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Registry: Germans own 5.5 million firearms

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; 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.

FRANCE

Champagne loses fizz in Europe after tough year

PARIS — Europeans are finding fewer reasons to pop open a bottle of Champagne as another year of economic troubles and high unemployment saps the region’s appetite for the finer things.

But while the latest industry figures show that sales might be on the wane in Europe, other markets, particularly Japan and the United States, are developing a taste for a glass of bubbly.

In what is certain to be bad news for the vineyards, France — Champagne’s largest market — is drinking fewer bottles.

Sales of Champagne for the country were down 4.9 percent, and 5 percent elsewhere in the 27-country European Union, in the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011, according to CIVC, the national association of growers and producers of the wine.

Nineteen months of rising unemployment and growing fears that the worst is yet to come have taken their toll on France — nearly 7 in 10 French are worried about their country’s future, according to a recent poll.

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