A Czech prosecutor announced Sunday that police found a cache of weapons in the home of a suspected member of a neo-Nazi group after the man admitted that he participated in attacks carried out against migrants, and that his role had been “to protect the leader and team members.”
The discovery of a deadly arsenal in the home of Jan Trionow told authorities that the far-right threat continues to be on the rise in the Netherlands, adding that “criminals looking for a release from the restrictions imposed on their freedom are doing so with weapons.” Trionow told investigators that he helped build and maintain the arsenal in several locations across the country that he accessed via encrypted communication apps. Among the various weapons seized, police found a handgun, two machine guns, an unregistered cannon, grenades, a sniper rifle, and 30,000 rounds of ammunition.
The story of how Trionow managed to sneak in so many guns is striking, including the post-9/11 innovations that the neo-Nazi community and others believe have dramatically reduced the chance of such weapons ending up in the wrong hands.
According to the Daily Mail, German security agency BKA believes that the number of firearms seized by police or claimed by individuals in the country has soared in recent years. According to a 2015 report, the number of seized firearms in Germany increased from 11,573 in 2011 to 13,184 in 2014. A more recent report presented in July this year counted 20,580 guns as having been voluntarily surrendered to German police departments between 2013 and 2017.
With Germany one of the most prosperous and successful industrialized nations in the world, there are more guns than there are gun owners. According to the figures provided by the German government, there are 42 guns per 100 people in the country, but this figure includes German citizens and foreign nationals with German citizenship, and there are thus a multitude of additional guns that simply have not been accounted for.
One explanation for this odd phenomenon is that Germans have never considered it a crime to keep a weapon as a firearm. Basic legislation in the country stipulates that a weapon is only prohibited if it is “feasible” to install one of three kinds of triggers or hand grips. In addition, individuals can own guns “against their will” and continue to use them “unreasonably.” If the weapon is never been used to commit an unlawful act, it is legal to keep it.
Several critics point out that while the situation is legal, it means Germany operates like a Wild West, with no public oversight and little to no accountability.