Overview of gun laws by nation

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Gun laws and policies (collectively referred to as firearms regulation or gun control) regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification and use of small arms by civilians. Many countries have restrictive firearm policies, while a few have permissive ones.[1][2] The only countries with permissive gun legislation are: Albania, Austria, Chad, Republic of Congo, Honduras, Micronesia, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland [3], Tanzania, the United States, Yemen and Zambia, although several other countries like Canada and the Czech Republic, despite theoretically being restrictive, are shall-issue countries. Countries with a strong gun culture may afford civilians a right to keep and bear arms, and have more-liberal gun laws than neighboring jurisdictions. Countries which regulate access to firearms will typically restrict access to certain categories of firearms and then restrict the categories of persons who may be granted a license for access to such firearms. There may be separate licenses for hunting, sport shooting (a.k.a. target shooting), self-defense, collecting, and concealed carry, with different sets of requirements, permissions, and responsibilities.

Gun laws are often enacted with the intention of reducing the use of small arms in criminal activity, specifying weapons perceived as being capable of inflicting the greatest damage and those most-easily concealed (such as handguns and other short-barreled weapons). Persons restricted from legal access to firearms may include those below a certain age or having a criminal record. Firearm licenses may be denied to those felt most at risk of harming themselves or others, such as persons with a history of domestic violence, alcoholism or substance abuse, mental illness, depression or attempted suicide. Those applying for a firearm license may have to demonstrate competence by completing a gun-safety course and show provision for a secure location to store weapons.

Guns laws are considered permissive in countries where the authorities will provide a firearm license on a shall issue basis to ordinary citizens who meet the legal requirements. Guns laws are restrictive when licenses are provided on a may issue basis, at the discretion of the regulating authority, often requiring the applicant to demonstrate a reason why they need a firearm. Gun laws are considered strict when it is difficult or impossible for an ordinary citizen to obtain a firearm through legal means.

The legislation which restricts small arms may also restrict other weapons, such as explosives, crossbows, swords, electroshock weapons, air guns, and pepper spray. It may also restrict firearm accessories, notably high-capacity magazines and sound suppressors. There may be restrictions on the quantity or types of ammunition purchased, with certain types prohibited. Due to the global scope of this article, detailed coverage cannot be provided on all these matters; the article will instead attempt to briefly summarize each country's weapon laws in regard to small arms use and ownership by civilians.


The Bamako Declaration on an African Common Position on the Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons was adopted in Bamako, Mali, on 1 December 2000 by the representatives of the 51 member states of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).[4] The provisions of this declaration recommend that the signatories would establish the illegal possession of small arms and light weapons as a criminal offence under national law in their respective countries.[5]


Gun law in Kenya is specified in the Firearms Act (Cap. 114) Laws of Kenya.[6] The Chief Licensing Officer (CLO) has discretion to award, deny, or revoke firearms licenses. Applicants must be 21 years of age or older, pass a stringent background check for criminal activity, mental health and domestic violence, and state genuine reason(s) for their need to privately own and carry a firearm. Checks are regularly repeated, with failure to pass resulting in immediate revocation of the license. Once licensed to own a gun, no additional permit is required to carry a concealed firearm.

South Africa[edit]

To apply for a firearm license in South Africa applicants must pass a competency test covering the specific type of firearm you are applying a license for and a test on the South African firearm laws. Once these tests are passed you need to apply for a competency certificate, where the South African Police Service will perform a background check and an inspection of the premises where the firearm will be stored. After both the tests are passed and the certificates are awarded you can apply for a firearm license in the categories ranging from self-defence to professional hunting. Different license categories have different restrictions, for example the amount of ammunition that the owner may hold.[7]



Firearms in Argentina are restricted, and regulated by ANMaC (Agencia Nacional de Materiales Controlados) since late October, 2015 when said agency replaced RENAR (Registro Nacional de Armas de la Republica Argentina), both being a branch of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. To own a firearm in Argentina, one must be a legitimate user. Applicants must: be 21 years of age or older, provide a medical certificate that certifies they are physically and mentally fit, complete a safety course, provide a legitimate means of income, undergo and pass a background check. A successful applicant is fingerprinted and issued a license which has to be renewed every five years. One may not legally fire a firearm in Argentina if they are not a legitimate user, even if that gun belongs to someone else. Once a legitimate user wants to purchase a firearm, they must provide a secure location to store the firearm(s), and give an acceptable reason for wanting a firearm – such as collecting, target shooting, hunting, business, or self-defense in the home.[8]

Firearms must be purchased through a licensed dealer and registered with ANMaC. If a firearm is inherited, a re-registering form must be filed. There is no limit on the number of firearms owned so long as they are properly stored. Ammunition sales are recorded but unlimited.[9]

Carry permits for licensed handgun owners are extremely difficult to obtain, and require appearing before the ANMaC board to make their case. Carry permits are renewed yearly to re-examine their "clear and present" danger, and the permit is usually revoked immediately if this danger is removed. Those dealing in money or valuables or in private security may be issued a business carry permit.[10]

Handguns above .32 calibre are conditional-use; fully automatic handguns are prohibited to civilians. Bolt-action rifles above .22 Long Rifle and semi-automatic rifles above .22 Long Rifle with a non-detachable magazine are conditional-use; fully automatic rifles and semi-automatic rifles above .22 Long Rifle with detachable magazines are prohibited. Semi-automatic shotguns and shotguns with barrels between 380 and 600 mm (15 and 24 in) long are conditional use; fully automatic shotguns and shotguns with barrels under 380 mm (15 in) are prohibited.[11][clarification needed]


All firearms in Brazil are required to be registered. The minimum age for ownership is 25,[12] and certificates of aptitude and mental health are required prior to the acquisition of a firearm and every three years thereafter.[13] It is generally illegal to carry a firearm outside a residence.[14] Executive Order No. 5.123, of 1 July 2004[15] allows the Federal Police to confiscate firearms which are not possessed for a valid reason; self-defense is not considered a valid argument.[16]

The total number of firearms in Brazil is thought to be between 14 million and 17 million[14][17] with an estimated 9 million being unregistered.[12] In a 2005 referendum, Brazilians voted against a government proposal for a total ban on the sales of firearms to private citizens.[12]


Canada's firearm laws are stated in the Firearms Act. The possession and acquisition license (PAL) is distributed by the RCMP (federal police) and requires taking a firearms safety course and passing a test, a background check, and reference interviews. The PAL allows purchase of most popular sporting rifles and shotguns. A Restricted-PAL (RPAL) has an additional course for restricted weapons, which have increased storage requirements.[18] The two main reasons for owning firearms are target shooting and hunting. Carrying firearms for self-defense against human threats is prohibited, but a "wilderness carry permit" can be obtained for protection against wild animals.[19]

There is an authorization to transport (ATT) requirement for restricted and prohibited weapons, which must be registered. Non-citizens may obtain a non-resident firearms declaration from a customs officer, for a temporary 60-day authorization to bring a non-prohibited firearm into Canada.[18]

In Canada, firearms fall into one of three categories:[20]

  1. Non-Restricted: Long guns with an overall length greater than 26 inches (660 mm) and semi-automatics with a barrel longer than 18.5 inches (470 mm). These can be possessed with an ordinary PAL, and are the only class of firearms which can be used for hunting.
  2. Restricted: This includes handguns with barrel lengths greater than 4.1 inches (105 mm), and long guns which do not meet the length requirements for non-restricted but are not prohibited. These guns require ATTs, so can only be discharged at ranges.
  3. Prohibited: These weapons generally cannot be possessed by civilians, and include fully automatic weapons and many military arms, and handguns with barrel length equal to or shorter than 4.1 inches (105 mm), and those chambered for .25 and .32 cartridges. Normally, the only way to possess these is by being grandfathered in or through inheritance. Most magazines for semi-automatic long guns capable of holding more than 5 centerfire cartridges or 10 rounds for handguns are prohibited.


In Chile, the 92nd article of the Constitution declares gun ownership as a privilege granted in accordance to a special law. Firearms are regulated by the police. Civilian gun ownership is allowed by law but discouraged by authorities, with regular press statements and campaigns denouncing the dangers of private firearms.

Police-issued firearm permits require applicants to be 18 years of age, provide a mental health certificate issued by a psychiatrist, have a clean criminal record with no domestic violence accusations, and pass a written test on firearm safety and knowledge. Final approval is in the hands of the police commander of the district, who can deny the permit in "justified cases" not detailed in the letter of the law. There are five types of permits:

  • A defense permit allows ownership of 2 firearms which must remain at the declared address.
  • A hunting permit requires a hunting license, and allows for up to 6 firearms.
  • A sporting permit requires membership in a registered gun club, and allows up to 6 firearms. It is possible for those under 18 years of age to obtain this permit.
  • A collection permit allows an unlimited number of firearms to be owned, but does not allow the holder to possess ammunition. Collectors must have special security measures which are reviewed by police.

