For decades, European countries have historically maintained some of the heaviest restrictions on civilian gun ownership, leaving the rate of firearms in circulation far below comparable levels in the US and South America. But following a string of high-profile terror attacks in recent years, the number of people applying for legal gun ownership in countries including Germany and Belgium has surged, as European citizens become increasingly concerned about personal security in the face of a wave of Islamic terror and an unchecked migration crisis that has led to a surge in crime.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, in Germany, the number of legally registered weapons rose roughly 10% to 6.1 million during the five years through 2017, the most recent year for which data from Germany’s National Weapons Registry was available. Furthermore, permits to carry arms outside of shooting ranges more than tripled to 9,285 during the same period.
Meanwhile, applications for shooting licenses in Belgium almost doubled following the massacre at a Paris concert venue in November 2015, which was followed four months later by an attack in Brussels, offering "a clear indication of why people acquired them,” according to Nils Duquet of the Flemish Peace Institute, who spoke with WSJ for its story.