Austrians snapping up shotguns as thousands of Mideast refugees enter country
“Yes, I can confirm, the demand in Austria for weapons is growing. My revenue doubled in September. And in October it has doubled again, and we are still in October,” a gun shop owner told RT.
Obtaining a firearms purchase license in Austria involves passing special courses concerning basic handling and knowledge of weapons. The gun shop owner confirmed to RT that the number of people taking the gun handling courses has increased tremendously.
“In the past, I had one appointment a week for ‘weapon license training’ with one or two people. Now I have a fixed second event, with 6 to 10 people attending,” the gun dealer said.
“Most of the people who came to me in the last week for a consultation or to buy a weapon, are telling me, and I always ask them, that the reason for buying is the ‘current situation’ in Austria,” the man told RT.
The “current situation” in this context is the influx of refugees entering Austria.
Up to 8,000 migrants cross the border every day, with authorities saying numbers could soon rise to 12,000.
Austrians seem to be getting nervous. They have bought 70,000 guns this year alone, according to police. In a country with an estimated population of 8.5 million, there are currently about 900,000 privately owned guns.
In the face of the migrant crisis, the country's government seems to be at a loss at how to tackle the problem with asylum seekers.
Just two months ago Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann was an outspoken critic of Hungary's initiative to erect fences on its border, saying at the time it would solve nothing.
“To think that you can solve something with a fence… I believe this is wrong,” Faymann said.
Fast forward to the end of October and the chancellor announces the start of special construction measures, at Austria’s border with Slovenia.
The move triggered a negative reaction from the EU. After a phone call with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the two officials issued a joint statement: “The president and the chancellor repeated their common position that fences have no place in Europe.”
Austria’s Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said on Wednesday that the decision about a fence “is about ensuring an orderly, controlled entry into our country, not about shutting down the border," the Local cited the minister as saying to public broadcaster Ö1.
“Also, a fence has a gate,” she added.
Austrian activists are staging anti-refugee demonstrations at the Slovenian border, demanding national authorities tackle the problem.
Germany is unhappy with Austria for allowing refugees through their common border after dark.
“Austria's behavior in recent days has been out of line,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said.
Speaking to journalists in Berlin on Wednesday, the minister revealed that large numbers of refugees coming to the country are from Afghanistan and not Syria.
“Afghanistan is in second place for the number of cases being handled. That is not acceptable,” the Guardian cited de Maizière as saying.