Comparing Gun Control: How do you get a firearm in Germany?
BERLIN (KSNV) —
Mass shootings in the United States have caused polarizing opinions when it comes to gun reform in the U.S.
News 3’s Faith Jessie traveled to Berlin, Germany, a place with some of the strictest gun laws in the world, to learn about how their process works
Berlin has similarities to America, but the process of getting a gun is not one of them.
At the western edge of Berlin, in a town called Spandau to meet Katja Triebel, the vice president of the German Rifle Association. Triebel helps to run a gun shop her family has owned for a century.
According to the German National Firearms registry there are 1.5 million licensed gun owners in Germany, which is little more than 1% of their population. The United States has no official firearms registry, but a Pew Research study shows an estimated 30 percent of the populations owns guns.
Triebel’s family business relies on the demand for both airguns and firearms. Fermans have to be licensed to own a firearm and the licensing process has many steps.
“First you can buy blank firing guns if you are 18. You need now a days a license if you carry them loaded,” says Triebel.
Triebel tells News 3 that the low number of gun owners might be because it’s so hard to get a firearm. In Germany, those who want to own a gun have to prove to the government that they have a reason to have one and go through hours of training.
“For the hunting license, you cannot just go to the government and pay for it. You have to make a course with at least 180 hours studying,” said Triebel.
After training, there is a written test and everyone under the age of 25 needs to get a psychological evaluation. This test, became law after a school shooting in 2003.
Dr. David Schiller with ProLegal says the test aims to find the mental state of any potential gun owner.
“Basically, they are looking for maturity,” Dr. Schiller said. “Are you mature enough to accept the responsibility that comes in owning guns? Is there a record of mental problems in the family or in the child or in the up growing? Has he ever been under the influence of any medical psychological medical drugs?”
%hose who do meet all the requirements must have a secured storage before they are issued their license.
Some German gun owners describe the process as rigid, but would it work for Americans?
According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), the German process infringes on the United States’ second amendment.
“Requiring someone to undergo a mental evaluation before exercising a constitutional right is unconstitutional,” said Catherine Mortensen, NRA spokesperson.
The NRA says there’s already a control system in place; The National Instant Criminal Background Check.
“Their names are run through that database and if they have any prohibiting factors which can include mental health issues or past criminal background, those things will be picked up by that database,” said Mortensen.
Still, the NRA says the system can be improved. To date, there is no federal law in place requiring states to participate.
The NRA says Americans should have the power to protect themselves without government intervention, while in Germany it’s the opposite.
“We have to trust the government , it will protect us, this is the general protection of the people,” said Triebel.
This is something that Triebel wishes would change.
“Give the empowerment back to the people,” Triebel said. “if they do something wrong, they have to pay for it, they have to pay big for it.”
Becoming a licensed German gun owner is a process that can take more than a year. Once, and if, a license is granted, law enforcement officials will verify a need still exists for the gun every three years.