Each of these has limits on type of firearm, and allows for a police-issued permit to buy a specified quantity of appropriate ammunition from a specific gun shop. Transport permits are required to take firearms from the permit-holder's residence to a specified shooting range or hunting ground, and are valid for two years. Transported firearms must be unloaded and not attached to the body.

A self-defense permit allows carrying a firearm for protection against specific human threats. Such permits are valid for one year, but as the police commander can deny applications without stating a reason, they are very rarely issued. Automatic firearms are forbidden for civilian use.


Gun laws in Honduras are stated in the Act on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Material of 2000.[21] In April 2002, the National Arms Registry was formed, requiring all citizens to register their firearms with the Ministry of Defense.[22]

In 2003, a ban on certain assault rifles was passed, restricting citizens from possessing military-style rifles such as the AK-47 and the M-16.[23] In 2007, an additional decree suspended the right to openly carry a firearm in public, and limited the number of firearms possessed per person.[24]


Gun laws in Jamaica are stated in the Firearms Act and regulated by the Firearms Licensing Authority.[25] Applicants must pass a police background check and complete a certification process to obtain a firearms license for shotguns, handguns and rifles. Shotguns and rifles for hunting or sport-shooting purposes are easier to obtain than handguns. Fully automatic weapons are prohibited. Handguns are limited to those under .45 calibre for revolvers or 10 mm for pistols. Ammunition purchases are limited to 250 rounds per year for shotguns and 50 for handguns, with applications for additional ammunition generally granted during the hunting season. A gun safe is required for storage of all firearms and ammunition.[26] Once licensed, no additional permit is required to carry a firearm open or concealed, unless the carrying of firearms has been temporarily prohibited under section 22 of the Act.[27]


Under the Mexican Constitution, citizens and legal residents have the right to own arms, but may only carry them in accordance with police regulation.[28] Applicants must have a clear criminal record and proven income and residence (i.e.: cannot be homeless).[29] New firearms are purchased through the Ministry of Defense. Prohibited weapons include: large-calibre handguns; shotguns with barrels shorter than 25 inches (640 mm) or bore greater than 12 gauge; and rifles which are fully automatic or of large calibre. One handgun is permitted for home defense. For hunting and sport shooting, up to nine long guns and one handgun is permitted, requiring membership in a hunting or shooting club. Collectors may be authorized to possess additional and prohibited weapons.[30] A carry license may be issued to those employed by private security firms, or those who may be targets of crime.


Obtaining firearms in Panama requires a Firearms Possession Certificate, which requires a lengthy background check and training. The minimum age to own a firearm is 18 years. A separate permit that allows carrying of a concealed firearm, with all the same requirements, is available to those aged 21 and over.[31] Certain kinds of firearms and ammunition, such as automatic firearms, long guns whose barrels have been shortened, or armor-piercing rounds, are prohibited even for licensed gun owners.

United States[edit]

In the United States, gun laws are found in a number of federal statutes, enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The right to keep and bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution,[32] and most state constitutions also guarantee this right. There is some variance across the country as both federal and state laws apply to firearm possession and ownership.

Persons are generally prohibited from purchasing a firearm if:[33]

  • they have been convicted of a felony, or any other crime for which they could have been sentenced to more than a year in prison, or are under indictment for such
  • they are a fugitive from justice
  • they have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
  • they are an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any illegal controlled substance
  • they have been adjudicated mentally defective
  • they have been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions
  • they have renounced their United States citizenship

The carrying of weapons, either openly or concealed, is regulated by the states, and these laws have changed rapidly over the past decade. As of 2016, most states grant licenses to carry handguns on a shall-issue basis to qualified applicants. A few states leave the issuance of carry permits to the discretion of issuing authorities (called may-issue), while eleven states allow the carrying of firearms in a concealed manner without a permit (called Constitutional carry). Twenty-six states allow for open carrying of handguns without a permit while, in general, twenty states require a permit to do so and four states plus Washington D.C. ban open-carry of handguns. There have been legal challenges to concealed-carry laws, with different rulings to their constitutional validity.


People's Republic of China (PRC)[edit]

Gun ownership in the People's Republic of China (PRC) is strictly regulated by law. Generally, private citizens are not allowed to possess guns. Civilian ownership of guns is largely restricted to authorized, non-individual entities, including sporting organizations, authorized hunting reserves, and wildlife protection, management and research organizations. The chief exception to the general ban on individual firearm ownership is for the purpose of hunting.[34][35] Illegal possession or sale of firearms may result in a minimum punishment of three years in prison,[36] and penalties for arms trafficking include life imprisonment.

Hong Kong and Macau[edit]

In Hong Kong and Macau, gun ownership is tightly controlled and possession is mainly in the hands of law enforcement, military, and private security firms (providing protection for jewelers and banks). Under Section 13 of Cap 238 Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance of the Hong Kong law, a license is required for unrestricted firearms and ammunition.[37] A license may be issued after a rigorous process to check for criminal records or a history of mental illness. License holders may store other firearms at home in a locked box, but ammunition must be kept at a different premises.[38] Only fully automatic firearms appear prohibited; those found in possession without a license could be fined HKD$100,000 and face imprisonment for up to 14 years.

East Timor[edit]

Under East Timorese law, only the military and police forces may possess, carry and use firearms.

In late June 2008, the Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmão, introduced a proposed gun law to Parliament for "urgent debate", pushing back scheduled budgetary discussions. The new law, which would allow civilians to own guns, sparked heated debates in the East Timorese parliament. The United Nations, which has a peacekeeping force deployed in the nation, also expressed concerns over the new law.[39][needs update]


Guns in India are strictly regulated by law. The Arms Act, 1959 and the Arms Rules 1962 prohibit the sale, manufacture, possession, acquisition, import, export, and transport of firearms and ammunition unless under a license, which is difficult to obtain. The Indian Government has a monopoly over the production and sale of firearms, with the exception of some breech-loading smooth-bore shotguns, of which a limited number may be produced and imported.[40] The Arms Act classifies firearms into two categories: Prohibited Bore (PB) and Non-Prohibited Bore (NPB), where all semi-automatic and fully automatic firearms fall under the Prohibited Bore category. The Arms Act of 1962 added to the PB category any firearm which can chamber and fire ammunition of the caliber .303, 7.62 mm, .410, .380, .455, .45 rimless, or 9 mm. Smooth-bore guns having barrels shorter than 20 in (510 mm) are also specified as PB guns.[41]

Licenses for acquisition and possession of both PB and NPB firearms could be given by a state government or district magistrate before 1987. From that year, the issuing of licenses for PB firearms became the responsibility of the central government. Licenses are valid for three years and may be renewed. The sale of firearms requires both parties to possess the permit.[42]

The criteria considered during the issue of NPB firearm permits are whether the applicant faces a threat to their life. PB firearms criteria are more stringent, often for persons in government positions who face immediate danger or threats, those whose occupation involves open threats and danger, and family members of such people. PB licenses became more regulated in 2014, when otherwise-eligible persons were frequently rejected on basis of national security grounds.[43][44][45][46][47][48][49] Exceptions are made for defense officers who are allowed to keep firearms without licenses under the Defence Service rule, and a handful of professional shooters.[42]

The most common household firearm is a double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun (known as DBBL 12 Bore). Other common firearms are .315 bolt-action rifles (magazine capacity of 5 cartridges) and .32 revolvers (capacity of 6 cartridges).[50][relevant? ]


Indonesia has generally strict gun laws. Licenses are normally only issued to civilians employed in a profession that involves firearms such as military and law enforcement, with an exception for politicians and businessmen.

Applicants must be a minimum age of 21 years to obtain a firearms license, and go through a very thorough background check and mental evaluation. They must also state a genuine reason for wanting to own a firearm, which would include hunting, target shooting, collecting, security, and self-defense. All firearms must be registered. Gun permits are valid for five years and may be renewed.[51]

Civilians cannot possess military weapons, but may possess long rifles. Handguns can only be used for sport-shooting and hunting. In 2012 however, it is claimed that the police had been issuing permits to regular citizens.[52]


Gun laws in Israel are comprehensive despite soldiers being allowed to carry their service weapons on or off duty. Civilians must obtain a firearms license to lawfully acquire, possess, sell or transfer firearms and ammunition. In 2018, Israel significantly loosened firearms restrictions, allowing all citizens who had undergone combat training as a combat soldier in the army, to apply for a license. This only applies to those who have passed infantry rifle training.[53]

Prior to 2018, when laws were changed to allow all former combat soldiers to apply for a license, only a small group of people had been eligible for firearms licenses: certain retired military personnel, police officers or prison guards; residents of settlements (in the West Bank and the Golan Heights) or those who often work in such towns; and licensed hunters and animal-control officers. Age requirements vary: 20 or 21 for those who completed military service or civil service equivalent, 27 otherwise, and 45 for non-citizens. Firearm license applicants must have been a resident of Israel for at least three consecutive years, pass a background check (criminal, health, and mental history), establish a genuine reason for possessing a firearm (such as self-defense, hunting, or sport), and pass a weapons-training course.[54] Around 40% of applications for firearms permits were rejected.[55]

Those holding firearms licenses must renew them and pass a shooting course every three years, and undergo psychological assessment at least once every six years. Security guards must pass these tests to renew their license to carry firearms belonging to their employers.[56] Applicants must demonstrate that they have a safe at their residence in which to keep the firearm. Permits are given only for personal use, and holders for self-defense purposes may own only one handgun and purchase an annual supply of 50 cartridges (although more may be purchased to replace rounds used at a firing range).[57]

In addition to private licenses of firearms, organizations can issue carry-licenses to their members or employees for activity related to that organization (e.g. security companies, shooting clubs, other workplaces). Members of officially recognized shooting clubs (e.g.: practical shooting, Olympic shooting) are eligible for personal licenses allowing them to possess additional firearms (small bore rifles, handguns, air rifles and air pistols) and ammunition after demonstrating a need and fulfilling minimum membership time and activity requirements. Unlicensed individuals who want to engage in practice shooting are allowed supervised use of handguns at firing ranges.

