- Cullman, Alabama

National News

January 21, 2013

INTERNATIONAL: Germany initiates gun registry, to barely a peep



"This is something that is sort of unanimously supported when it comes to political parties," said Jan Arend, an official in Germany's Green Party who has worked on shaping gun legislation. "I can imagine what the outrage would be in the United States."

In 2010, the latest year for which data is available, 26.3 percent of homicides in Germany were committed with a firearm, according to U.N. statistics; in the United States, that figure was 67.5 percent.

"We now have the instruments that we need," said Dennis Golcher, an official in the weapons administration section of Berlin's police department. "We really appreciate this national register. It has considerably improved our work."

Many German gun enthusiasts view their American counterparts with a mixture of envy and raised eyebrows.

"Maybe it's a cultural difference," said Goepper, the member of the gun rights group. "Maybe we are used to being treated badly as gun owners in Germany."

Some gun owners say they expect a certain amount of regulation, even if they would prefer that their country used a lighter touch.

"If you drive a car, you need a driver's license, and they also tell you what is dangerous with your car," said Katja Triebel, whose family has owned a gun store in Berlin's Spandau district for 90 years. "The same should be the case with guns."

Triebel — who was wearing stylish black plastic-frame glasses and the red pants favored by German outdoors enthusiasts — said that her primary concern with the registry was that it was too easy for the wrong people to take a look at it.

"Collectors are worried they will be robbed," she said. "And everything that is registered can be taken away by the government."

Washington Post special correspondent Petra Krischok contributed to this report.

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