He was referring to the mass sexual assaults committed mainly by Arab and North African men at the Cologne cathedral square on New Year's Eve more than four years ago. Malchow was also referring to new statistics, which show that approximately 640,000 Germans now have licenses for gas pistols -- a large increase since 2014, when around 260,000 people had such a license. A gas pistol fires loud blanks or tear gas cartridges and is only potentially lethal at extremely close range.
The new statistics, according to Malchow, showed a "latent sense of insecurity" in the population. The number of real firearms owned privately also reportedly increased in 2018 -- by 27,000 over the previous year. In Germany now, 5.4 million firearms are privately owned, most of them rifles.