Most individuals who are licensed to possess handguns may carry them loaded in public, concealed or openly.[54]

In 2005, there were 237,000 private citizens and 154,000 security guards licensed to carry firearms. Another 34,000 Israelis own guns illegally due to their failure to renew their firearms license.[58][59] In 2007, there were estimated to be 500,000 licensed small arms held by civilians, in addition to 1,757,500 by the military, and 26,040 by the police.[60][61]


The weapons law of Japan begins by stating "No one shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords", and very few exceptions are allowed.[62] Citizens are permitted to possess firearms for hunting and sport shooting, but only after submitting to a lengthy licensing procedure.[63] After ten years of shotgun ownership, a license-holder may apply to obtain a rifle.


Kuwait has strict firearms laws. Firearms may be licensed to a citizen (or foreigner recommended by the Minister of Interior) who is at least 25 years old and fully capable of handling a weapon, with no criminal record, who is not a suspect or under police surveillance, and who has a source of income.[64] Hunting shotguns are the most commonly licensed weapons. Rifles chambered for .22 long rifle are also common, with hunting and sniper rifles more difficult to obtain. Handguns are only allowed for VIPs. Automatic rifles and machine guns are not legally permitted for civilian possession.


In the Lebanese Republic, ownership of any firearm other than handguns, hunting arms and antiques is illegal and only the latter two are permitted to leave the owner's home, making Lebanon one of the most gun-controlled nations in the Middle East. Disregard for this law, however, is prevalent. Lebanon does not officially grant the right to bear arms, but it is a firmly held cultural belief in the country. Firearms licenses are granted to certain individuals, but the test is not open to the public and requires a particular need to be demonstrated.[65]

Gun control has been largely unsuccessful in Lebanon due to a historic gun culture, a lack of effective central government control or authority over many parts of the country, and the tumultuous nature of the region. Although gunsmithing was once prominent in the region, it has all but ceased since the mid-1930s, yet it remains legal with a permit. Lebanon has come to be one of the largest arms markets in the Middle East.[66]

Lebanon ranks 58th worldwide for privately owned firearms per capita.[65]


Malaysia has strict gun laws. The Arms Act (1960)[67] requires Malaysian citizens to have a license for manufacture, import, export, repair, or ownership of firearms. A firearm license can only be granted by the Chief Police Officer of a state. Discharging a firearm in crimes such as extortion, robbery, resisting arrest and house-breaking is punished by the death penalty. Exhibiting a firearm for any of the scheduled offences (without discharging) carries a penalty of life imprisonment and caning of not less than six strokes. Possession of unlawful firearms carries a sentence of up to fourteen years in prison and caning.[68] While the general public cannot obtain a gun through legal means, a black market for guns does exist.[69]

North Korea[edit]

In 2009, North Korea enacted a new law strictly regulating firearms.[70]


Pakistan has permissive firearm laws compared to the rest of South Asia, and has the sixth-highest number of privately owned guns in the world. Laws regulate the carrying of weapons in public in most urban areas. Private guns are prohibited in educational institutions, hostels, boarding and lodging houses, fairs, gatherings or processions of a political, religious, ceremonial, or sectarian character, and on the premises of courts of law or public offices.[71] The law in Pakistan does not stipulate that a gun license should be denied or revoked, and a license permits ownership of any number of weapons including handguns of any size and fully automatic weapons. Gun culture is strong among Pakistanis and a traditionally important part of rural life in its North-Western areas where it is not uncommon to see people legally carrying RPGs and assault rifles.


The Philippines has generally strict gun laws, though liberal in comparison to other Asia-Pacific countries due to its active gun culture. Philippine gun control became notorious in 1972 during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos who implemented a near-prohibition of all civilian guns. Current gun laws in the Philippines are outlined from Republic Act 10591, signed in 2013. In order to own a firearm, a citizen must acquire a Possession License. Applicants must be of a minimum age of 21 years and have no history of criminal activity or domestic violence. License-holders may carry handguns in public with the acquisition of a Permit to Carry (PTC), which are granted on a may-issue basis.[72] Applicants must demonstrate a need for a PTC, such as an imminent threat of danger; PTCs are typically granted to lawyers, accountants, media practitioners, cashiers, bank tellers, priests, ministers, rabbis, imams, physicians, nurses, or engineers.

Most Filipinos own firearms for self-protection and target-shooting, which require licenses. Despite the strict laws, gun culture is particularly strong in the Philippines, in part due to the influence of American culture.[73]


Citizens in Singapore must obtain a license to lawfully possess firearms or ammunition; applicants must provide justification for the license, such as target shooting or self-defense. Target-shooting licenses permit ownership of a gun, provided it is securely stored in an approved and protected firing range, and is not taken out of the firing range without special permission. Self-defense permits are rarely granted, unless one can justify an 'imminent threat to life that cannot be reasonably removed'. There is no restriction on types of small arms one may own after obtaining a license.[74][75][76]

South Korea[edit]

South Korea has strict gun policies. Hunting and sporting licenses are issued, but any firearm used in these circumstances must be stored at a local police station. Air rifles also have to be stored at police stations; crossbows and electric shock devices are also classified as firearms but their private retention is permitted. Tasers are prohibited, and possessing a toy gun without an orange tip is strictly prohibited. Violation of firearms law can result in a US$18,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.[77]

The majority of South Korean men are well-trained in the use of firearms, due to mandatory military service.[77] Despite this, gun culture is notably absent in South Korean society outside of the military, and gun ownership and deaths rank among the lowest in the world.[78][79]


Gun ownership in Taiwan is prohibited to ordinary citizens. There are currently more than 5,000 legal private handgun owners, of which 1,000 are used for self-defense and 4,000 are used for hunting by the Taiwanese aborigines. Gun owners in Taiwan are required to receive regular inspections every two years as well as random inspections by the police.[80]


A firearm license in Thailand is granted only for self-defense, property protection, hunting, or sporting use.[81][82] Applicants for a firearms license must be at least 20 years of age (the age of majority under the Civil and Commercial Code), have a record of good behavior, have an occupation and receive income, and have a permanent address in Thailand with a name “listed in the house registration specifically in the area where you are applying for a license, for at least six months”. A license may not be issued to anyone who is a repeat offender or mentally unstable. The application fee for most firearms licenses is 1,000 Baht for each license or unit; a license for possession and use of air rifles is 200 Baht per license/unit.; carry licenses are also 1,000 Baht per license Since October 2017 citizenship is required to purchase and use firearms.[83] A person is also not allowed to carry his gun without an additional permit for concealed carry.[84] Fully automatic firearms and explosive devices are prohibited.[85]

The amended law 2017 will cover weapon silencers, electric darts, and new types of fireworks including bang fai (locally-made rockets) and talai (“rocket-like fireworks with a circular wing”). The amendment further provides that anyone who creates a bomb scare may be subject upon conviction to up to three years of imprisonment and/or fined up to 60,000 Baht. Another significant change is that only Thais will be permitted to register a gun with the authorities. Formerly, foreigners residing in Thailand could also apply for weapons permits. The Act already prohibits the manufacture, purchase, ownership, use, ordering, or import of firearms or ammunition, except by persons who have been granted a license from the local registrar. Violation of this provision is punishable upon conviction with imprisonment for a period of between one and ten years and/or fines of between 2,000 and 20,000 Baht.[86]


Turkey is restrictive in terms of gun control statutes.[87] Automatic and semi-automatic firearms are "prohibited for civilian possession (with no or limited exceptions)", and for any application, "an applicant may be asked to produce a medical certificate confirming he or she is capable of handling firearms and that he or she has no psychological – or physical – impediments".[88] Background checks are mandatory, and a "genuine reason" is required for issue of licenses.[89]

Civilians must additionally apply through the police for a handgun carry permit or a rifle carry license (the latter also requiring a hunting license). They must have a special reason prior to application, and the carry licenses are expensive. Special professions like police officers, military personnel, judges, public prosecutors, and senior politicians have their own life-time license from the government, and can apply for free licenses for handgun and rifle carry.


