Amid anxiety over the number of refugees crossing its borders, Germany has seen a rise in the number of licenses for nonlethal weapons — which includes pepper spray and guns that fire blanks — over the past three months, the Local reported Tuesday.
The number of licenses for these types of weapons rose 21,000 between November and January. With the total number of nonlethal weapons in the country now at 301,000, some worry having these types of weapons would only escalate a security situation instead of calm it.
“It’s not hard to imagine people at big events jumping for their weapon too quickly and in the end inciting violence or chaos through their actions,” Irene Mihalic, German Green Party MP, told the Local.
After more than 100 reports of sexual assaults during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne, demand for weapons such as pepper spray, stun guns and gas pistols increased in Germany, Deutsche Welle reported. Some self-defense instructors in Cologne also reported an increase in the number of women signing up for classes after the attacks.
The increase in weapons sales also comes after last November's terror attacks in Paris, which left at least 130 people dead, and in San Bernardino, California. Both incidents have raised concerns over security across the globe. Ingo Meinhard, head of Germany’s association for weapons dealers, told the Associated Press the spike was more likely to do with an increased security concern over terrorism instead of an influx of refugees was war-torn areas of the Middle East.
Germany recorded an influx of more than 1 million refugees in 2015, and the country is expected to see high numbers again this year. After the New Year’s Eve attacks in Cologne, which were blamed mostly on foreigners, police said groups of refugees were attacked, CBS News reported. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had originally been more inviting to refugees, but has since had to change her tone amid backlash.