SIG Sauer, long the target of disarmament campaigners in Germany, announced Thursday it intended by year’s end to close its factory at Eckernförde near Kiel, capital of Germany’s northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein.
It blamed “locational handicaps” hindering its diverse pistol and sports guns sales, claiming a “few other local producers” were preferred in government purchases for Germany’s police forces and Bundeswehr military.
Public broadcaster NDR quoted manager Tim Castagne as saying the workers’ council at the Eckernförde site, established in 1951, had been briefed about some 125 job losses as well plans to fulfil purchase orders.
“Due to its international orientation, SIG Sauer is systematically excluded from tenders [in Germany], said Castagne, intimating, said NDR, that most of its weapons were developed in the United States.
Origins in Switzerland
SIG Sauer, with interlinked ownerships, and origins going to 1864 in Switzerland, relocated within the USA in 1990, establishing at Newington, New Hampshire, an arms factory and “state-of-the-art” training academy, now with 1,200 employees.
SIG Sauer Inc.’s products include its P-series handguns for “the law enforcement market,” rifles, including sports versions, and machine guns for the US military.
On Monday, its US branch said it was “proud” to announce delivery of lightweight “Next Generation” machine guns and “greater penetration” ammunition to the US Army.
Read more: German arms exports – what you need to know
German weapons kill ‘every 14 minutes’
In April, German public broadcaster SWR reported that Kiel prosecutors were examining fresh claims that SIG Sauer’s US branch was implicated in the export of weapons to Colombia and Mexicowithout a German government export permit.
Last month, when Germany published its arms export data for 2019, opposition Left Party disarmament expert Sevim Dagdelen slammed SIG Sauer, along with Heckler Koch and Carl Walther, and federal authorities in Berlin.
“It doesn’t seem to bother the Federal Government that every 14 minutes around the world a person is killed by a German weapon,” exclaimed Dagdelen.
Three pistols focus of Hanau shooting
After the shooting massacre of nine persons in Hanau, Germany, last February, and suicide-death of the 43-year-old assailant, police reportedly found three weapons: a borrowed Ceska, his own Walther and a SIG Sauer pistol.
The German parliament’s interior committee was told that the gunman fired 52 shots and police found 350 cartridges inside his rucksack at home.
The first attack took place at a hookah bar in the downtown area and the second at a cafe about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) away in neighborhood of Kesselstadt.
Police received information about a getaway car, which they traced back to the suspect’s address. Authorities then sealed off the area while special forces launched a major search.
Police said early on Thursday morning that they had found the suspect dead in his home. Another corpse was also discovered, which was later identified as the body of his mother.
A letter claiming responsibility for the attack from the suspect was found by police. Authorities are also examining a video that the suspect posted online several days earlier in which he details a conspiracy theory about child abuse in the United States.
Federal prosecutors announced they would be taking over the investigations. A spokesperson said there were “indications of a far-right motive.”
German Attorney General Peter Frank said the video and manifesto posted by the shooter revealed “not only crazy thoughts and convoluted conspiracy theories, but also a deeply racist mentality.” He said prosecutors must now “find out, if there were any other supporters or accomplices in the Hanu attacks.”
Flowers and candles are placed near the Midnight shisha bar. Nine people have so far been confirmed dead in the attacks. Several top EU officials, including European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have publicly expressed their condolences for the victims.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a statement on the attacks on Thursday afternoon. She said it was too early to make a final assessment of the attack in Hanau, but that there were many indications that the perpetrator had right-wing and racist motives. “Racism is a poison, hate is a poison. And this poison exists in our society, ” she said.
ipj/rt (dpa, KNA)