Weapons are often inherited, the recipients of the estate are then usually unprepared before the question of what to do with the weapons.
Here you will find an overview of the most important information on the subject of inherited weapons.
Inheritance and the law on weapons - inheritable goods
The inheritance law in the European area is subject to strong laws, which do not stop even before weapons. As an heir, it is basically your right to take weapons and all accessories from the estate into your possession. However, this is accompanied by a high administrative burden.
What happens when you inherit a weapon?
First of all, you are obliged to inform your local firearms authority about the inheritance. Simply forgetting or ignoring this obligation is punishable by a fine of up to EUR 10,000.
Finding the responsible firearms authority may be somewhat difficult, because the authority is usually subordinate to another authority, depending on the city or county. In that case, a quick Google search, or a call to the local ordnance or district office or the nearest police station will help.
Once the first step has been taken, it is important to find out whether the testator (the deceased) was also authorized to possess the inherited equipment. This is either in the form of a weapons license, a weapons possession card, a hunting license or several of these documents (unless they are free weapons). In such a case, you may keep the weapons, but you must apply for the relevant documents yourself at the authorities. And this under time pressure: from the time of the explicit acceptance of the inheritance, you usually have only one month to do so. If you miss this deadline and still keep the weapons, you will again be subject to a fine in the aforementioned amount.
The resulting side effect is that the authorities may question or even deny your reliability - and then it becomes difficult. Because the reliability is in turn a prerequisite for the application for the WBK.
Can I get a weapons possession card as an heir?
In principle, yes, as long as you yourself are not subject to a weapons ban and do not already possess one. If there is a weapons ban, a lengthy court procedure will be initiated. If you already have a weapon possession card, only a registration of the weapons on you is to be accomplished.
There are two ways of obtaining the WBK (in the course of inheritance):
A need is not to be proven in the case of an inheritance, however, you must have your weapons rendered unusable if you cannot prove expertise. If you are a member of a shooting club, a collector or have a hunting license, you have a need and the expertise is given. This means that you are allowed to keep the functional inherited weapon as it is.
For which weapons is a weapon possession card required?
The types of weapons for which you need a weapons possession card is categorically limited by law:
- semi-automatic short and long guns,
- single-loaders and repeaters (as short and long guns)
- shotguns and
- Compressed air weapons with more than 7.5 joules.
Keep in mind, there are three different gun ownership cards in Germany. The green version is a kind of standard card, on which you can generally register weapons that require a permit. After a pre-registration by the responsible authority you should acquire the weapon within one year - otherwise the registration expires and you have to apply for the weapon again. Hunters receive the green variant when they apply for a weapon possession card.
The yellow card is intended purely for sport shooters and applies only to certain weapons. You can acquire the following weapons with it:
- single-shot rifles (rifled and smoothbore)
- multi-shot repeating long guns (rifled),
- single-shot short-barreled weapons (for cartridge ammunition, single-barreled) and
- percussion weapons (centerfire)
- as well as the corresponding ammunition.
If a sport shooter wishes to acquire another weapon that is subject to acquisition and is not mentioned in the list of the yellow WBK, he must acquire a green WBK with a preliminary entry. This includes, for example, semi-automatic pistols, semi-automatic long guns or repeating shotguns.
The red WBK is intended for experts and gun collectors. Firearms of a certain type of construction or function, of a certain collecting area or - in rare cases - for firearms of all types are registered on these.
Attention: With a WBK one may acquire the respective weapons, however, not lead. A hunter may carry his hunting weapons in his hunting ground, the same applies to him and sport shooters on the shooting range. However, if you want to carry a weapon in public, you need a gun license, in which this weapon is noted. It is important to note here that the firearms license does not entitle the holder to acquire other weapons. In addition, ammunition may not be purchased with the firearms license.
Do I have to disable all inherited weapons?
Provided that you yourself can show authorization to own firearms in working order, a blocking device is not necessary. However, if you decide to process your inherited weapons accordingly, you should expect to incur costs. In addition, the state of inoperability must be proven to your competent authority. The same applies to types of ammunition that require a permit. Either you hand them over to an authorized person or their danger potential is reduced.
What are weapons requiring a permit?
"Permit-required" means that you need a special official permit to be allowed to possess certain weapons. This includes all weapons for which you need either a hunting license or a weapons possession card. Depending on the weapon, the respective permit entitles you to purchase, possess, transport, use for sporting purposes at the shooting range or even to carry. However, if you do not have a permit for just one of your weapons, you are legally an illegal gun owner.
Can I sell the weapons as an heir?
As an heir, you are the legal owner of the inherited weapons, regardless of whether they are in working order or have been rendered useless. Basically, you can and are allowed to sell all inherited weapons and even entire collections of weapons. A review of the objects and a cleaning increase the value and often collectors decide to sell a whole assortment right away. If you only want to sell individual weapons and do not want to part with all heirlooms, you should think carefully about which ones should leave your home. Heirloom weapons can have a higher value depending on their age.
Whether you want to sell an heirloom gun privately or take it to a dealer and leave the rest of the gun sale to experts is irrelevant from a legal point of view - as long as the general conditions regarding the transfer of firearms are adhered to. If you want to avoid the hassle, it is more advisable to buy through a dealer or gun recycler. Alternatives would be action houses or an online platform like us, which explicitly allows firearms sales.
However, be careful if you want to import / export inherited weapons. Here, many domestic and foreign conditions collide, where an advice - or the general handling via dealers - simplify the procedure significantly.
How is the shipment of heirloom weapons handled?
The shipment of weapons is possible in Germany, but may only be carried out by specially authorized weapons transport companies. The transport companies must also have the appropriate reliability to be allowed to handle such equipment. They have to fulfill the same requirements as you or other sellers: ensuring that the purchaser of the weapon is allowed to possess it.
In addition, if the accompanying ammunition is also to be shipped, this shipment must be separate from the firearms. Some sellers generally prohibit the shipment of ammunition. The disadvantage: If shipping is desired, this can only be done through a dealer who cooperates with such companies. As a private person, it is not possible to commission such carriers - here you are forced to hang on the personal delivery, which in turn means more effort and more risk for you in terms of control and legal compliance.