This examiner had the unique experience of being a firearms instructor for Central Texas College-Overseas in Germany. Even with Germany’s strict gun control, compared to the United States, the classes were conducted without too many problems. As a qualified firearms instructor, the college issued each of the five instructors with ten (10) Security –Six Ruger revolvers and three (3) Winchester 18” riot 12-gauge shotguns.
The firearms class was part of the college curriculum offered at all US military education centers for military and family members toward a law enforcement college degree. It was a required course. Military members who provided documentation for qualifying with a handgun were given credit and did not have to take the firearms class. All classes were conducted on military controlled shooting ranges with approval of the post commander provided that all safety measures were in place.
Each instructor had to store the weapons in a German approved steel locker chained to an anchor and have all weapons registered by serial number with the Military Police. Each weapon had a registration card and the approved storage location had to be listed and reported. The registration forms were in three languages, English, French and German. The registration was for only one year and each year the weapons were re-registered and an administration fee paid. Registration of each firearm is the ultimate gun control.
The Rugers used were all .38 caliber and all ammunition for both shotguns and Rugers were purchased from the post Rod and Gun Club. A college lab fee charged to the students paid for 250 rounds of .38 and 10 shotgun ball. It was fun course to take and instruct with an average of 12 students per class. This examiner had an article published in a popular sports magazine about the course and the article can be viewed in the slide show.
Germany has some of the most strict gun control laws in the world. A German wanting to own a firearm for sport, or hunting, must take courses and pass written examinations. However, due to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), the military were exempt from many of the laws. Travelling with the weapons to and from ranges and the storage all local German laws applied and many interesting situations were experienced.
On one occasion, the German neighbor noticed this examiner unloading and loading the weapons for classes and contacted the police. The police arrived and checked the registration and assured the neighbor that his neighbor was not a member of the famous Bader-Manhof gang that terrorized Germany in the 1970’s.
One instructor did cause quite a stir to his German neighbors when he told one of his neighbor's children who observed him with the guns that he was a member of the CIA.
Two instructors were signing over the guns for the class at an autobahn rest stop and were spotted by a local national who notified the police. It took over four hours to release the instructors and the guns after the college dean got involved.
This examiner’s attempt to reload course ammunition in his off-post housing came to a halt when the local German authorities discovered not all laws were being followed governing the storage of gun powder in the basement. If done at on-post housing, the SOFA would have allowed it. The increasing costs of ammunition caused the college to discontinue the classes.
In the light of all the recent discussions on gun control, this class would never be allowed to continue as it did from 1976 to 1996 when it was discontinued by CTC-O. This examiner is still proud of how professionally the course was conducted and that many students profited from taking the classes. How times, and events, have changed due to a few unfortunate gun related crimes.