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Over 1,000 German right-wing extremists hold gun licence

In World
April 05, 2024

More than 1,000 suspected right-wing extremists in Germany were known to hold a firearms permit at the end of 2022, according information from the government.

A total of 1,051 suspected right-wing extremists, some 400 far-right Reichsbürger (Reich Citizens) and others who reject the legitimacy of the German state were known to hold at least one gun licence, according to an answer by the government to a question from the hard-left Die Linke (The Left) party seen by dpa on Friday.

The Reich Citizens movement is a loose association of people who do not recognize the state and wish to overthrow the government. The domestic intelligence service estimates that around 23,000 people across Germany were part of the scene in 2022.

In 2022, 181 suspected right-wing extremists had their firearms permits revoked or returned them after pressure from the authorities.

The information had already been published by the Bundestag. Final figures for 2023 are not yet available.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser presented an internal draft for the tightening of the gun laws in January last year following New Year’s Eve riots and the uncovered coup plans of the Reich Citizens group.

The Free Democratic Party (FDP), junior partner in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s centre-left coalition, has so far rejected any changes to gun laws and instead favours better enforcement of the current law.

For the end of 2021, the government had named 1,561 right-wing extremists, some 500 Reich Citizens and other proponents of self-government with weapons licences.

However, it had also pointed out at the time that the figures varied constantly, due to the “continuous updating of corresponding data records in the files of the constitution protection authorities [the domestic intelligence services].”

The government wrote that since the establishment of the Reich Citizens and Selbstverwalter (Self-governors) phenomenon in November 2016 and up to December 31, 2022, some 1,125 gun licences had been withdrawn.

In view of the figures, Die Linke lawmaker Martina Renner told the RND media group that the authorities needed to take “concrete action against armed Nazis and Reichsbürger.”

It is dangerous that the government is “not taking the necessary measures in the field of weapons law and is in danger of failing,” she said.

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