Firearms in Vietnam are restricted to law enforcement and military only, with possession of firearms prohibited to ordinary civilians.[90] The chief exception to this is for hunting and sporting purposes which requires the user to undergo mandatory background checks to obtain a firearms license.



The Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Republika Srpska have relatively liberal weapon laws compared to the rest of Europe. Weapons are regulated by the Weapons and Ammunition Law.[91] People over 21 may apply for a permit. Those with a history of criminal activity, mental disorders, alcohol or drug abuse will be denied a permit. There is also a thorough background check, interviewing neighbors and family, and the applicant must complete a course and pass a multiple-choice exam. Police have the last word on the matter, with an appeal possible to a captain of police. Firearms must be kept in a "safe place" in a residence, and may be confiscated by police if the owner is found irresponsible. Concealed carry is allowed with a permit. Pepper spray may be carried by females if registered with police.


In Georgia, civilians above 18 years of age may obtain a firearm permit from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, allowing them to purchase and keep firearms for hunting and sports (pump-action shotguns, hunting rifles, carbines, combined hunting firearms), self-defense (handguns, air guns, sprays, electric tranquilizers) or collections. Permits are denied to persons who are mentally ill, drug addicts, alcoholics, and those who have criminal records.[92]


In Iceland, a license is required to own or possess firearms. A national government safety course must be passed before applying for a license. A special license is required to own a handgun, which may only be used for target shooting at a licensed range. Semi-automatic firearms have caliber restrictions, while fully automatic firearms are only permitted for collectors.


Firearms in Norway are regulated by the Firearm Weapons Act,[93] with a new secondary law in effect 1 July 2009 providing more detailed regulation.[94] A firearms license for rifles or shotguns can be issued by police to "sober and responsible" persons 18 years of age or older who document a need for the weapon. This usually require first obtaining a hunting license or sports-shooting license. For handguns, the minimum ownership age is 21. The firearms or their vital components must be stored securely in the residence, and the police may make inspections after a 48-hour notice.


Russian citizens over 18 years of age can obtain a firearms license after attending gun-safety classes and passing a federal test and background check. The license is for five years and may be renewed. Firearms may be acquired for self-defense, hunting, or sports activities. Carrying permits may be issued for hunting firearms licensed for hunting purposes. Initially, purchase is limited to long smooth-bore firearms and pneumatic weapons with a muzzle energy of up to 25 joules (18 ft⋅lbf). After five years of shotgun ownership, rifles may be purchased. Handguns are generally not allowed. Rifles and shotguns with barrels less than 500 mm (20 in) long are prohibited, as are firearms that shoot in bursts and have more than a 10-cartridge capacity. Suppressors are prohibited. An individual cannot possess more than ten guns (up to five shotguns and up to five rifles) unless they are part of a registered gun collection.[95]


Serbia has weapon laws and ranks second in guns per capita with a strong gun culture, especially in rural areas, with about one million guns in legal circulation. Weapons are regulated by Weapons and Ammunition Law (Zakon o oružju i municiji).[96]

People over age 18 may own firearms with a permit, which is denied to those with a criminal history, mental disorder, or history of alcohol or illegal substance abuse. There is a thorough background check with police having the final decision. Firearms must be stored in a "safe place", and may be confiscated by police if the owner is found irresponsible.

Rifles, shotguns and handguns may be owned with an appropriate permit, though licensing for handguns is strict. Having a permit to own a firearm does not itself allow the bearer to carry the firearm anywhere outside the home, regardless of whether it is concealed or not. The owner may transport his firearms at any time provided they are unloaded. Concealed carry permits for handguns require proving an imminent threat, with the police making the final decision. Therefore, concealed carry permit is hard to obtain. There is no limit on the number of firearms one may own, though every gun transaction is recorded by the police. There is no rifle caliber restriction (smaller than .50BMG, however). Fully automatic firearms and suppressors are prohibited for civilians. People over 18 years of age can buy and carry stun guns and electric tranquilizers with no permit needed. People over 16 can carry OC sprays.[97] There is no restriction regarding the number of rounds that may be purchased. Ammunition may be bought only for the caliber in which owned firearm is chambered. Reloading is allowed only to those who have passed an exam in handling explosive materials. Old firearms (produced before 1900), historically significant firearms, as well as black powder firearms (all category C items) may be bought without any permit.

Serbia has its own civilian gun and ammunition industry. Zastava Arms,[98] Prvi Partizan.[99] and Krušik.[100]


Gun possession in Switzerland is relatively high compared to most European countries (the rate of Swiss households containing at least one firearm was estimated at 24.45% by the 2016 figures of GunPolicy.org,[101] – lower than Germany, France, and Austria[102] – though including militia-issued firearms). The Swiss have male conscription for military service.[103] A recent referendum in 2011 on a call to force military weapons to be kept at military sites was defeated.[104] Weapons may voluntarily be kept in the local armory and there is no longer an obligation to keep the weapon at home.

The Swiss "Federal Law on Arms, Arms Accessories and Ammunitions" (WG, LArm) of 20 June 1997 has as its objectives (Article 1) to combat the wrongful use of arms, their accessories, parts and ammunition. It governs the acquisition of arms, their introduction into Swiss territory, export, storage, possession, carrying, transport, and brokerage. It regulates the manufacture and trade in arms, and seeks to prevent the wrongful carrying of ammunition and dangerous objects. Article 3 states that "The right to acquire, possess and carry arms is guaranteed in the framework of this law".[105][106]


Ukraine is the only European country without firearms statutes; regulation is by Order No. 622 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. A firearm license may be issued to citizens who meet an age requirement (21 for shotguns, 18 for shotguns for hunting purposes, and 25 for rifles), have no criminal record or history of domestic violence or mental illness and have a specific reason such as target shooting, hunting or collecting. Handguns of .22, 9 mm, .357 magnum and .38 caliber are permitted only for target shooting and those who can prove a threat against their lives (who are typically also given concealed carry permits).[107] All firearms must be stored unloaded in a safe.

Citizens wishing to purchase weapons must complete courses on the fundamentals of Ukrainian legislation on weapons, their technical design and rules for the safe handling of weapons, as well as practical shooting. The organization of relevant courses is assigned to the internal affairs bodies. In order to obtain a weapon permit, citizens submit an application in the prescribed form, a certificate of completion of relevant courses, undergo a medical examination, an inspection of the internal affairs agencies and pass a test on the fundamentals of current legislation and rules for handling weapons and their application skills.[108]

Article 263 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code says that for illegal carrying, storing and selling firearms, explosives and ammunition a person faces from 3 to 7 years in prison.[109]

Weapon permits are not issued, and issued ones are canceled if there are[110]:

  • Certificates (conclusions) of the medical institution that a person cannot own a weapon for health reasons;
  • The court’s decision to declare him incompetent, partially capable, or to lead missing;
  • Information about the systematic violations by the person of the rules of arms trafficking, public order, being registered and treated for alcoholism, use of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances without a doctor's prescription;
  • Court verdict on conviction of a person to imprisonment;
  • Outstanding or not removed in the prescribed manner of conviction for serious crimes, as well as crimes committed with the use of weapons or explosive devices;
  • Court rulings on the direction to serve deprivation of liberty, conditionally convicted with a delay in the execution of the sentence, or a court ruling on the replacement of the unmerited term of correctional labor with a sentence of imprisonment.

The list of diseases and physical defects, in the presence of which a weapon permit is not issued, is approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

Foreigners have the right to purchase civilian weapons of ammunition and ammunition for permits issued by the internal affairs bodies on the basis of petitions from diplomatic missions or consular offices of the states of which they are citizens, as well as ministries and other central executive authorities of Ukraine, subject to the export of such weapons from Ukraine later than 5 days after purchase. Foreigners who have received certificates of permanent residence in Ukraine have the right to purchase weapons in the manner established for citizens of Ukraine. Hunting and sporting weapons can be imported by foreigners into Ukraine with the appropriate permission of the internal affairs bodies and hunting agreements made with hunting farms or inviting ministries and other central executive authorities to participate in sports competitions.[111]

European Union[edit]

European Directive No. 91/477/EC sets minimum standards regarding civilian firearms acquisition and possession that EU Member States must implement into their national legal systems. The Member States are free to adopt more stringent rules, which leads to differences in the extent of legal access to firearms among EU countries.[112]


In Austria, firearms are registered by licensed dealers or gunsmiths within 6 weeks of purchase by a citizen aged 18 or over, after completing a background check. Break-action and repeating rifles and break-action shotguns can be purchased without restriction. Semi-automatic rifles and shotguns (non-pump action) require a firearm license or a concealed-carry permit, and must be stored securely. Fully automatic weapons, some military-style semi-automatic rifles, pump-action shotguns, and shotguns with barrels shorter than 45 cm (18 in) or 90 cm (35 in) overall are restricted, with licenses rarely issued.[citation needed]

Antique weapons made before 1871 require no license or registration. Ammunition sales are generally unrestricted, though a permit is required for handgun ammunition and some rifle ammunition.


