The German Federal Criminal Police Office (The Bundeskriminalamt, or BKA) just issued a guidline covering the essential parts of the new EU Firearms Act, and how the government chose to implement it into German Law. Unfortunately, Germany went further than the minimum level set by the European Union. The Weapons Act was amended in Germany as of February 19, 2020, and the legal classifications of certain components for firearms changed.
The guide (in German) describes the changes and presents them using detailed photos, and only covers the essential parts of the new law.
Please note that this is a guideline, not the law or how it will be judged. The texts are auto-translations from German to English, at no point should anything in this text be considered to be the law.
From the beginning of the Guide from BKA:
After several years of discussion and political necessity, especially against the background of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2015, the “DIRECTIVE (EU) 2017/853 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 17 May 2017 amending Council Directive 91/477 / EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons”, also known as the EU Firearms Directive.
While EU regulations immediately set the law in force within the European Union, EU directives must be implemented by the member states in their own laws. The now present Third Law amending the Arms Act and other regulations (3rd WaffRÄndG) adapts the national provisions of German arms law to the provisions of the EU Firearms Directive.
Purpose of this guide
The explanations and representations made here refer to the fundamental changes and expansions of the WaffG for essential weapon parts. Special features are also considered.
However, such a guide cannot detail all the existing model variants or explain firearm models, which are generally referred to as exotic.
These guidelines were drawn up by the Federal Criminal Police Office on behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, for construction and home, in cooperation with the technical control center of the National Arms Register, Authority for the Interior and Sport of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
A first look at the M16 versus AR15:
If we take a look at “Automatic and semi-automatic long guns”:
Until the EU Deactivation Regulation came into force on June 28, 2018, it was possible (in Germany) to purchase decorative and salute weapons based on fully automatic Colt M16 rifles. The same applies to individual parts of this weapon, i.e. semi and fully automatic carriers, upper receivers, etc.
This may sound absolutely strange compared to, for instance, the US market, but TFB has reported about it several times in articles like Zib Militaria – A Veritable Machine Gun Cave Of Wonders, HK416 Lower and full auto parts for sale in Europe and AR-15 Mod. 613 Pre M16A1 Colt.
The color codes on these pictures are:
Gray – no essential weapon parts
Blue – essential weapon parts
Red – parts (or firearm) prohibited
So far so “good” and fairly understandable, but one of the issues will be that the Bolt Carrier, which in most countries is considered to be a “no essential weapon part”, is prohibited if it has the wrong design.
This means that you need to know what is under the “hood” of your AR15. For most if not all AR15 Made in Germany this is not an issue, but I’m pretty sure there may be some AR15s with the now illegal type of bolt carrier inside (while not being fully-automatic by any means). Example pictured below:
In the current German law, the bolt carrier of a fully automatic Colt M 16 rifle is a prohibited weapon part. Therefore, when replacing the bolt carrier it is very important to pay attention to what you are using.
Below: The difference is small, but could also be the difference between you going to jail or not.
Also check picture 44, top in this article, for more details.
Red indicates “Verboten! Kriegswaffe!” which means “Forbidden! Weapon of War!”
Previously, the lower of an M16 or an AR15 were free. However, with the new law, complete lowers from Colt M16 rifles are prohibited essential weapon parts. The lower housing part for a fully automatic Colt M 16 rifle is a prohibited weapon part as well.
There is no mentioning what happens if you have an M16 lower with a semi-auto function. I can only assume that this is forbidden in Germany regardless.
Other firearms (Examples)
The AK 47
The Kalashnikov AK 47 fully automatic rifle is probably the most common firearm in the world. Although the individual components are interchangeable regardless of the country of manufacture and quality, the AK 47 is not a modular weapon.
The barrel is pinned to the housing in which the trigger mechanism is located. The housing also carries the breech, so that the AK 47 has only a one-piece housing as an essential weapon part. The housing closes at the top with a lid.
Please note the length of the magazine as well.
Springfield Armory M1 A and M14
Based on the principle of operation of the Garand M1 semi-automatic rifle in the 7.62mm x 63 caliber (.30-06 Springfield), the US armed forces introduced the fully automatic M14 rifle in the 1950s. This was set up for the 7.62mm x 51 caliber.
Civilian weapons of this type are very popular in the U.S.A., due to the almost general classification of both the fully and semi-automatic version as a weapon of war, very few vendors have brought Springfield M1A rifles to the German market.
The BKA guide goes into great detail with pictures of the different models, describing which ones that are blue (OK) or forbidden (red).
The fully automatic firearm, which was originally designed as a submachine gun and was introduced by the Bundeswehr as the MP 2, was also manufactured as a civil, semi-automatic version. The latter were mostly sold outside the scope of the Arms Act for various reasons, but civilian semi-automatic versions are now also sold in the Federal Republic of Germany.
In the case of the civil semi-automatic variants, the upper and lower parts of the housing form weapon parts that require authorization. The UZI was originally a fully automatic long weapon, so that the weapons derived from this original weapon are not to be assessed in terms of their parts like civilian weapons…
The Heckler & Koch G3
No German guide is complete without the HK G3, and its clones. The basic concept already described above for the Colt AR 15 / M16 is also valid for the semi-automatic rifle shown here. Of course, there are differences due to the different structure of the G3 weapon family. G3 lowers have been allowed until now.
Maschinengewehr 42 – MG42
A German guide wouldn’t be complete without an MG42 Machine Gun. It seems that if you own a semi-automatic version (they seem to exist), you are still good to go as long as you have a firearms permit.
If a civil dedication is recognizable, then it is only a weapon part requiring a license
You can download the guide here (pdf). It is in German and 55 pages long, so don’t download it for the sake of it. However, for anyone who is deeply interested, it’s a nice reference with many pictures and references.
I hope you found this compression and translation of the new guidelines interesting. Please take care and follow the local and national legislations.
In similar news: Swiss People Vote For Gun Control To Comply With E.U. Agreement, The EU Firearms Directive – Latest News from Spain, Netherlands: Possible law to register ethnic origin & religion of gun owners and Norwegians to lose their semi-automatic hunting rifles. Scrap or Export!
It’s difficult to find positive news at this moment, but there have been some: Czech Senate to Introduce Constitutional Amendment that Adds the Right to Carry and Use Weapons for Self-Defense.
Please note that this is an article about Firearms Legislation, not politics.