The number of people holding this type of permit has risen dramatically in Germany. Currently 640,000 citizens are entitled to carry an alarm gun, up from 260,000 in 2014, according to a survey conducted by RP Online of all 16 German states.
In total, there are currently around 5.4 million privately owned weapons in Germany, or 66 weapons per 1000 inhabitants.
In the past 12 months, the increase amounted to around nine percent compared to the same period last year.
In relation to the population, the proportion of alarm gun licence holders is highest in the far northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein, followed by the southern state of Saarland.
The "small weapons permit" is relatively easy to acquire in Germany. They are usually available to anyone over 18 with no previous serious criminal convictions, and who is considered "physically and mentally fit."
The permits allow people to carry a pistol that fires loud blanks in public, though such pistols can be kept at home without a license.
"The problematic increase in alarm gun licenses shows that we must work to restore a sense of security to many citizens,” Malchow said. “A first important step would be a greater police presence on the street."
In Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, 162,952 alarm gun licenses were registered on June 30th.
At 7.1 percent, the increase over the same period last year was below the national average. Yet there are many alarm gun holders in the western state.
For every 1,000 inhabitants, there are around nine alarm gun licences. Only in Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein is this figure higher.
The northernmost German state also recorded the highest annual increase with around 15 percent.
Source: The Local