World News

Factbox: Ownership of guns, scare devices in Europe

(Reuters) - Europeans in a number of countries are seeking to arm themselves with guns and self-defense devices in growing numbers following a series of attacks by militants and the mentally ill. Here are some figures.

Sporting guns are displayed at Wyss Waffen gun shop in the town of Burgdorf, Switzerland August 10, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

* In Germany, permits for scare devices including blank guns and those that fire pepper spray rose 49 percent to 402,301 in the year to June, federal statistics show.

However, the number of certificates to possess firearms dipped marginally to 1,894,283 from 1,898,360 a year earlier. These are intended for sports marksman or gun collectors who must keep their weapon in a closed container and transport ammunition separately.

The number of licenses for civilians permitted to carry loaded weapons fell to 12,221 from 12,760. These are given only to people considered to be “particularly endangered” or those who need them for their profession.

* In Switzerland, applications for gun permits began rising in 2015 and accelerated this year. Of the 26 cantons, the 12 that responded to a Reuters inquiry all reported higher 2015 applications. Interim 2016 figures show the number of applications continuing to rise.

* In Austria, gun license numbers have risen about 11 percent since last September, roughly double the previous rate. Styria recorded the biggest increase among the country’s provinces at 13.2 percent. It was the busiest entry point for migrants arriving from the Balkans until this route was closed down in February.

* In the Czech Republic, gun permit holders increased 5,944 to 297,966 in the first five months of 2016 following several years of declines.

* In Britain, Home Office figures for England and Wales show 1.33 million shotguns were legally held as at the end of March, a decrease of 0.5 percent from the previous year. The number of other licensed firearms stood at 539,194, an increase of 2.7 percent.

Gun control laws are strict following a 1996 school massacre in Scotland. Handguns are effectively banned for civilians and people wanting to own shotguns and rifles for hunting and sport must show police they have a proper place to use them and that the weapons are stored securely in locked cabinets. Pepper sprays and similar items are banned.

* Gun deaths are higher in the United States than Europe. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported nearly 34,000 firearms deaths in 2014.

* In France, 1,750 people suffered firearms deaths in 2013, according to World Health Organization figures compiled by the group

* In Germany, gun deaths totaled 820 in 2014, down from 926 a year earlier, while Austria reported 250 firearms deaths in 2014. In the Czech Republic, they fell to 191 in 2014 from 208 the year earlier. Switzerland, with more guns per capita than these countries, reported 241 firearms deaths in 2013.

* Suicide is the most common firearms-related death.

Reporting by John Miller in Zurich, Caroline Copley in Berlin, Violette Goarant in Stockholm, Matthias Blamont and Michel Rose in Paris, Giled Elgood in London and Francois Murphy in Vienna; editing by David Stamp