Germany Battles Right-Wing Extremists' Legal Access to Weapons

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.05 - 2024 10:16 AM CET

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Photo: Juergen Nowak / Shutterstock.com
Photo: Juergen Nowak / Shutterstock.com
Recent government data reveals a concerning trend in Germany: nearly a thousand right-wing extremists, including "Reichsburgers," legally possess firearms.

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In Germany, the unsettling revelation that approximately a thousand individuals with right-wing extremist affiliations legally possess firearms has sparked widespread concern.

According to a response from the federal government to inquiries made by left-wing parliamentarians, around 400 so-called "Reichsburgers" and 1,051 individuals associated with right-wing extremism were permitted to own weapons as of the end of 2022, Tagesschau reports.

A Trend of Concern

The government's data reveals a somewhat proactive approach in curbing this issue, with 181 gun licenses revoked from those suspected of right-wing extremist links in 2022 alone. This represents a decrease from previous years, where 1,561 right-wing extremists and about 500 "Reichsburgers" were recorded as having permits to store weapons.

However, the data for 2023 remains undisclosed.

The term "Reichsburgers" refers to individuals who reject the current German state structure, often adhering to ideologies that deny the legitimacy of the Federal Republic of Germany. This group, along with other right-wing extremists, has been under increased scrutiny since 2016. Since then, over 1,120 permits have been revoked from individuals with such ideologies, amidst growing awareness of approximately 23,000 residents endorsing "Reich" citizen ideologies.

A Growing Threat

The presence of armed individuals with extremist views has prompted calls for decisive action. Martina Renner, a Member of Parliament from the left party, voiced her concerns to RND, stating, "Concrete actions by the authorities against armed Nazis and 'citizens of the Reich' are necessary."

She criticized the federal government's approach to gun legislation as insufficient, pointing to the risks posed by not implementing more stringent measures.

The issue of right-wing extremism extends beyond civilian gun ownership, touching even the police forces. Investigations are underway for 400 police officers suspected of harboring far-right extremist sentiments or subscribing to conspiracy theories.

Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel warned of the economic dangers posed by the rise of right-wing extremism in Germany.

According to Nagel, this growing ideological threat could undermine the country's prosperity, public safety, and economic stability.

A Call for Solutions

As Germany confronts the challenges of right-wing extremism, the need for a holistic approach becomes apparent.

Beyond revoking weapon permits, there is a critical demand for reforms in gun legislation, enhanced surveillance of extremist groups, and efforts to dismantle the ideological foundations that fuel such movements.

The situation also calls for a broader societal engagement, including education, community initiatives, and public awareness campaigns to combat the spread of extremist ideologies.

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