The first duty of government, and in fact its primary reason, is to ensure the security of its citizens. What happens when government fails at that task — and might in fact have made the situation worse? The answer can be seen in Cologne, where applications for non-lethal weapons have skyrocketed after mass sexual assaults on German women, as NBC reports today:

A spate of Hundreds of sex assaults allegedly committed mostly by North African men on New Year’s Eve in Cologne has sparked an “explosion in sales” of pepper spray and non-lethal guns, German officials and an industry chief said.

Authorities are investigating more than 670 criminal complains — almost 350 of them sexual offenses — after hundreds of women were groped and robbed by groups of men outside the main railway station in the western city. …

In addition to defensive sprays, Cologne police said it had already received more than 300 applications from adults wanting to carry imitation handguns and so-called gas pistols.

This was compared to 408 licenses for these weapons issued during all of 2015, police spokeswoman Daniela Lindemann said.

Germany’s strict gun laws mean that only hunters and professional marksmen are allowed to obtain licenses for lethal arms and would-be buyers are subject to background checks.

The Telegraph also reported on the rush to prepare for self-defense, and the proximate cause of the incentives to do so:

The highest demand is for pepper spray in the wake of the New Year attacks, but gun shop owners say a growing number of customers are turning to air pistols, which are designed to resemble genuine handguns, as a deterrent. A licence to carry one in public is usually available to any adult without a criminal record.

“I think it’s good if you can defend yourself,” a customer who gave his name only as Daniel P told the Rheinische Post newspaper. He had just bought a pepper spray for his girlfriend and an air pistol for himself.

“The rush started as soon as I reopened on Jan 5,” said Ulrich Schmidt, a Cologne dealer. “The customers are men and women, young and old.”

Meanwhile, the Bavarian town of Landshut sent 31 refugees 350 miles by bus to Mrs Merkel’s office in Berlin after the local mayor said the town could not take in any more people.

“If Germany takes a million refugees, that works out at 1,800 for my district. That’s all I’m taking. Any more I’ll send on by bus to the chancellery in Berlin,” Peter Dreier said last October.

When government fails to protect its citizens, citizens will respond by preparing to defend themselves. When a government fails to recognize that incentive, the citizenry will respond by choosing a new government. Angela Merkel walks a dangerous line with her open-doors policy to refugees, in more ways than one.

Reuters reports today that Merkel and her party may already be on the wrong side of that line politically:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s popularity has dropped after sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve that have been blamed on migrants, and a majority of Germans now believe she is doing a poor job managing the refugee crisis, a poll showed on Friday.

The Politbarometer survey for public broadcaster ZDF was released as senior figures from the Social Democrats (SPD), her coalition partner, broke ranks and challenged her optimistic “we can do this” mantra in the face of a record influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees. …

A day after support for Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) dropped two points in a survey for public broadcaster ARD, the new poll for ZDF made for even grimmer reading. It showed 56 percent of respondents believe Merkel is doing a poor job in the refugee crisis, up from 49 percent the month before.

On a scale of +5 to -5, Merkel’s own popularity slid to 1.0 from 1.7 in December, well below the level of her foreign and finance ministers, who both came in at 2.0.

Support for her conservative bloc fell to 37 percent, its lowest level in over two years. The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) shot up to a record high of 11 percent.

Make no mistake — this may well be another example of German citizens protecting themselves after a failure of government put them at greater risk. Merkel will have no one but herself to blame if and when the bill for that failure comes due.