Out of fear of a possible blackout, more and more Germans apparently want to arm themselves.

After researching the SWR research format “Vollbild” (film online today from 5 p.m. at www.youtube.de/vollbild and in the ARD media library) and the ARD political magazine “Report Mainz” (Das Erste, today 9.45 p.m.), developed an online shop selling over-the-counter airguns that can be easily modified into deadly weapons.

Specifically, it is about compressed air guns, so-called precharged pneumatic weapons. According to the Weapons Act, adults can buy these without a permit if the weapons do not exceed an energy of 7.5 joules. However, the guns are designed in such a way that, according to the seller, they can be converted in a few simple steps so that they then achieve an energy of more than 200 joules, comparable to a police pistol from the 1960s. The parts required for the conversion are already included with the weapon when it is sold.

The SWR research format “Vollbild” and the ARD political magazine “Report Mainz” managed to acquire such a weapon, which is currently not available from the seller. Together with the weapons expert Thomas Malcher, they tested how easy it is to convert the weapon and how strong it is afterwards.

Using standard tools, the professional managed to convert the gun in less than 15 minutes. After the conversion, it was so powerful that it easily shot through a large watermelon. “It’s dangerous, it’s deadly,” was the weapons expert’s verdict. “It’s frighteningly easy, any layperson can do it in the same way,” says Malcher.

In an interview with “Vollbild” and “Report Mainz”, the seller Jörg Sprave, who runs an online shop with freely available weapons and a YouTube account with almost three million subscribers, justifies himself. He brought the American manufacturer’s guns onto the German market. In his videos and when selling, he always points out that conversion and subsequent possession of the weapon without permission is prohibited.

He also had the gun officially removed. “As a result, I did not break the law in any way,” says Jörg Sprave. He also argues that there are “much more dangerous weapons” to buy abroad than this airgun.

According to Jörg Sprave, many of his customers want to buy the weapon in order to prepare for a blackout and possible consequences. “Many thousands of citizens are afraid that public order will collapse this winter,” says Jörg Sprave. Although he himself considers this scenario to be extremely unlikely, the sale of the weapons is justifiable.

“I sell people a piece of provision and a piece of security,” says Jörg Sprave. According to his own statements, he has already sold 8,000 such airguns, 2,000 of which have been delivered. “We can’t even begin to meet the demand,” said the arms dealer. The rush for other weapon models is currently high.

The deputy chairman of the police union, Michael Mertens, criticizes the fact that the air guns can be sold in this way. “It’s a business at the expense of security,” says Mertens, “this weapon can cost lives.” He’s worried about how creative dealers are to meet the need for firearms where it’s actually banned.

He speaks of a legal loophole and calls on the federal government to close it. “If everyone thinks they have to take their rights into their own hands, we’ll soon be living in the Wild West again.”

When asked by SWR, the Federal Ministry of the Interior merely refers to the existing laws. The sale of the weapons is legal, even if the conversion parts are included. Special permits are required for conversion and subsequent ownership. The ministry left open whether it wanted to restrict the sale of such rifles.