Germany will tighten its gun laws and make it easier to expel extremists from the civil service after a far-right coup plot was uncovered last week, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Wednesday.
Twenty-five alleged plotters, including an ex-MP, former soldiers and aristocrat and businessman Prince Heinrich XIII Reuss, were arrested last Wednesday in huge dawn raids across the country.
Prosecutors say they had amassed an arsenal of weapons and were planning to overthrow the state and install their own government.
A total of more than 50 people are being investigated for links to the plot, including current and former members of the police force, according to media reports.
Faeser said she wanted to tighten the law to “remove enemies of the constitution more quickly from the civil service in future”.
“This serves above all to protect the vast majority of employees in public administration who carry out their duties very well,” she said.
The government will also will “take legal measures in the area of tightening the weapons law”, such as increasing checks on people who own weapons, she said.
According to Die Welt newspaper, police seized 93 weapons belonging to members of the group, including 19 handguns and 25 rifles.
However, plans to tighten gun laws may be met with opposition from the liberal FDP, currently in government with Faeser’s Social Democrats and the Greens.
FDP Justice Minister Marco Buschmann this week told the RND broadcaster he was opposed to such a move since “even the strictest weapons laws don’t really help when people are obtaining weapons illegally”.
Faeser also said the cabinet had agreed a new law to make funding streams more reliable for civil society organisations working to stamp out extremism.
Commenting on the plans on Twitter, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said “anyone who wants to divide, who plans a violent coup, will have us to reckon with”.
Prosecutors say the alleged plotters belong to a movement known as the Reichsbürger, which encompasses far-right extremists, conspiracy theorists and gun enthusiasts.
The Reichsbuerger generally believe in the continued existence of the pre-World War I German Reich, or empire, under a monarchy, and several groups have declared their own states.
The group busted last week had been making preparations to form more than 280 “homeland security companies” across the country, according to German media.
Those under investigation reportedly include a police officer working in the area of right-wing extremism in Lower Saxony and a former detective chief inspector in the Hanover police department.
Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a former member of parliament for the far-right AfD party and a Berlin judge, was among those arrested.
At least two other people who are or were active in the AfD at a regional level are also under investigation, according to Der Spiegel magazine.
Source: The Local