Germany's National Firearms Register, which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, recently published its first statistics. A total of 5.4 million legal weapons are registered with private owners in the country. The most are registered in the state of Bavaria (1.1 million), followed by North Rhine-Westphalia (1 million) and Baden-Württemberg (700,000). Approximately 550 German authorities submitted data. The introduction of the register is broadly seen as a political reaction to killing sprees in Erfurt in 2002 and Winnenden in 2009. Moreover, the European Union has stipulated that all member states must launch central firearms registers by the end of 2014. Germany has the fourth highest per capita number of legal firearms, lower than the United States, Switzerland and Finland -- but higher than Mexico, South Africa and Russia. Germany's largest police union, the GdP, estimates there are up to 20 million illegal firearms in Germany.
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