Challenge for the state? 2,000 ‘Reich Citizens,’ extremists have gun permits in Germany

Almost 2,000 far-right extremists have gun permits in Germany, local media reports, citing federal government data. Opponents insist Berlin is sweeping the problem under the carpet, as such people can be a challenge for the state.

At least 1,200 so-called ‘Reich Citizens,’ who reject the legitimacy of the German government, and 750 far-right extremists have a permit for one or more weapons, Die Zeit newspaper said, citing revelations from the government that came as part of its response to a question from the Green Party on the dangers of right-wing terrorism.

“The amount of arms held by right-wing extremists and Reich citizens remains extremely worrying,” Irene Mihalic, the interior policy spokeswoman of the Greens in the Bundestag, told the paper.

Greens’ Deputy Chairman Konstantin von Notz slammed the discrepancy between the statistically recorded data and the analysis of the government. “At first, federal government explains that right-wing terrorist groups could form spontaneously and have a good digital network. But then, many of their actions are not counted as right-wing terrorist offenses,” he noted.

The enigmatic ‘Reich Citizens,’ or Reichsbürger, is a loose association of nationalist groups across the country who don’t accept the legitimacy of the German government and say that the 1919 Weimar Constitution remains in effect. Many of its members insist that the German Reich should be restored to its pre-World War Two borders. So far, the movement has grown to almost 16,000 members and some of them are reportedly preparing for 'Day X,' allegedly a day of reckoning or uprising against the government.

In 2016, a self-described Reichsbürger in Bavaria fired at police when they attempted to confiscate his firearms. Three police officers were injured, with one later succumbing to his injuries. 

“The number of these people [Reich Citizens and far-right extremists] has significantly increased. Acts of violence towards public officials, policemen have increased in number. If the numbers go on, if these people really use guns… then indeed it’s a challenge for the state,” German politics analyst Werner Patzelt told RT.

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