'Potato firearm': Spud gun lands German chef in hot water at Swiss border

A pneumatic potato cannon (photo from wikipedia.org)
A 29-year-old German chef was forced to pay a 300-euro fine for trying to bring his self-made potato cannon into Germany without a firearm permit. The cook, currently residing in Switzerland, was also forced to leave his “gun” with customs officers.

­The incident happened during a routine car inspection at a road border crossing from Switzerland into Germany near the city of Lottstetten, on the German side, according to that country’s media.

German Customs officers discovered a curious, apparently homemade weapon, which the chef had not declared.

It turned out to be a so-called potato cannon, also known as a spud gun.

It is a pipe-based device which uses air pressure (pneumatic), or combustion of a gaseous fuel to launch projectiles at high speeds, up to 250kph.

The gun usually fires potatoes, but doesn’t refuse apples, tangerines, or tennis or golf balls, the latter being particularly dangerous if fired at people. Such launchers, however, are usually used for fun shooting and recreation in open areas and far from people and buildings, without intent to harm people or damage property.

In the legislation of many countries, including Germany, there is no clear definition of a potato cannon potentially being classified as a conventional firearm. German police are inclined to regard it a firearm, while the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, for example, does not classify spud guns as such.

The owner therefore was forced to pay a 300-euro fine for owning the gun without a firearm permit and had to surrender his weapon at the checkpoint.

The reason the chef was “packing” his potato cannon was not revealed.