The Republic of Cyprus has strict gun control. Private citizens are completely forbidden from owning handguns and rifles in any calibre, including .22 rimfire. Shotguns limited to two rounds are allowed with a license, issued by provincial police. Shotguns must be for hunting purposes, and a licensed citizen may own up to ten shotguns, typically double-barrelled. A firearm license is required to buy ammunition, of up to 250 shells per purchase, with sales recorded. Cyprus also controls airguns, and airgun owners require a license.[113]

Czech Republic[edit]

The Czech Republic is unusual in that the vast majority of gun owners (240,000 out of 300,000) possess their firearms for purposes of self-defense. Furthermore, Czech Republic has a shall-issue concealed carry permit system, whereby every self-defense license holder may carry up to two concealed firearms ready for immediate self-defense. This gives Czech Republic a higher rate of concealed carry weapons per capita than the US (by 2010 data) despite much lower gun-ownership rates.

Gun licenses may be obtained by passing a gun proficiency exam, medical examination and having a clean criminal record. Though general firearms ownership rate remains relatively low, the ability to possess and carry firearms in general is a basic freedom. This is illustrated by the Czech Republic's historical experience of firearm bans under Nazi and Communist dictatorships.

Crime with legally owned firearms is rare, with 45 recorded incidents in 2016, 17 of which were "dangerous threats" (compared to the total number of over 800,000 legally possessed firearms). Gun laws had not been an issue until the EU Directive (see above), which led to the proposal of securing Czech citizens' gun rights through adoption of a constitutional amendment that would make firearms possession in the country a national security issue, thus taking it outside the scope of EU law. However, this provision was not approved by the Senate of the Czech Parliament, and therefore didn't become law, as constitutional laws need to be approved by senate in order to pass.


Civilians in Denmark aged 16 and above can acquire gun licenses for hunting or sport shooting. This requires passing a written multiple-choice test and a practical test, after which a certified hunting license instructor determines if the applicant is suitable to own a weapon. A license is usually provided if the applicant has no or only minor marks on their criminal record.

A hunting license permits the over-the-counter-purchase and ownership of an unlimited number of shotguns of up to 12 gauge and 2-round capacity. From there, the police has to be notified of your new weapon purchase through an online form. Bolt-action rifles can also be bought over-the-counter, although they require a rifle license which is purchased through the police. The allowed calibers range from the smallest possible, all the way to .50 BMG, with .50 BMG not included. Semi-automatic rifles are allowed if the rifle is limited to 2 rounds (hunting in Denmark), or without limitation on capacity (hunting outside of Denmark). Currently, only larger calibres (.308, 6,5x55, .300wm etc.) are issued as semi-auto rifles for hunting abroad. .223/5.56x45 and similar caliber rifles are generally not approved. The hunter must pass a shotgun or rifle shooting test before being allowed to hunt.

For sport-shooting purposes, shotguns can be used as well, as can bolt-action rifles of almost any caliber (.50bmg as one of the exceptions). Sporting rifles are often chambered in 22lr and 6.5 x 55 mm. Semi-automatic rifles are not allowed for sports shooting.

Handgun: After two years of active membership in a shooting club, one can apply for a handgun permit which is then subject for background check and approval by the police, and one has to be 20 years old. Approved calibers: All calibers under 9mm (9x19, 38 Spl, 357 magnum, .32acp etc.), plus a limited number of larger calibers; .40sw, 45 ACP, 44 Spl. The max number of handguns are 6 in 22 cal. When applying for gun number 3 it requires a special permit from the department of justice. Large caliber guns, bigger than 22 cal, are restricted to a maximum of 2 in the same caliber. Meaning one can only at a given time own 2 handguns in 9 mm. However, it is at the same time legal to own additional 2 handguns in 9 mm, if they are revolvers. For all handguns, regardless of caliber, the overall length must be at least 210 millimeters (8.2677 inch), measured without orthopedic grip and removal parts.

A weapon permit for sporting purposes (both long and short firearms) has to be renewed every 5 years. Rifle permits for hunting rifles has to be renewed every 10 years. Shotguns are not on individual permits, and holders are allowed to own these as long as they have a valid hunting license – and they can keep them for up to 10 years after the hunting license expires – however they are not allowed to keep ammunition without a valid license.

Carrying a firearm in public is strictly prohibited, however, proportional self-defense is allowed. This means, that if someone is attacked with a firearm, they are legally allowed to defend yourself proportionally – e.g., with a firearm of their own.

Fully automatic weapons are prohibited for civilian use, unless a special permit is issued by the Ministry of Justice. These permits are extremely rare, and are normally only issued to people or companies working for, or supplying the Police or Military.

Illegal possession of a firearm may be punished with imprisonment of no less than one year. Civilians may keep privately owned weapons, including pistols, revolvers, shotguns and rifles at their residence.[114] These and ammunition have to be stored in an approved gun cabinet (EN1143-1 grade 0 or better).[115] The police may inspect a shooting club's weapons at their discretion, but require a court order to inspect privately held firearms.[116]


The ownership and use of firearms in Finland is regulated by the country's Firearms Act of 1998. Weapons are individually licensed by local police, with no limit on the number of licenses an individual may hold. Licenses are granted for recreational uses, exhibition or (under certain circumstances) professional use. No type of weapon is explicitly prohibited, but licenses are granted only for a reason. Self-defense is not accepted as a valid reason for acquiring a firearm license. In general, this excludes all but hunting and sports guns from non-professional use. Fully automatic weapons are generally not permitted. With the exception of law enforcement, only specially trained security guards may carry loaded weapons in public.

In November 2007, Finland updated their gun laws to comply with the EU directive by removing the ability of 15- to 18-year-olds to have their own permit, but a possibility to a have dual-license to an already licensed weapon with permission of the license holder remains in that age group. In 2011, a constitutional law committee concluded that people over the age of 20 can receive a permit for semi-automatic handguns; individuals must demonstrate continuous activity in handgun sporting for two years before they can have a license to possess their own handgun.


In France, a hunting license or a sport-shooting license is needed to purchase any firearm. In September 2015, firearms were divided into four categories that determine the regulations that apply to their possession and use.[117] Category C firearms can be obtained with a hunting license, or sport-shooting license with medical certificate. Category C includes mainly single-shot-per-barrel shotguns and single-shot or manual repeating rifles (including centre-fire rifles, for hunting or target shooting). Once legally purchased these category C arms may be kept, without using them, even when no longer licensed for hunting or sport-shooting.

Category B firearms are only available to sport-shooters licensed for at least 6 months, with a medical certificate, without any felon convictions, and additionally requires at least three shooting sessions with an instructor. Specific authorisation for purchase and possession may then be sought from local police administration, valid for 5 years renewable. Such arms may then only be used for sport-shooting at shooting ranges, never for hunting. Category B includes all assault type rifles, such as AK-47/AKM, AK-74 or AR-15/M16/M4, and any look-alike arms even when chambred for rimfire cartridges (.22 LR). Obviously these must also be semi-automatic only. All handguns, including rimfire, are classed as category B. It is illegal to possess these category B weapons after expiry of a non-renewed specific authorisation: the arms must be disposed of (sold to a gun shop or else destroyed, for example).

Air-guns including pistols are freely available to adults, as category D arms, provided that their energy level does not exceed 20 J (previously 10 J). Typical energy levels are 6 J for a target pistol and 7.5 J for a target rifle. A scoped Field Target rifle might produce 15 or 16 J (maximum authorised in FT competition). Air-soft arms, firing non-metallic pellets and not exceeding 2 J energy, are considered to be toys, rather than weapons, and so are excluded from firearm regulations.

Also freely available, in category D, are defensive pepper sprays up to a maximum of 75 g capacity. Bigger capacity sprays are considered offensive weapons, not defensive, and so are classed as category B requiring specific authorisation.

A person cannot own more than 12 centerfire firearms, and cannot own more than 10 magazines and 1,000 rounds of ammunition per firearm. A one-year carry license may be issued for persons "exposed to exceptional risks to their life" allowing to carry a handgun and a maximum of 50 rounds. Such authorizations are extremely rare however, as the state would normally insist on providing police protection in such cases. Since November 2015, police officers are authorised to carry their service arm also whilst off-duty.


Gun ownership in Germany is restrictive, regulated by the Federal Weapons Act (German: Waffengesetz) of 1972.[118] The laws apply to weapons with a fire energy exceeding 7.5 joules (5.5 ft⋅lbf). A firearms license may be granted to those over the age of 18 who have no criminal convictions or mental disability, who are deemed reliable and can prove a necessity for owning a firearm. A separate license is required for each firearm owned. Target-shooters must have been a member of a shooting club with 18 recorded visits in the previous 12 months. A firearms carry permit is a second-tier license which allows concealed carry in public, and is only issued to those with a particular need.

