapons system and to transfer it into a uniform national computer-aided system and thus to make a direct contribution to ensuring internal security. For every weapon that requires a license, it should be possible to understand immediately who is the owner of the weapon, since when he has owned the weapon and where or by whom it was acquired. The path of a weapon that requires a license will be traceable via the current owner and any previous owners to the manufacturer or importer.

Are instructions for making explosives (bombs) prohibited?

Instructions for the production of explosives (bombs) are prohibited (Section 2, Paragraph 3 in conjunction with Appendix 2, Section 1, Number 1.3.4 WaffG). The act can be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years (Section 52 (1) number 4 WaffG).