Germany has compiled a national register of firearms for the first time. Figures previously held by a multitude of local authorities have been centrally pooled as part of efforts to curb gun violence.
Germany's new national firearms registry established that there were 5.5 million legal guns in private ownership nationwide.
Figures compiled in what has been described as Germany's first reliable nationwide firearms count also showed there were 1.4 million registered owners - an average of approximately four weapons per listed individual.
The information is being collated in a national database that will allow police to keep track of the buying and selling of legal guns across the country. Records were previously kept only at a local level, with some 551 different authorities holding the information.
As the figures were published on Friday, Interior Ministry spokesman Philipp Spauschus said the registry would make a "concrete contribution to public safety."
All European Union countries are required to set up such a registry by 2015.
The issue of gun crime has once again gained prominence in the German media following the US gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 26 people were killed including 20 children.
Germany has also suffered from mass shootings, the most notable recent example being the Winnenden school shooting in 2009, in which 16 people died. The perpetrator of that incident, 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer, used a legally-owned firearm belonging to his father.
rc/ccp (AP, dpa)
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