Several weapons and special ammunitions are completely prohibited, such as automatic firearms. Buying, possessing, lending, using, carrying, crafting, altering and trading of these weapons is illegal and punishable by up to five years imprisonment, confiscation of the weapon and a fine of up to 10,000. Using an illegal weapon for crime of any kind is punishable by from 1 to 10 years imprisonment.

Germany's National Gun Registry, introduced at the end of 2012, counted 5.5 million firearms legally owned by 1.4 million people.[119]


Greece has strict gun control. Shotguns (limited to 3-round capacity), rifles and handguns are allowed, and these require a license issued by provincial police. To purchase handguns and rifles, citizens must either have a concealed-carry permit or a target-shooting permit (for rifles). Semi auto rifles are prohibited. Hunters can own up to 10 shotguns and sport shooters can own up to 7 guns, and there is no license-check or record kept for ammunition purchases for shotguns but target shooters can only own 500 rounds per weapon.


Gun law in Hungary is relatively strict, regulated by Code 24/2004,[120] governmental decision 253/2004. (VIII. 31.) and directive of the Minister of Internal Affairs 49/2004. The laws apply to weapons with a fire energy exceeding 7.5 joules (5.5 ft⋅lbf). A firearms license may be granted to those over the age of 18 who have no criminal convictions or mental disability, who are deemed reliable and can prove a necessity for owning a firearm.Permission of the police, passing a theoretical, mental and psychological test and strong justification such as membership in a hunting or rifle club is required in order to own semi-automatic rifles, hunting rifles, shotguns or handguns. Automatic rifles are prohibited.

In 2010, there were 129,000 registered gun owners (1.3% of the population) in Hungary with 235,000 firearms. The majority of these were hunting rifles, and handguns for self-defense. Gun violence is very rare in Hungary; police use lethal weapons fewer than 10 times in a year, on average.[121]


Gun laws in Ireland are strict, requiring all firearms to be licensed individually through the Gardaí (police). Applicants must be 16 years of age and have a good reason for ownership, a secure location to store firearms, proof of competency with the firearm or arrangements to achieve such, provide access to medical records and two character references, and be of sound mind and temperate habits. Applicants convicted of certain specified offenses will be denied a firearms certificate. Personal protection is not a valid reason for ownership.

Irish firearms law is based on the Firearms Act 1925,[122] which was amended by several following acts in 1964,[123] 1968,[124] 1971,[125] 1990,[126] 1998[127] and 2000.[128] The cumulative effect of these modifications, along with modifications in other acts and confusion over which amendments applied, resulted in a 2006 Irish Law Reform Commission recommendation that all extant legislation be restated (written in a single document with all prior Acts repealed).[129] However, the Criminal Justice Act 2006,[130] contained a rewriting almost 80% of the Firearms Act. It was quickly followed by amendments in 2007[131] and further major amendments in 2009,[132] exacerbating the legislative confusion. As of 2014, the Law Reform Commission recommendation has not as yet been fully enacted; the Firearms Act consists of the initial 1925 Act amended by approximately twenty separate Acts and is well understood by only a handful of those directly involved in its drafting, amendment or usage. Extensive complaints have arisen over the application of the legislation, with several hundred judicial review cases won in the High Court and Supreme Court by firearms owners, all relating to licensing decisions which had not adhered to the Firearms Act.


In Italy, national police issue gun licenses to those over the age of 18 without criminal records, who are not mentally ill or known substance abusers, who can prove competence with firearm safety. A shooting sports license permits transporting unloaded firearms and firing them in designated shooting ranges. A hunting license allows holders to engage in hunting with firearms. A concealed carry license permits a person to carry a loaded firearm in public, and requires proving a "valid reason" to do so (e.g.: a security guard or a jeweler at risk of robbery). The number of firearms an individual may own and retain in their home is limited to three common handguns, twelve sporting handguns or long guns, an unlimited number of hunting long guns, and eight historical firearms (manufactured before 1890). These limits can be exceeded with a collector license.

Private firearms must be registered at the local police department within 72 hours of acquisition. Ammunition purchases must also be registered, and possession is normally limited to 200 rounds of handgun ammunition and 1500 rounds of hunting ammunition.


In the Netherlands, gun ownership is restricted to law enforcement, hunters, and target shooters (self-defense is not a valid reason to own firearms). A hunting license requires passing a hunters safety course. To own a gun for target shooting, the applicant must have been a member of a shooting club for a year. People with felonies, drug addictions, and mental illnesses may not possess firearms.

Once obtained, firearms must be stored in a safe and annually inspected by police. Firearms may only be used in self-defense as a matter of "equal force". Fully automatic firearms are banned, but there are otherwise few restrictions: semi-automatics, handguns, and magazines of all sizes are legal, as are all types of ammunition. A licensed gun owner may only have five firearms registered to his or her license at one time.[133]


Gun ownership in Poland is regulated by the Weapons and Munitions Act of 21 May 1999, as further amended,[134] which requires a license to own and possess firearms. However, the gun laws were relaxed in 2011 and again in 2014. Also year by year amount of permits given grows. This, in general, removed the police discretionary power to refuse a license without explanation. The current law states that target shooting and collecting permits are shall issue and self-defense one is may issue. Sport-shooting and self-defense permits allows carrying a loaded concealed firearm in public. Formerly sport-shooting permit didn't allowed carry of firearm, but was allowed by current law due to cases of shooters which were robbed on their way to or from shooting range.[135]

To obtain a firearms license, the applicant must have no criminal record, undertake a medical and psychological evaluation and pass an exam appropriate to their reason for wanting a firearm (held by the police for self-defense, the Polish Sports Shooting Association for target shooting, or the Polish Hunting Association for hunting). Permits are issued indefinitely, although self-defense ones require passing medical and psychological evaluation every 5 years.

Each permit specifies types and number of weapons the holder can own. These values vary greatly depending on license type and documented needs, but it's an established practice to receive around 5 slots for target shooting and hunting and 10 slots for collecting. A target-shooting license requires the applicant to possess a valid shooting competition license (by taking part in 2 to 4 ISSF-regulated shooting competitions per year for each category of firearm owned: handgun, rifle and shotgun). A collecting license allows obtaining and use of (in shooting range) any type of unstationary weapon including selective fire and fully automatic firearms. A self-defense license requires proving a "constant, substantial and higher than average" danger. There are separate, lifelong permits for high-ranking ex-military and police officers, generally allowing them to own one handgun. Institutional permits allow for firearm ownership by security companies.

Replicas of black powder firearms designed before 1885 require no license to own, and are therefore quite popular in the shooting community.


Gun ownership in Romania is regulated by Law 295/2004. Romania has one of the toughest gun ownership laws in the world.[136] In order for citizens to obtain a weapon, they must obtain a permit from the police, and must register their weapon once they purchase it. There are several categories of permits, with different requirements and rights, including hunting permits, self-defense permits, sports shooting permits and collectors permits. The only categories of people who are legally entitled to carry a weapon are owners of self-defense permits, magistrates, MPs, military forces and certain categories of diplomats. A psychological evaluation is required beforehand in all cases.

Furthermore, knives with a blade longer than 15 cm are considered weapons and have a similar regime to those of firearms.

In order for a hunter to obtain a hunting/gun ownership license, he must spend a certain "practice time" with a professional hunter. To obtain a self-defense permit, one must be under witness protection. Sporting and collectors licenses require membership in a sport shooting club or collectors' association, respectively.

The amount of ammunition that can be owned is regulated by permit type. Sporting permits allow the ownership of 1000 matching cartridges per gun; hunting permits allow 300 matching cartridges per gun; self-defense permits allow 50 bullet cartridges and 50 blanks per gun; Collectors permits do not allow for private ownership of ammunition.[137]

Explosive weapons and ammunitions, fully automatic weapons, weapons camouflaged in the shape of another object, armor-piercing ammunition and lethal weapons that do not fit in any category defined by the law are prohibited

The type of gun is also regulated by permit. Below is a shortened version of the table detailing the restrictions by type of lethal weapon and permit, for civilian owners. Note that for collectors, short weapons designed after 1945 are forbidden, while only non-lethal weapons are allowed for self-defense permits.[138]

It is illegal to use or carry weapons with a muzzle velocity of over 10kJ if "the barrel is fitted with devices conceived or adapted to reduce recoil"[139]

