In a sign of what may await conservatives in both Europe and North America, the left-wing interior minister of the German state of Thuringia, Georg Maier, wants to withdraw gun licenses from Alternative for Germany members, which would effectively result in a mass weapon confiscation.
Maier, who belongs to the Social Democrat Party (SPD), has tasked his employees with establishing a working group on “Weapons and Extremists” to move forward on the issue. They plan to create the “AG WaffEx,” which would be located at the state administration office and help local authorities “in the processing of relevant cases.”
While the interior minister says that they will target “right-wing extremists,” this list also apparently includes legal members of the AfD who have never been convicted of any crime or shown any sign of participating in terror activity. The rule would, for example, target AfD members who legally own weapons as hunters or marksmen, according to German news outlet T-Online. The letter says that “appropriate revocation procedures should be initiated against these in principle.”
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As justification for the rigorous approach, Maier uses the assessment of the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution that the state association of the AfD in Thuringia is “proven to be right-wing extremist.” In much the same way that Republicans have been labeled as Nazis or “fascists” in the United States, the AfD has to contend with claims of “right-wing extremism” primarily due to its opposition to mass immigration.
The AfD, which was once the largest opposition party in the German parliament, and which still receives millions of votes, has been targeted by the German state for years. Germany’s top court has designated the entire party a “potential” threat to democracy, which means all members are already subject to draconian surveillance that allows state authorities to read their emails and listen to their phone calls without any just cause. The fact that a democratically elected party is subject to such law enforcement constraints in Germany, a country that prides itself on being an open liberal democracy, has been lost on much of the public.
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Ironically, the government’s own data shows that AfD members and politicians are the most attacked party in the country. Yet, there has never been a case of any member protecting themselves with a firearm, despite a number of serious assaults. Germans are not permitted to openly carry firearms, as in the U.S., and mostly use their weapons for target practice or hunting.
Germany’s left-wing government, which is led by SPD, has made the AfD and conservatives a special target, implementing a range of surveillance and anti-democratic methods to keep the party from growing in popularity. The latest move to ban firearms for the party’s members may not only be to target current members but also an effort to dissuade potential new members from joining the party.
AfD Thuringia is suing against this classification in the report as being for the protection of the constitution.
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AfD state spokesman Stefan Möller criticized the actions of the interior minister. He accused him of using an adapted weapons law in Germany “as a substitute criminal law against law-abiding hunters and marksmen in the AfD.”
The AfD spokesman accused Maier of continuing what he started with an “abuse of service law to destroy the existence of AfD-related officials.” Möller said the state interior minister is repressing AfD members with this method “because his SPD sees no chance in a fair political debate against AfD Thuringia.”
The AfD party is especially popular in Thuringia, where it routinely receives over 20 percent of the vote. In the last 2019 election, the party received 23.4 percent of the vote.