Germany's stringent gun ownership rules

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Munich gunman fixated on mass killing, had no Islamist ties

BERLIN/FRANKFURT, July 23 (Reuters) - An 18-year-old German-Iranian believed to have acted alone killed nine people in a shooting spree with a pistol at a busy shopping center in Munich on Friday evening.

Here are some facts about acquiring and owning a gun in Germany.

1. Germany has some of the "most stringent" rules around gun control in Europe, according to the U.S. Library of Congress.

2. To own a gun in Germany, it is necessary to obtain a weapon license for which applicants must generally be at least 18 years old and show they have they have a reason for needing a weapon.

3. German authorities can prohibit anyone who is dependent on drugs or alcohol or is mentally ill from obtaining a gun license. People under 25 have to undergo a psychiatric test.

4. After a teenager shot 15 people dead at a school in the southwestern town of Winnenden in 2009, Germany tightened the rules around firearms. Among other things, authorities were given greater authority to check whether guns were stored securely when not in use, and can make spot checks.

Shooting in Munich shopping center:

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Shooting in Munich shopping center
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Shooting in Munich shopping center
A scrren grab taken from video footage shows special forces police officers walking along a street outside the Olympia shopping mall following a shooting rampage in Munich, Germany July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Reuters TV
A screen grab taken from video footage shows police officers near the Olympia shopping mall following a shooting rampage in Munich, Germany July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Reuters TV
A police officer stands guard at the main train station following a shooting rampage at the Olympia shopping mall in Munich, Germany July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
Special force police officers stand guard at an entrance of the main train station, following a shooting rampage at the Olympia shopping mall in Munich, Germany July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
MUNICH, GERMANY - JULY 22: Police officers escort people from inside the shopping center as they respond to a shooting at the Olympia Einkaufzentrum (OEZ) at July 22, 2016 in Munich, Germany. According to reports, several people have been killed and an unknown number injured in a shooting at a shopping centre in the north-western Moosach district in Munich. Police are hunting the attacker or attackers who are thought to be still at large. (Photo by Joerg Koch/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - JULY 22: An armed police officer points his gun in front of a mall were a shooting took place in Munich, Germany on July 22, 2016. Several people have been killed on Friday after an unknown number of assailants opened fire in a shopping mall in the southern German city of Munich. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Police sign blocks the entrance to Odeon square following shootings at a shopping mall earlier on July 22, 2016 in Munich. Six people were killed and several gravely injured on Friday in a shooting rampage at a Munich shopping centre, with the attackers still believed to be at large. / AFP / dpa / Sven Hoppe / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read SVEN HOPPE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police in Munich, Germany respond to a shooting at a shopping center in Munich, Friday July 22, 2016. Munich police confirm shots have been fired at Olympia Einkaufszentrum shopping center but say they don't have any details about casualties. Police are responding in large numbers. (AP Photo/APTV)
In this frame grab taken from video, people run from the Olympia Einkaufszentrum shopping centre after a shooting, in Munich, Germany, Friday, July 22, 2016. Munich police confirm shots have been fired at Olympia Einkaufszentrum shopping center but say they don't have any details about casualties.(Thamina Stoll/UGC via AP)
Armed policemen arrive at a shopping centre in which a shooting was reported in Munich, southern Germany, Friday, July 22, 2016. Situation after a shooting in the Olympia shopping centre in Munich is unclear. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Policemen arrive at a shopping centre in which a shooting was reported in Munich, southern Germany, Friday, July 22, 2016. Situation after a shooting in the Olympia shopping centre in Munich is unclear. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Policemen arrive at a shopping centre in which a shooting was reported in Munich, southern Germany, Friday, July 22, 2016. Situation after a shooting in the Olympia shopping centre in Munich is unclear. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Armed police move past onlooking media responding to a shooting at a shopping center in Munich, Germany, Friday July 22, 2016. Munich police confirm shots have been fired at Olympia Einkaufszentrum shopping center but say they don't have any details about casualties. Police are responding in large numbers. (AP Photo/APTV)
Emergency services respond to a shooting at a shopping center in Munich, Germany, Friday July 22, 2016. Munich police confirm shots have been fired at Olympia Einkaufszentrum shopping center but say they don't have any details about casualties. Police are responding in large numbers. (Associated Press Television via AP)
Police cars and fire trucks stand near a shopping centre in which a shooting was reported in Munich, southern Germany, Friday, July 22, 2016. Situation after a shooting in the Olympia shopping centre in Munich is unclear. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Police secures the area inside a shopping center in Munich on July 22, 2016 following a shooting. At least one person has been killed and 10 wounded in a shooting at a shopping centre in Munich on Friday, German police said. / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Police secures the entrance to a subway station near a shopping mall where a shooting took place on July 22, 2016 in Munich. Several people were killed on Friday in a shooting rampage by a lone gunman in a Munich shopping centre, media reports said / AFP / dpa / Lukas Schulze / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read LUKAS SCHULZE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police and firefighters are seen near a shopping mall amid a shooting on July 22, 2016 in Munich. Several people were killed on Friday in a shooting rampage by a lone gunman in a Munich shopping centre, media reports said / AFP / dpa / Matthias Balk / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHIAS BALK/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officer search a residential area near the Olympia shopping centre after a shooting was reported there in Munich, southern Germany, Friday, July 22, 2016. Several people have been reported to be killed. (AP Photo/Marc Kleine-Kleffmann)
Heavily armed police forces walk through the underground station Karlsplatz (Stachus) after a shooting in the Olympia shopping centre was reported in Munich, southern Germany, Friday, July 22, 2016. (Andreas Gebert/dpa via AP)
Special force police officers stand in front of a car near the Olympia shopping mall, following a shooting rampage at the mall in Munich, Germany July 23, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
QUALITY REPEAT - Special forces police officers stand guard at an entrance of the main train station, following a shooting rampage at the Olympia shopping mall in Munich, Germany July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Dalder TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Police officers are pictured at the entrance of an appartment building following a shooting rampage at Olympia shopping mall in Munich, Germany July 23, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
People are evacuated from the area around the shopping mall Olympia Einkaufzentrum OEZ in Munich on July 22, 2016 after gunmen went on a shooting rampage in the busy shopping centre, killing eight people in a suspected terror attack. The southern city was in lockdown after the shootings, which saw panicked shoppers fleeing the Olympia mall as armed anti-terror police roamed the streets in search of the assailants. / AFP / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
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5. Almost 5.5 million firearms are owned privately in Germany by around 1.4 million people, according to data from the German Firearms Register in early 2013. Germany's population is about 82 million.

6. There are up to 20 million illegal firearms in Germany, the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cited experts in Germany as saying in January.

By comparison, website GunPolicy.org says between 270 million to 310 million legal and illegal firearms are owned by civilians in the United States, where the population is about 324 million.

7. The Federal Criminal Police Office said in its 2015 annual report that the use of firearms had been on a downward trend for years. In 2015 there were 4,289 cases of people being threatened with firearms - the lowest level since 1993. There were 4,711 cases of people or things being shot at in 2015, it said.

8. There were 57 gun homicides in Germany in 2015, up from 42 the previous year - compared with 804 in 1995, according to website GunPolicy.org.

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