Gun type Hunting Sporting Collection
Short, center-fire weapons such as pistols and revolvers No Yes Yes
Long, semi-automatic weapons with a magazine capacity of more than 3 cartridges No Yes Yes
Long, semi-automatic weapons that retain the appearance of a fully automatic weapon Yes No Yes
Long, semi-automatic weapons with a magazine capacity of at most 3 cartridges, and which cannot be reasonably modified to hold more than 3 cartridges Yes Yes Yes
Long, smooth-bore semi-automatic and repetition weapons with a length of at most 60 cm Yes Yes Yes
Short, single-shot centerfire weapons with a length of at most 28 cm No Yes Yes
Short, rim-fire single-shot, semi-automatic and repetition weapons No Yes Yes
Single-shot center-fire rifles Yes Yes Yes
Single-shot smoothbore weapons at least 28 cm long Yes Yes Yes
Note that there are other restrictions for obtaining weapons under a sports-shooting license.
Minors (14 and older) may also use a weapon, provided that they are under the supervision of someone who has a gun license. However, they cannot own or carry one until the age of 18.[140]
The use of guns for self-defense is only allowed if the gun is a last resort option.[141]


Gun ownership in Slovakia is regulated principally by law 190/2003 (law of weapons and ammunition).[142] A firearms license may be issued to an applicant at least 21 years of age (18 years for category D if is owner of valid hunting permit, 15 years for state representative in sport-shooting), with no criminal history, and of sound health and mind, who has a valid reason for owning a gun, passes an oral exam covering aspects of gun law, safe handling, and first aid.[143]

Licenses are issued in 6 categories:

  • Category A: Concealed carry for self-defense
  • Category B: Home self-defense
  • Category C: Possession for work purposes
  • Category D: Long guns for hunting
  • Category E: Possession for sport shooting
  • Category F: Collecting

A concealed carry license is only issued if the police deem a sufficient justification. Because of that issue of this license is may-issue in practice, and vary across Slovakia by stance of individual police department issuing licence. It is kind of similar to California, some department is almost shall-issue, another need true sufficient reason (like a constant more than average threat, previous assaults on applicant, transports of money, former service in army or law enforcement, legal awareness of applicant, clientelism). Only about 2% of the adult population holds this license.[144][145][146][147]

There is an exception for non-repeating muzzle-loaded firearms, which may be purchased without a license.


Gun ownership in Slovenia is regulated under the "Weapons Law" (Zakon o orožju) which is harmonised with the directives of the EU. Gun permits are issued to applicants at least 18 years old, reliable, without criminal history and who has not been a conscientious objector, who passes a medical exam and a test on firearm safety. A specific reason must be given for gun ownership: for hunting or target shooting, the applicant must provide proof of membership in a hunting or sports shooting organization; for collection, the applicant must arrange safe storage with a level of security dependent on the type of weapons; for self-defense, the applicant must prove a risk to personal safety to such an extent that a weapon is needed.

As in most EU member states, the ownership of Category A firearms is prohibited; however these can be owned by weapon collectors, providing that requirements are met. Firearms must be stored in a locked cabinet with ammunition stored separately. Concealed carry is allowed in special circumstances. A gun permit is also required for airguns with muzzle velocity greater than 200 m/s (660 ft/s) or energy of 20 joules (15 ft⋅lbf).[148]


Firearm regulation in Spain is restrictive, enacted in Real Decreto 137/1993. A firearm license may be obtained from the Guardia Civil after passing a police background check, a physiological and medical test, and a practical and theoretical exam. Shotgun and rifle licenses must be renewed after 5 years, subject to firearm inspection. Sporting licenses must be renewed after 3 years. Police may inspect firearms at any time. A self-defense and concealed carry license must be renewed every year, and is only available under special conditions.

A license-holder may own up to 6 shotguns, and unlimited rifles. With a sporting license, valid for 3 years, 1 to 10 handguns may be owned, depending on sports-shooting level. Magazine capacity for semi-automatic centerfire rifles is limited to 4 rounds for sports shooting and 2 rounds for hunting; semi-automatic shotguns are limited to 3 rounds. Rimfire rifles, regardless of type have no magazine limit. Rifles chambered for certain cartridges with military origins are prohibited, such as .223/5.56 NATO and .50 BMG. The .308 Winchester and 7.62x39 mm (AK round) cartridges are only permitted in bolt-action, repetition or single-shot firearms. Proof of ownership of an approved safe is required for all centerfire rifles and handguns, and the owner is responsible for firearm thefts. Ammunition must be stored separately. Rifle and handgun ammunition may only be possessed for legally owned firearms, and purchases and possession is limited to 200 rounds rifle and 100 rounds for handguns. In addition, there are yearly limits in quantity (1000 for rifles,100 for handguns); however additional quantities can be petitioned, mainly for sporting use. For shotgun Ammunition, adults with a valid ID can purchase/possess up to 5,000 shells and there are no yearly limits in quantity. License-holders are only allowed to transport their unloaded firearms from their residence to the shooting range or hunting field and back, with no detours. Firearms may only be discharged at approved shooting ranges or hunting grounds (in season).

There are firearm license for private security for handguns and rifles. These cannot be used outside of work and must be stored in the workplace premises (with approved safe).

In addition there are handgun license for self-defense in concealed carry. However, this is granted on a "may issue" basis with several standards of necessity to be met and very few are granted. This license must be renewed annually and is not automatic.

Members of police forces and officers and non-commissioned officers of the armed forces have a special firearms license which encompasses all of the others. There are additional licenses for collectors and muzzle-loading firearms.[149][150][151]


Gun ownership in Sweden is regulated by Vapenlagen 1996:67 (literally, The Weapon Law),[152] modified by weapon decree Vapenförordningen 1996:70[153] and FAP 551-3 / RPSFS 2009:13.[154] The police issue licenses to persons in good standing who have passed a hunting examination or belonged to an approved shooting club for six months. License-holders are usually 18 years or older, and may lend a weapon to a person at least 15 years of age for supervised use.

A license-holder may own up to six hunting rifles, ten handguns, or a mix of eight rifles and handguns. Firearms must be stored in an approved safe. A firearm registered for sport shooting may not be used for hunting. A concealed carry permit can be obtained under very special circumstances, such as a proven threat to life.

Firearm collectors must have a clearly stated demarcation of their interest in collecting (e.g.: pre-World War II British handguns). The police may demand security measures on keeping the collection. Collectors may request a time-limited permit to discharge their weapons. Firearms manufactured before 1890 and not using sealed cartridges are exempt from the weapon law.[155]

United Kingdom[edit]

The UK increased firearm regulation through several Firearms Acts,[156] leading to an outright ban on automatic firearms and many semi-automatic firearms. Breech-loading handguns are also tightly controlled.[157] Firearm ownership usually requires a police-issued Shotgun Certificate (SGC) or Firearm Certificate (FAC). The applicant must have: no criminal convictions; no history of medical condition including alcohol and drug-related conditions; no history of depression, mental or nervous disorder, or epilepsy; and a secure gun safe to store firearms. The FAC additionally requires demonstrating a good reason for each firearm the applicant wishes to own (such as hunting, pest control, collecting, or target shooting). Self-defense is only accepted as a good reason in Northern Ireland.

An SGC allows the holder to purchase and own any number of shotguns, so long as they can be securely stored. Shotgun magazine capacity is limited to two rounds. For weapons covered under an FAC, police may restrict the type and amount of ammunition held, and where and how the firearms are used.[158] Aside from Northern Ireland, private ownership of most handguns was banned in 1997, with exception for section 5 fire-arm licenses, which are only generally issued to maritime security personnel, and those under police protection.



Gun laws in Australia are under the jurisdiction of the state governments, which collectively agreed to reforms in the 1996 National Firearms Agreement. The states issue firearms licenses for hunting, sport shooting, pest control, collecting and for farmers and farm workers. Licenses are prohibited for convicted offenders and those with a history of mental illness. Licenses must be renewed every 3 or 5 years (or 10 years in the Northern Territory and South Australia). Full License-holders must be 18 years of age; minor's permits allow using a firearm under adult supervision by those as young as 12 in most states.

Handguns may be obtained by primary producers (farmers) in some states, sporting (target) shooters, and certain security guards after serving a probationary six-month period with a shooting club. Restricted weapons include military weapons, semi-automatic rifles (regardless of capacity or calibre), pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns.

New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand's gun laws comprise the Arms Act of 1983,[159] Arms Amendment Act 1992,[160] and Arms Regulations 1992,[161] and focus mainly on vetting firearm owners. A firearms license may be issued by police to applicants who attend a safety lecture, pass a written test on safety and the Arms Code, and have secure storage for firearms and ammunition; the police will also interview the applicant and two references to be certain the applicant is "fit and proper" to own a firearm. Having criminal associations, a history of domestic violence, mental instability, or alcohol or drug abuse almost always result in the application being denied. Misbehavior involving firearms commonly leads to a firearms license being revoked by police. Even when licensed, a person may only be in possession of a firearm for a particular lawful, proper and sufficient purpose,[162] for which the NZ Police policy is to exclude self-defense, however this is not written in the Arms Act or supporting regulations.[163]

Ownership of certain types of firearms require stricter vetting procedures, a higher level of storage security, and a "special reason" for obtaining the weapon. The applicant must gain an appropriate endorsement on their license and a permit to procure before obtaining handguns, machine guns, selective-fire assault rifles, and military-style semi-automatics (MSSAs) (including those with magazine capacity of more than 15 rounds of rimfire or 7 rounds of centerfire).


