Imagine a vast registry that details every legal gun owner in the country, along with information about all of their firearms. Now imagine the gun lobby not making a fuss about it.
That’s what has happened in Germany, where a new gun database went into service at the beginning of the year. Until recently, some records were kept on index cards across what used to be 551 separate local registries. Now, law enforcement officials can sit down at their computers and scroll through lists of owners and their guns in seconds.
Hunting is popular in Germany, and gun manufacturers are plentiful and powerful. But the push toward increased regulation and oversight, spurred by a string of school shootings in recent years, has come with little opposition from gun groups. Many gun advocates say that if cars can be registered and regulated, so can weapons.
The tone is far different from that in Washington, where the Newtown, Conn., shootings have prompted President Obama to unveil new proposals to ban assault weapons and tighten background checks.