Weapons sales are soaring in Germany, prompting fears that a migrant crimewave and terrorism have made people feel unsafe.
Germans held a record 557,560 licences for minor arms by the end of last year, compared to 300,949 in January 2016.
The surge of more than 85 per cent in just two years has left some dealers of non-lethal weapons such as air and stun guns unable to keep up with demand.
The recent surge in gun ownership is exemplified by student Carolin Matthie, who has become an internet sensation
While the exact reason behind the increase remains unclear, some experts have blamed the fallout over Angela Merkel’s decision to open the door to one million refugees in 2015.
Since then Germany has experienced a 52.7 per cent spike in crime carried out asylum seekers, mostly young men, including the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne.
Others said the spate of terror attacks in Europe over the past few years had driven people to arm themselves.
Ingo Meinhard, from the Association of German Gunsmiths and Gun Dealers, said such atrocities had fuelled ‘uncertainty’. ‘After the barbaric attacks of November 2015 in Paris, young and old, both male and female, came from all walks of life and asked for free defence,’ he said.
The recent craze over gun self-defence has been exemplified by Carolin Matthie, a computer science student in Berlin, who has become an internet sensation.
Some experts have blamed the fallout over Angela Merkel’s decision to open the door to one million refugees in 2015 as behind the increase in gun ownership
The part-time model, 24, was prompted to buy a £166 Walther P99 air pistol in 2016 after being followed back to her university halls by six drunken men shouting at her in a foreign language.
Since obtaining the £40 permit – which simply requires the purchaser to be over 18 and have a clean criminal record – Miss Matthie has been posting online tutorials for women on how to use the weapons.
She said the gun offered her reassurance because she knew she would ‘have a plan if attacked’.
But Holger Stahlknecht, a minister in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, told the German paper Handelsblatt the sense of security was ‘deceptive’ because the weapons could make the situation worse.