Private citizens Personal protection Open carry Concealed carry Carry without permit Fully automatic firearms Unlimited magazine Free of checks Free of registration Max penalty (years)
Argentina[9] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Yes May issue – specific reason needed No No Yes 3 years; 6 for prohibited weapons[164]
Australia[165] Yes – shall issue, must have a specific reason No No No No No No Besides South Australia No No up to life imprisonment
Austria (EU)[166] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No May issue – restricted[167] No No 2[168]
Bosnia and Herzegovina[91] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No
Brazil[169] Yes – may issue May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No[170] No[170] No No[170] No[170] 3 years; 6 for prohibited weapons[171]
Canada[172] Yes – shall issue May issue – restricted No May issue – restricted No No (apart pre-1976)[172] Magazines designed for semi-automatic centerfire rifles must be limited to 5 rounds (with specific exemptions), and magazines designed for pistols limited to 10. No limits (with certain exceptions) for magazines designed for manual action (pump, lever, bolt action) long guns and semi-automatic rimfire rifles without pistol variants No non-restricted only 10[173]
Chile Yes – may issue May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No No 10[174]
China[175] May issue – restricted[176] No No No No No No No 7[177]
Private citizens Personal protection Open carry Concealed carry Carry without permit Fully automatic firearms Unlimited magazine Free of checks Free of registration Max penalty (years)
Cyprus (EU)[178] Yes – shotguns only Yes – shotguns only May issue – restricted[179] No No No[178] No[178] No[178]
Czech Republic (EU) Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Professionals only[180] Yes – shall issue No - Except for blank firing guns and 2 shot handguns with caplock mechanism [181] May issue – restricted[182] Yes No No 2 (8 in special cases) [183]
Denmark (EU) Yes – may issue No No No No No Short firearms unlimited. Bolt-action rifles unlimited. Semiauto rifles restricted to 2 rounds. No Only shotguns pre 2001 1 (minimum)
East Timor[citation needed] Yes Yes No No No No No 1
Egypt[184] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Certain officials, military and police personnel No up to life imprisonment
Estonia (EU)[185][186] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No Yes – shall issue
(no bullet in chamber – except revolvers)
No Yes[citation needed] – shall issue (collection purposes) No No 3
Finland (EU)[187] Yes – shall issue[188] No No No No May issue – restricted[167] No No 2[173]
France (EU)[189] Yes – shall issue May issue – restricted No May issue – restricted No No No No No 7
Germany (EU)[190] Yes – may issue[191] May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No No Yes No No 10[190]
Honduras[192] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No No No No No No 10[193]
Hungary (EU)[194] Yes May issue – restricted Professionals only[195] May issue – restricted No No No No 8[196]
India May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No No No
Indonesia[197][198] May issue – restricted[199] May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No No No No 20 or death[200]
Private citizens Personal protection Open carry Concealed carry Carry without permit Fully automatic firearms Unlimited magazine Free of checks Free of registration Max penalty (years)
Iraq Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Yes[201] No[202] No[202]
Iran[citation needed] May issue – restricted No No No
Ireland (EU) Yes – may issue No No No No
Israel[203] Yes – may issue May issue – specific reason needed May issue – specific reason needed May issue – specific reason needed No No No No 10
Italy (EU)[204] Yes – shall issue Yes No May issue – restricted No No Yes No No
Jamaica[205][206][207][208] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No
Japan[209][210] May issue – restricted No No No No No No No 15[173]
Kenya[211] Yes – may issue[212] No Automatic in case of legal possession Automatic in case of legal possession No No No 15[173]
Kuwait Yes – may issue May issue – restricted No No No
Lebanon May issue – restricted No No
Malaysia May issue – restricted No 14
Mexico[213] Yes Yes May issue – specific reason needed May issue – specific reason needed No No No No 7[173]
Netherlands (EU)[214] Yes – may issue No No No No No No No 1[215]
New Zealand[216] Yes – may issue No No No No Yes – may issue Semi-automatic rifles and shotguns that have a magazine that holds more than 7 rounds (15 rounds for rimfire) or detachable magazines that appears to hold more than 10 rounds (15 rounds for rimfire) are classified as Military-Style Semi-Automatics, and thus need a Category E license to own/acquire. No Registration of certain firearm types 2[173]
Private citizens Personal protection Open carry Concealed carry Carry without permit Fully automatic firearms Unlimited magazine Free of checks Free of registration Max penalty (years)
North Korea No[217] No[217] No[217] No[217] No[217] No[217] No[217] No[217] 20 or death
Norway[218] Yes May issue – restricted No No No May issue – restricted No No 3 months[219]
Pakistan[citation needed] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Maybe – in rural areas Privately owned fully automatic firearms were banned in January 2018, previously legal to own under license. Yes No No 7[173]
Philippines Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No
Poland (EU)[citation needed] Yes – shall issue May issue – specific reason needed No – professionals only Automatic for self-defense and target shooting permits holders Cartridgeless black powder guns[220][221] Shall issue – (collection purposes) Yes Cartridgeless black powder guns Cartridgeless black powder guns 8
Romania (EU) Yes – may issue May issue – restricted No – professionals only May issue – restricted No No No No No 5[222]
Russia[223] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No No No 8
American Samoa Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No No No No No No
Serbia[224] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No – professionals only May issue – specific reason needed No No No No 5[173]
Singapore May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No May issue – restricted No No 14
Slovakia (EU)[225] Yes – shall issue[226] Yes - shall issue [227] No May issue – specific reason needed[227] No May issue - restricted [228] May issue – restricted No
Slovenia Yes – may issue Yes – may issue May issue – restricted No No No No
Private citizens Personal protection Open carry Concealed carry Carry without permit Fully automatic firearms Unlimited magazine Free of checks Free of registration Max penalty (years)
South Africa[229] Yes – may issue May issue – specific reason needed No Automatic in case of legal possession Automatic in case of legal possession May issue – restricted Yes No No 15[173]
South Korea[230] Yes – may issue No No No No No No No 10 [231]
Spain[149][150] Yes – May issue May issue – restricted No May issue – restricted No No No No No
Switzerland[106] Yes – shall issue Yes – may issue No May issue – restricted No May issue Yes Maybe – criminal record mandatory for most transactions Some classes of firearms, such as hunting guns (Art. 10) 5[106]
Sweden Yes – May issue May issue – restricted No May issue – restricted No Only specific model, K-pist m/45 "Swedish K" Yes No No
Taiwan May issue – restricted May issue - restricted No
Thailand[232] Yes – may issue[233] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No 10[173]
Turkey[234] Yes – may issue No No May issue – specific reason needed No No No No No 3
Ukraine[235][236] Yes – may issue No May issue – restricted No No No No 7[173]
United Kingdom (EU)[237] Yes – may issue (shall issue for shotguns) No
(May issue for Northern Ireland)
No No No No Yes (except for shotguns, which are limited to 3 rounds (2+1)) No No 5 (minimum)
United States Varies Varies Varies
Open carry in the United States
Concealed carry in the United States
Varies internally Varies
(firearms registered before 1986)
Firearm Owners Protection Act
Varies internally Varies internally Varies internally Federal Prosecution: 10 years, State Prosecution: Varies[238]
Vietnam[239] May issue – restricted No No No No No No No 7
Private citizens Personal protection Open carry Concealed carry Carry without permit Fully automatic firearms Unlimited magazine Free of checks Free of registration Max penalty (years)


Shall issue – subject to fulfillment of legal conditions, the authorities may not deny license and/or firearm(s)
May issue – the authorities have final say in whether a person may obtain a license and/or firearm(s)
May issue – Specific reason needed – a specific reason must be proven in order to obtain license, i.e. specific threat to life for concealed carry or firearms collecting for fully automatic firearm
May issue – restricted – although the law provides for possibility of obtaining necessary licenses and permits, in reality, these are rarely or almost never issued
Private citizens – it is possible for a private citizen to legally acquire a gun (usually for hunting, sport shooting and often also for collecting)
Personal protection – personal protection or self-defense is a legitimate reason to own a firearm (or citizens are not legally required to establish a genuine reason)
Open carry – a private citizen may carry a loaded firearm openly for immediate self-defense in public (for example, with a special permit)
Concealed carry – a private citizen may carry a concealed firearm for self-defense (for example, with a special permit)
Carry without permit – a private citizen may carry a loaded firearm for immediate self-defense in public without any special permit
Fully automatic firearms – fully automatic firearms are allowed for civilians (for example, with a special permit); automatic weapons don't need to be permanently disabled
Unlimited magazine – no limits on magazine capacity
Free of checks – medical or background checks are not required ("yes" means "not required")
Free of registration – firearms are not required to be registered – no "illegal possession" law ("yes" means "not required")
Max penalty – maximum penalty for simple illicit firearm possession (no intent to commit crime with firearm), years in prison

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