Germany is one of the first EU-members to start the nationwide collection of data about the legal ownership of weapons. The “Nationales Waffenregister” (NWR) contains informations about every owner of legal weapons and every registered weapon. Until now there have been more than 500 local administartative offices that kept their own registers about the legal weapons. These offices will continue their work as before. But starting January 1st, 2012 all the data will be collected and administrated by the NWR.
In Germany weapons have to be registered that are used for sport shooting, hunting, but also antique collectibles. Muzzleloded doublebarreled rifles or shotguns for example have to be registered.
The NWR is a result of a EU-directive. Even if this schedules December 31st, 2014 as deadline, the German home secretary Friedrich is proud to press the start button for NWR two years earlier.
“The NWR facilitates the complex, nationwide research”, Friedrich stated in November 2012; “police will be able to control who owns legally what weapon”. The access will not only be nationwide; according to reports test with data exchange with other EU-nations were already running.
Until now only the legal owner will be registered in the NWR. Producers, licensed dealers, importers and the proofing will follow one day. Because this data is to be protected in a more stringent way, the rules of the German Bundesamtes für die Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI, Federal office for safety in information technology) are part of the NWR.
Those who criticize such projects argue with the non-sense of such a register at all. The statistics of official German bureaus like the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) show clearly, that legal weapons are no danger for the public safety; year per year less than one tenth of a percent of crimes concerns legal weapons – stolen legal ones included. Also the amount of legal weapons was known before the setup of NWR.
Following the argumentation of the castigators a register like the NWR is only burning money and a step toward the surveillance society. A centralized registration of legal owners and legal weapons in addition endangers the law-abiding citizen. As the german weapon law also covers valuable antique collectibles back to the 19th century , those weapons bloat the statistics but will never be fired or even used in a crime.
Even the German date protection commissioners are warning constantly that no electronical system is hack-protected. So it is only a question of time until a hacker will get access to this data. If this should happen the NWR directly leads the way to the depository of precious collectibles.
However the NWR will work and how safe data will be: The register will not prevent a single armed crime. No illegal, unregistered weapon will ever be discovered by an NWR-official behind his screen and keyboard.
More information about NWR