BERLIN -- Germany's new national firearms registry shows there are 5.5 million guns in legal circulation in the country.
That's an average of four weapons for each of the 1.4 million registered owners.
It is the first time reliable nationwide figures have been collected as previously such data were held by local authorities.
The registry provides a central national database to help police track the buyer and seller of each legally owned gun in Germany.
All European Union countries must have such a registry by 2015.
Interior Ministry spokesman Philipp Spauschus said Friday the registry would make a "concrete contribution to public safety."
Gun ownership rules in the nation of 82 million are far stricter than in the United States and firearms must be securely stored out of reach of unauthorized persons.