On January 1, Germany’s Federal Administration Office in Cologne put into effect a national gun registry that will help make the work of the German police a lot easier. But it is not just the police that reap the benefit. For the first time, Germany now has a better grasp on how many guns are out there in Germany. Before the register went live, it was estimated that between 5 and 10 million legal guns were in circulation in the country and the actual number turned out to be on the lower side of the initial estimate with 5.5 million firearms being registered to 1.5 million Germans.
Before the register went live, authorities looking for information on a particular firearm and its owner had to weed through the 550 local weapons databases which often required an individually written request to each one. Now, within a matter of seconds, authorities will be able to pull up the name, address, gender, age, and exact details of the guns owned by an individual. This will be a huge timesaver for authorities, but there is still some more work to be done.
Later on this year, an extension on the registry is expected to go through that will track the life-cycle of every registered gun. Beginning with the manufacturing all the way to when the gun is destroyed, this trace will show if a gun has changed ownership at any time. For example, if a gun was used in a murder and later sold to someone else, police would ideally be able to look at who owned the gun at the time of the crime.
Of course, none of this covers illegal firearms which are not registered and therefore won’t appear in the new national gun register. This number could be very high with an estimated 20 to 40 million illegal guns in Germany. What the gun register will do is quickly reveal whether or not the gun is illegal once the database search is completed. If the weapon doesn’t show up in the results, chances are that the gun is illegal.