Limitations on Weapons in East Germany

Horrified at the continued string of shootings in the USA I am forced to reflect about the situation I knew in the long defunct (East) German Democratic Republic.

My late brother-in-law was a passionate hunter, and hunting, unpleasant as it is to many, was considered necessary to limit excessive numbers of deer, to save young trees and woods, and wild boar, to save needed vegetable and potato fields.

He had taken and passed the courses on proper weaponry, shooting ability, ecology and hunting rules (no does with fawns, for example), which provided him with a license and the right to own a weapon – a hunting weapon.  But he was not allowed to keep it at home; he fetched it, when he went hunting, from  the local forest ranger, along with an allotment of ammunition which he later had to account for, bullet for bullet, when he also turned in a good edible portion of the meat (which was distributed to publicly-owned restaurants).

He was a good shot, avoided cruel wounding, and accepted these rules without any complaints I ever heard. For those interested in sport shooting, similar rules were involved; a license test (as with driving), no weapons in the homes, regular shooting ranges and accountability for all ammunition used.

Was this a limitation of freedom? Of course it was. Was it also aimed against possible insurrection or protest? Quite possibly. Did it prevent, almost totally if not totally, the shooting of human beings, often enough schoolchildren? Very definitely. Did it preclude profiteering from any such killing? Absolutely 100%.  Are there two sides to everything? I guess maybe so. Those rules are now defunct.

Side thought; if there were restrictions – or rather bans – on profiteering from giant weapons – stealth drones, bombers, missiles, aircraft carriers – would we have a more peaceful world? I suspect we would.

Victor Grossman writes the Berlin Bulletin, which you can subscribe to for free by sending an email to: