Overview of gun laws by nation

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Gun laws and policy vary considerably around the world. Some countries such as South Korea, Indonesia, China, United Kingdom and Germany have strict gun regulations. Other countries like Yemen, Switzerland, Czech Republic, and United States, allow for comparatively greater access.

National gun laws by country[edit]



It is illegal in Kenya to own any type of firearm without a valid gun ownership license as spelled out under the Firearms Act (Cap. 114) Laws of Kenya. Anyone who is 12 years or older can apply to privately own a gun. However, such persons must provide in writing to the Chief Licensing Officer (CLO) stating genuine reason(s) for their need to privately own and carry a firearm. It remains at the discretion of the CLO to make a decision to award, deny or revoke a gun ownership license based on the reason(s) given.

Anyone seeking to hold a gun license must pass the most stringent of background checks that probes into their past and present criminal, mental health and well as domestic violence records. Failure to pass one of these checks automatically bars one from being permitted to own a firearm. These checks are regularly repeated and must be continually passed for anyone to continue holding the gun license. Failure to pass any of these checks at any stage, means an automatic and immediate revocation of the issued license. Once licensed to own a gun, no permit is required in order to carry around a concealed firearm.

South Africa[edit]



Firearms in Argentina are regulated and enforced by the federal government. Gun ownership is allowed to the population, subject to RENAR, the branch of the ministry of justice that regulates firearm laws in the country. All prospective owners must first obtain a permit in person at a RENAR facility, which allows purchase and possession. The minimum age to apply is 18. Applicants must have a signed certificate from a medical professional that they are of sound mind and body, and provide detailed instructions of where the firearms will be kept and proof that a gun safe is owned (usually a store receipt will suffice). Applicants must also complete a RENAR approved firearm safety course and be subjected to an extensive background check that considers mental health and criminal factors. Lastly applicants must give a reason why they want the license. All the following are acceptable reasons: Collecting, Target shooting, Hunting, Business, and Self-defense in the home. If the applicant meets all the criteria, the applicant is fingerprinted and the license is issued.[1]

All firearms purchased must be through a licensed dealer and registered with RENAR. If a firearm is inherited a re-registering form must be filed. There is no limit on the amount of guns that may be owned so long as they are properly stored. The sale of ammunition is required to be recorded by the seller, though there is no restriction on the amount or the type that may be owned.[2]

Carry permits for licensed handgun owners are available, but are extremely difficult to obtain. One must file a request to a board to examine the applicants case of why they would need such a permit. Generally most ordinary citizens are denied the request. If the request is approved, they must appear before a RENAR board and make their case in person. Then the final decision will be made to accept or deny the request. If the request is accepted, the permit must be renewed yearly to re-examine their "clear and present" danger. If the danger is removed or dissipates at any time, the permit is usually revoked immediately. Those dealing in money or valuables, or work in private security may be issued a highly restricted business carry permit.[3]

Firearms in Argentina are generally categorized into three categories for rifles, handguns, and shotguns. The age to buy "civil use" firearms is 18, while the age to buy "War - Civil conditional use" firearms is 21.[4]


  • Civil use: Non-fully automatic handguns up to .32 caliber
  • War - Civil conditional use: Non-fully automatic handguns above .32 caliber
  • War - Exclusive Use for the Armed Institutions: Any fully automatic handgun


  • Civil use: Non-fully automatic rifles chambered in .22LR or lower.
  • War - Civil conditional use: 1. Non-semiautomatic rifles chambered in a caliber above .22LR. 2. Semiautomatic rifles chambered in a caliber above .22LR with a non-detachable magazine.
  • War - Exclusive Use for the Armed Institutions: Any fully automatic rifles and semiautomatic rifles chambered in a caliber above .22LR with a detachable magazine.


  • Civil use: Any non-semiautomatic shotgun with a barrel length of at least 600mm
  • War - Civil conditional use: 1. Any semiautomatic shotgun. 2. Any shotgun with a barrel length less than 600mm, but not less 380mm.
  • War - Exclusive Use for the Armed Institutions: Fully automatic shotguns and any shotgun with a barrel length less than 380mm.


All firearms in Brazil are required to be registered within the state. The minimum age for ownership is 25,[5] and it is generally illegal to carry a gun outside a residence.[6] The total number of firearms in Brazil is thought to be between 14 million and 17 million[6][7] with 9 million of those being unregistered.[5]

In 2005, a referendum was held in Brazil on the sale of firearms and ammunition to attempt to lower the number of deaths due to guns. Although the Brazilian Government, the Catholic Church, and the United Nations, among others, fought for the gun ban, the referendum failed at the polls, with 64% of the voters voting no. Accordingly, article 35 of the Disarmament Statute, which states "The sale of firearms and ammunition is prohibited in the entire national territory, except to those entities provided in article 6 of this Law.", was not enacted. No further public consultation was done in relation to other articles of that Law.[5]


The stated intent of Canadian firearms laws is to control firearms to improve public safety. Canadians have seen access to firearms become more restricted, but are still able to purchase them. Rifles and shotguns are relatively easy to obtain, while handguns are much more restricted. Licensing provisions of the Firearms Act endeavours to ensure proper training and safe storage.

Users must possess a licence, called a "possession and acquisition licence (PAL)". A firearms safety course must be passed prior to applying for a PAL. A non-resident (i.e., non-Canadian) can have a "non-resident firearms declaration" confirmed by a customs officer, which provides for a temporary 60-day authorization to have a firearm in Canada.[8] There are three categories of firearms for purposes of Canadian law: non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited. Restricted and prohibited weapons may actually be owned and used in limited circumstances.[9]

In Canada, firearms fall into one of three categories:

1. Non-Restricted: Long guns with an overall length greater than 26 inches and, if semi-automatic, a barrel which is 18 1/2 inches or longer. These can be possessed with an ordinary PAL, and are the only class of firearms which can be used for hunting, due to the ATT (Authorization to Transport) requirement for Restricted and Prohibited weapons, as well as provincial regulations. This class includes most popular sporting rifles and shotguns.
2. Restricted: This includes handguns with barrel lengths greater than 4.1 inches (105mm), and long guns which do not meet the length requirements for non-restricted, and are not prohibited. These guns require ATTs, and as such can only be shot at ranges. These arms can be possessed with an RPAL, which is similar to the PAL course, but covers restricted weapons and the increased storage requirements. One must pass the CFSC as well as the RCFSC in order to obtain their RPAL. Examples in this class include all AR-15 variants.
3. Prohibited: These weapons generally cannot be possessed by civilians. Normally, the only way to possess these is by being grandfathered in or inheriting a pistol with a barrel length at or under 4.1 inches (105mm), in which case the individual may receive the Class 7 endorsement. This class also includes prohibited devices. Many military arms fall under this classification, including all AK variants, and the FN-FAL. All handguns with a barrel length equal to or under 4.1 inches (105mm) are prohibited, as well as those chambered for the .25, and most chambered for the .32 caliber cartridge, presumably to prevent the possession of "Saturday Night Specials". Also prohibited are fully automatic weapons and suppressors. Magazines for semi automatic long guns capable of holding more than 5 centerfire cartridges or 10 rounds for handguns, are prohibited, with the exception of the M1 Garand, as well as carbines which use pistol magazines, such as the Beretta CX4 Storm.

The rate of homicide involving firearms per 100,000 population in 2009 was 0.5.[10] The rate of unintentional deaths involving firearms in 2001 was 0.08 .[11]


Gun laws in Honduras took official form under the Act on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Material of 2000, which sets limitations on what firearms and calibers are permitted and which are prohibited for civilian use.[12] In April 2002, the National Arms Registry was formed, requiring all citizens to register their firearms with the Ministry of Defense.[13]

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, among other assault rifles.[14] In 2007, an additional decree suspended the right to openly carry a firearm in public as well as limiting the amount of firearms allowed per person.[15]


Violent crime accelerated in Jamaica after handguns were heavily restricted and a special Gun Court established.[16] However, a high proportion of the illegal guns in Jamaica can be attributed to guns smuggled in from other countries. Gun ownership is allowed in Jamaica and is regulated by the Firearms Licensing Authority, http://www.firearmlicensingauthority.com. Licenses are granted for shotguns, hand guns, and rifles. Full automatic weapons are prohibited. All license applicants are required to go through a certification process, and police background checks. Shotguns and rifles for sport shooting and hunting are generally easier to obtain than hand guns. Hand gun caliber is limited to smaller than .45ca. and 10mm. Ownership of ammunition is also limited to 250 rounds a year for shotguns and 50 for hand guns. Additional ammunition can be applied for. In the case of shotguns during the hunting season, permits for additional rounds are generally issued. A gun safe is required for storage of all firearms and ammunition.[17]


Mexican citizens and legal residents may purchase new non-military firearms for self-protection or hunting only after receiving approval of a petition to the Defense Ministry, which performs extensive background checks. The allowed weapons are restricted to relatively small calibers and may only be purchased legally from the Defense Ministry.

Possession of non-military firearms is regulated by Mexican federal law. Pistols are restricted to calibres up to .380 (9mm short), including .38 Special and .38 Super. Revolvers are also allowed in calibers up to .38 special excluding .357 Magnum. Shotguns up to 12 gauge and rifles up to .30 caliber are allowed for hunting and sporting. "Military" firearms, including pistols with bores exceeding .38 caliber, and BB guns (but not pellet guns) require federal licenses and are regulated in a manner similar to that dictated by the U.S. National Firearms Act (NFA). Generally, non-military firearms may be kept at home, but a license is required to carry them outside the home. Carry licenses are granted on a May-Issue basis and typically require evidence of special need.

President Felipe Calderón has called attention to the alleged problem of the smuggling of guns from the United States into Mexico and has called for increased cooperation from the United States to stop this illegal weapons trafficking.[18][19] A 2009 GAO report is commonly cited as saying 90% of seized guns in Mexico were traced to the US. However, deeper analysis of the numbers shows that 30,000 firearms were seized, of those 7,200 were submitted to the ATF for tracing, 4,000 were traceable, and of those 3,480 came from the US.[20]

United States[edit]

The right to keep and bear arms is outlined in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Most States' constitutions also have an enumeration of the right to keep and bear arms, with most explicitly affirming that it is a right retained by each person or individual.

A person is generally prohibited from purchasing a firearm if:[21]

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

The carrying of weapons, either openly or concealed, is regulated by the states. The laws regarding carrying weapons have been changing rapidly over the past ten years. As of 2015, most states grant licenses to carry handguns on a Shall-Issue basis to qualified applicants. As few states leave the issuance of carry permits to the discretion of issuing authorities, while five states allow the carrying of firearms without a permit.

In 2008, in DC v Heller, the Supreme Court held that the right to bear arms was an individual right.[22] In 2010, in McDonald v. Chicago, the Supreme Court extended the Heller ruling to the states.[23] In 2012, in Illinois, Moore v. Madigan sought to overturn the states ban on carrying concealed weapons. The court refused to hear it, a decision which was upheld on appeal to the Seventh District Court.[24] However, the state legislature passed a bill allowing concealed weapons shortly thereafter.[25]

As of 2015, California's laws regarding concealed weapons are being challenged in court.In Peruta v. County of San Diego, the court said that the state's strict "may issue" rules were unconstitutional and greatly reduced their reach.[26] The ruling is staid pending appeal.



Gun ownership in the People's Republic of China is heavily regulated by law. Generally, private citizens are not allowed to possess guns and penalties include death.

Guns can be used by law enforcement, the military and paramilitary, and security personnel protecting property of state importance (including the arms industry, financial institutions, storage of resources, and scientific research institutions).

Civilian ownership of guns is largely restricted to authorised, non-individual entities, including sporting organisations, authorised hunting reserves and wildlife protection, management and research organizations. The chief exception to the general ban for individual gun ownership is for the purpose of hunting.[27][28]

Illegal possession or sale of firearms may result in a minimum punishment of 3 years in prison.[29]

East Timor[edit]

Under East Timorese law, only the military and police forces may legally possess, carry and use firearms. Despite these laws, East Timor has many problems with illegally armed militias, including widespread violence in 2006 which resulted in over 100,000 people being forced from their homes, as well as two separate assassination attempts on the Prime Minister and President of the country in early 2008.

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 scenes in the East Timorese parliament between the parliamentarians who support the new law and those who oppose it. The United Nations, which has a peacekeeping force deployed in the nation, also expressed concern over the new law.[30]

Hong Kong and Macau[edit]

Gun ownership in Hong Kong and Macau is tightly controlled and possession is mainly in the hands of law enforcement, military, and private security firms (providing protection for jewelers and banks). Still, possessing, manufacturing and import/exporting airsoft guns with a muzzle energy not above two joules of kinetic energy is legal to citizens in China's SARs. Under the Section 13 of Cap 238 Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance of the Hong Kong law, unrestricted firearms and ammunition requires a license,[31] and those found in possession without a license could be fined HKD$100,000 and imprisonment for up to 14 years.

A license is issued to people who aren't mentally ill or a felon after a rigorous process. Explosives and fully automatics are the only firearms that appear prohibited. Other firearms may be stored at home in a locked box, but ammunition must be kept on a different premise.[32]


The Arms Act of 1959 and the Arms Rules 1962 of India prohibits the sale, manufacture, possession, acquisition, import, export and transport of firearms and ammunition unless under a license and is a stringent process. Indian Government has monopoly over production and sale of firearms, however, Breech Loading Smooth Bore shotguns are exception to this rule, some manufacturers have been allowed to produce certain number of these.[33] 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. Any firearm which can chamber and fire ammunition of the caliber .303; 7.62mm; .410; .380; .455; .45 rimless; 9mm is specified as Prohibited Bore under The Arms Act of 1962. Smooth bore guns having barrel of less than 29" in length are also specified as Prohibited Bore guns.[34]

Before 1987, licenses for acquisition and possession of both PB and NPB firearms could be given by the state government or district magistrate but later, the issue of licenses for PB firearms became the responsibility of the central government. The license is valid of 3 years and needs to be renewed and this rule covers sale of firearms, both parties involved need to possess the permit.[35]

The criteria which are considered during the issue of NPB firearm permits are whether the person faces threat to life. These firearm licenses are strictly regulated; PB firearms criteria is even more stringent, applicable for a person, especially having a government position who faces immediate danger or threats, family members of such people and a person whose occupation by nature involves open threats and danger. Acquiring a PB license has become next to impossible as of 2014 because these are highly regulated. Persons eligible for PB licenses are also frequently rejected on basis of national security grounds.[36][37][38][39][40][41][42] Exceptions are, defense officers who are allowed to keep firearms without licenses under the Defense Service rule until they complete their service and for professional shooters.[35] The most common firearm among households is double barreled shotgun of 12 gauge (also known as DBBL 12 Bore). Other common firearms are .315 Bolt Action Rifle (magazine capacity of 5 cartridges) and .32 Smith&Wesson Long revolver (chamber capacity of 6 cartridges).[43]


In Indonesia, gun ownership can only be given to:

  • Private corporate officers in banking business, that are CEO (direktur utama) or president director (presiden direktur), members of board of directors and CFO (direktur keuangan)
  • Government official, that are ministers, Member of People's Consultative Assembly and of the People's Representative council, Secretary-General, Inspector-General, Director-General, cabinet secretary, governor, vice governors, Secretary of regional district, inspector of the province, Speakers of Indonesian representative council at the provincial level
  • Active and retired Military and Police personnel.[44]


Citizens are allowed to have a selective fire AK-47 for home protection with limited ammunition.


Possession of firearms is generally illegal for common citizens. However, carrying a hunting rifle is allowed with permit. A person over 18, who has completed military service, may acquire a hunting rifle permit if he passes a security check and a background check and attends a gun education course. Illegal possession of a gun is punishable by prison terms of 6 months to 2 years for non-automatic guns and 2 to 5 years for automatic guns.


Civilians must obtain a firearms license to lawfully acquire, possess, sell, or transfer firearms and ammunition. Soldiers are generally allowed to carry their personal weapons and ammunition together while on furlough during active service, uniformed or in civilian clothing.

The list of below personnel are eligible for licenses allowing them to possess firearms:

  • Israel Defense Forces officers honorably discharged with the rank of non-commissioned officer
  • Reservists honorably discharged with the rank of regimental commander
    • Eligible to possess one rifle.
  • Ex–special forces enlisted men
  • Retired police officers with the rank of sergeant
  • Retired prison guards with the rank of squadron commander
  • Licensed public transportation drivers transporting a minimum of five people
  • Full-time dealers of jewellery or large sums of cash or valuables
  • Civil Guard volunteers
    • Civil Guard snipers may possess one rifle.
  • Residents of militarily strategic buffer zones considered essential to state security
    • Such personnel are may possess one handgun.
  • Residents of Israeli settlements
    • Settlers may possess handguns and can be issued automatic rifles by the army for personal protection. The automatic rifles are property of the army and may be confiscated at any time.
  • Licensed hunters
    • May possess one shotgun
  • Licensed animal-control officers
    • May possess two rifles

In addition, those applying for permission to possess firearms must meet certain age requirements:

  • 20 for women who completed military service or civil service equivalent
  • 21 for men who completed military service or civil service equivalent
  • 27 for those who did not complete military service or civil service equivalent
  • 45 for residents of East Jerusalem.

To obtain a firearms license, an applicant must be a resident of Israel for at least three consecutive years, pass a background check that considers the applicant's health, mental, and criminal history, establish a genuine reason for possessing a firearm (such as self-defense, hunting, or sport), and pass a weapons-training course.[45]

The Israeli government maintains an official registry of all residents with firearms licenses.[45]

All those holding firearms licenses must renew them every three years and pass a psychological exam every six years.[46] Permits are given only for personal use, not for business in the firearms sale while holders for self-defense purposes may own only one handgun, and may purchase a maximum of fifty rounds a year, except for those shot at firing ranges.

In addition to private licenses of firearms, organizations can issue carry licenses to their members for activity related to that organization (e.g. security companies, shooting clubs, other workplaces).

Members of officially recognized shooting clubs (practical shooting, Olympic shooting) are eligible for personal licenses allowing them to possess additional firearms (small bore rifles, handguns, air rifles, and air pistols) after demonstrating a need and fulfilling minimum membership time and activity requirements. Unlicensed individuals are allowed supervised use of pistols at firing ranges.

Those licensed to possess firearms may not carry them in public without a permit. Separate permits exist for being allowed to carrying open and concealed weapons.[45]

Around 40% of applications for firearms permits are rejected.[47]

In 2005, there were 236,879 private citizens and 154,000 security guards licensed to carry firearms. Another 34,000 Israelis who were previously licensed own guns illegally due to their failure to renew their gun license.[48][49] In 2007, there were estimated to be 500,000 civilian licensed guns in Israel, in addition to 1,757,500 in the military, and 26,040 in the police.[50][51]

To legally own a gun as a souvenir, prize, inheritance, or award of appreciation from the military, an individual must first present proper documentation that they are about to receive it. Permits for gun collectors are extremely rare, and typically only given to ex-high-ranking officers.

Under Israeli law, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison.[45]


During the Tokugawa period in Japan, starting in the 17th century, the government imposed very restrictive controls on the small number of gunsmiths in the nation, thereby ensuring the almost total prohibition of firearms.[52] Japan, in the postwar period, has had gun regulation which is strict in principle. Gun licensing is required, and is heavily regulated by the National Police Agency of Japan.

The weapons law begins by stating "No one shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords", and very few exceptions are allowed.[53] However, citizens are permitted to possess firearms for hunting and sport shooting, but only after submitting to a lengthy licensing procedure.[54]

North Korea[edit]

North Korea strictly prohibits the use, ownership, manufacture, or distribution of firearms by any citizen not serving in the military or special sectors of the government "executing official duties." Anyone in violation of firearms laws are subject to "stern consequences."

According to experts, gun laws were tightened by the late Kim Jong Il towards the end of his reign in an act to ensure control of society and maintain order for the eventual succession of his son Kim Jong Un.[55]


Pakistan has relatively liberal firearm laws compared to the rest of South Asia. In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Pakistan ranks in 6th place. Laws regulate the carrying of weapons in public in most urban areas. Private guns are prohibited in educational institutions, hostels or 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.[56] Gun culture is strong among Pakistanis and traditionally important part of rural and urban life.


The Philippines has generally strict gun laws, though guns are accessible to adults. Philippine gun control became notorious in 1972 during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos who implemented a near-prohibition of all civilian guns. Modern-day gun laws in the Philippines are outlined from Republic Act 10591 which was signed by Philippine president Benigno Aquino III in 2013. In order to own a firearm, a citizen must acquire a Possession License. Applicants must be at a minimum age of 21 years, and have no history of criminal activity as well as domestic violence. Citizens are also legally allowed to carry their pistols and handguns in public with the acquisition of a Permit to Carry or PTC, which are granted on a May-Issue basis.[57] Applicants must have a good reason for applying for a PTC, such as the imminent threat of danger. Republic Act 10591 allows lawyers or members of the Philippine Bar, certified public accountants, accredited media practitioners, cashiers, bank tellers, priests, ministers, rabbis and imams, physicians, nurses, and engineers to be granted a Permit to Carry.

Gun owners are required by law to renew their licenses every two years, and registration of their guns every four years. Failure to comply will result in revocation as well as confiscation of guns.

Most Filipinos own firearms for self-protection and target-shooting. Hunting and target-shooting also require licenses. Despite the strict laws, gun culture was particularly strong in the Philippines.[58]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

To obtain a firearms license, the person must be a citizen and provide a medical certificate given by a psychologist. Then the citizen must give reason for wanting to own whichever weapon they wish. After they follows the procedure within a week they are given the license or refused. After receiving the license they may go to a gun shop and purchase their firearm or reapply.


Citizens in Singapore must obtain a license to lawfully possess firearms and/or ammunition; applicants must provide justification for the licence, such as target shooting or self-defence. Target shooting licenses permit ownership of a gun, stored in an approved and protected firing range. Self-defence permits are nearly never granted, unless one can justify the 'imminent threat to life that cannot be reasonably removed'.

When a licence is obtained there is no restriction on types of arms one may own.[59][60][61]

South Korea[edit]

South Korea has one of the most restrictive gun policies in the world. Hunting and sporting licenses are issued, but any firearm used in these circumstances must be stored at a local police station. Violation of firearms law can result in a $(US)18,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.

Despite the strict regulations, the vast majority of South Korean males are well trained in the use of firearms, due to the mandatory military service required of all male citizens.[62]


A license is needed to own firearms and a reason must be provided such as target shooting or hunting. A license may not be issued to anyone who is a repeat offender or mentally unstable.

Fully automatic firearms and explosive devices are prohibited. A Semi-Automatic centerfire gun with a barrel larger than 16 cm are prohibited except for shotguns. All other types of firearms are permitted under license. A person is also not allowed to carry their gun without an additional permit for concealed carry.[63]


Gun laws in Vietnam are generally referred to as restrictive.

The only type of weapon Vietnamese citizens may own is a shotgun, and this is only after a license has been issued. The individual applying for the license must provide valid reasoning for wanting the shotgun such as hunting, and must be at least 18 years of age.

Handguns and automatic weapons are prohibited.[64]


Bosnia & Herzegovina[edit]

Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina has relatively liberal weapon laws compared to the rest of Europe. Weapons are regulated by "Weapons and Ammunition Law".[65]

People over 18 are allowed to own guns, but must be issued a permit. People with criminal history, mental disorders, history of alcohol and illegal substance abuse, cannot be issued a permit. There is a thorough background check prior to license approval (neighbors and family). To obtain a permit, the applicant must complete a course and pass a written multiple choice exam. Police have the last word on the matter, and there is appeal possible, to police captain only. When at home, the guns must be kept in a "safe place", and owner irresponsibility could lead to gun confiscation by police. With a permit issued, a person is allowed to carry their gun concealed. Pepper spray is allowed to females only and must be registered with police.


Firearms in Norway are regulated by the Firearm Weapons Act,[66] with a new secondary law in effect 1 July 2009 providing more detailed regulation.[67]


Only Russian citizens who are over eighteen years of age can own civilian firearms. Guns may be acquired for self-defense, hunting or sports activities only. Russian citizens can buy smooth-bore long-barreled firearms and pneumatic weapons with a muzzle energy of up to 25 joules. An individual cannot possess more than ten guns unless part of a registered gun collection, guns that shoot in bursts and have more than a ten-cartridge capacity are prohibited.

Carrying permits are issued for hunting firearms licensed for hunting purposes. People who acquire firearms for the first time are required to attend six and a half hours of classes on handling guns safely and must pass federal tests on safety rules and a background check.[68] Gun licenses are for five years and can be renewed.


Serbia has relatively liberal weapon laws compared to the rest of Europe. Serbia ranks in 2nd place on the List of countries by gun ownership. Gun culture is strong among Serbs and traditionally important part of rural life.

Weapons are regulated by "Weapons and Ammunition Law" (Zakon o oružju i municiji[69]). Rifles, shotguns and handguns are all allowed to civilians. Handgun ownership is allowed, but the licensing is strict. Concealed carry permits are available to approved handgun owners, but are extremely hard to obtain - one has to prove to the police that his or her life is in imminent danger, and even then, license is far from guaranteed.

In essence, people over 18 are allowed to own guns, but must be issued a permit. People with criminal history, mental disorders, history of alcohol and illegal substance abuse, cannot be issued a permit. There is a thorough background check prior to license approval. Police have the last word on the matter, and there is no court appeal possible. When at home, the guns must be kept in a "safe place", and owner irresponsibility could lead to gun confiscation by police.

Fully automatic weapons and non-lethal self-defense devices are prohibited[citation needed]. Number of guns that may be owned is not limited. Every gun transaction is recorded by police. There is no rifle caliber restriction (Must be smaller than .50BMG, however). Rifle and handgun ammunition is severely restricted, there is a 60 round limit per rifle, per year, except rounds shot at ranges. Shotgun ammo is unrestricted and shell reloading is allowed, but rifle and handgun ammo reloading is not. There is growing pressure, especially from sport shooters associations, to change the law in this regard.

Serbia has its own civilian gun and ammunition industry. Zastava Arms,[70] Prvi Partizan[71] and Krušik[72] export internationally.


Gun possession in Switzerland is one of the highest in Europe, in part because of an unusual practice of allowing men to keep their service weapon (but not its ammunition issued by the government) in safe store at home. The Swiss have universal conscription for military service.[73] A recent referendum on a call to force the weapons to be kept at military sites was defeated.[74] However weapons may voluntarily be kept in the local armory and there is no longer an obligation to keep the weapon at home.

Swiss gun laws are considered to be restrictive.[75] The Swiss "Federal Law on Arms, Arms Accessories and Ammunitions" of 20 June 1997, has as its objectives (Art 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, 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".[76]


Citizens are permitted to own non-fully automatic rifles and shotguns as long as they are stored properly when not in use. Handguns are illegal except for target shooting and those who hold concealed carry permits. Handguns are only allowed in .22, 9mm, .357mag and .38 calibre.

A license is required to own firearms, and a citizen may be issued a license if that person:

  • is 21 years of age (18 if the license is for hunting) for shotguns;
  • is 25 years of age for rifles;
  • has no criminal record;
  • has no history of domestic violence;
  • has no mental illness or history of mental illness; and
  • has good reason (target shooting, hunting, collection).

Concealed carry licenses are available, but are not normally issued unless a threat to life is present and can be proven.[77]

Once a license is issued, all guns must be kept unloaded and in a safe. If a person owns more than three firearms, the safe must have an alarm on it.

European Union[edit]

European Firearms Directive
Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons
Citation 91/477/EEC
Enacted by Council of the European Communities
Date enacted 18 June 1991
Date commenced 17 October 1991
White paper Completing the internal market
Directive 2008/51/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons
Status: In force

In the 1985 White Paper on completion of the internal market, the European Commission stressed out that the absence of border checks must not provide an incentive to buy arms in countries with less strict legislation. This goal was to be reached by approximation of the countries' national legislation.[78]

Prior to abolishment of the internal border controls, the Council of the European Communities adopted the Directive 91/477/EEC, which was later, in 2008, amended by Directive 2008/51/EC. As a Directive, it is not a self-executing norm, but a legislative act which requires Member State to achieve a particular result without dictating the means of achieving it. Member States must meet the minimum requirements laid down by the directive, but may also elect to adopt more stringent rules.[79] Thus certain countries such as the United Kingdom or Poland are unaffected as they maintain more stringent gun control laws than those effectively set as a minimum by the European Union, while others, like the Czech Republic, were forced to introduce more regulation in their national legislation.

In order to prevent the possibility that abolishment of internal borders would allow persons from Member States with stringent gun laws to acquire firearms in other states with more lax rules, the Directive makes purchase of B category firearms (see table below) abroad subject to authorization of the person's state of residence. At the same time, promoting the internal market, Member States may not prohibit acquisition of a firearm in other state unless such acquisition would be also prohibited domestically.[80] Moreover, the Directive calls upon the Member States to intensify gun controls on the external borders of the Union.

The Directive also introduced the European Firearms Pass, which is a locally-issued firearms license in a common format that allows citizens of the European Union (EU) to travel with one or more firearm(s) mentioned on the license from one Member State to another. For certain purposes other documentation may be required, depending on the current states' laws and the reason for the movement; a transfer may be temporary (for a competition) or permanent (on a sale).

Generally, a person with valid European Firearms Pass traveling to or through other Member States must inform the concerned Member States of particulars regarding the journey and firearm, after which he may be granted an approval.[81] Exception to this rule are hunters (regarding firearms in category C and D) and marksmen (B, C & D), who may be in possession of one or more firearms during journey with view to their activities, provided that they are in possession of a European firearms pass listing such firearm or firearms and provided that they are able to substantiate the reasons for their journey, in particular by producing an invitation. That, however, does not apply to journey through Member States that have more stringent laws and generally prohibit such firearms within their territory.[82]

The Directive recognizes the following four categories of firearms and ammunition:

Firearm category Designation Minimum standard required
Category A
- Prohibited firearms
1. Explosive military missiles and launchers.
2. Automatic firearms.
3. Firearms disguised as other objects.
4. Ammunition with penetrating, explosive or incendiary projectiles, and the projectiles for such ammunition.
5. Pistol and revolver ammunition with expanding projectiles and the projectiles for such ammunition, except in the case of weapons for hunting or for target shooting, for persons entitled to use them.
In general, the firearms are prohibited, authorization to acquire and possess may be possible only in special cases.[83]
Category B
- Firearms subject to authorization
1. Semi-automatic or repeating short firearms.
2. Single-shot short firearms with centre-fire percussion.
3. Single-shot short firearms with rimfire percussion whose overall length is less than 28 cm.
4. Semi-automatic long firearms whose magazine and chamber can together hold more than three rounds.
5. Semi-automatic long firearms whose magazine and chamber cannot together hold more than three rounds, where the loading device is removable or where it is not certain that the weapon cannot be converted, with ordinary tools, into a weapon whose magazine and chamber can together hold more than three rounds.
6. Repeating and semi-automatic long firearms with smooth-bore barrels not exceeding 60 cm in length.
7. Semi-automatic firearms for civilian use which resemble weapons with automatic mechanisms.
Acquisition and possession allowed only
  • to persons who have good cause, are older than 18 (or younger in case of hunters and sport shooters) and are not likely to be a danger to themselves, to public order or to public safety.[80]
  • subject to prior authorization.[84]
Category C
- Firearms subject to declaration
1. Repeating long firearms other than those listed in category B, point 6.
2. Long firearms with single-shot rifled barrels.
3. Semi-automatic long firearms other than those in category B, points 4 to 7.
4. Single-shot short firearms with rimfire percussion whose overall length is not less than 28 cm.
Acquisition and possession allowed only
  • to persons who have good cause, are older than 18 (or younger in case of hunters and sport shooters) and are not likely to be a danger to themselves, to public order or to public safety and[80]
  • subject to registration.[85]
Category D
- Other firearms
Single-shot long firearms with smooth-bore barrels. Acquisition and possession allowed only to persons older than 18.[80]

Since the Member States are bound to meet only the minimum requirements set by the Directive, the gun politics vary from one to another:


Guns are currently divided into five categories:
  • Category A - Forbidden weapons and military weapons
    • Military weapons:
      • Automatic Weapons
      • Semi automatic rifles not approved for civilian use
    • Forbidden weapons:
      • firearms disguised as other objects,
      • fast collapsible, shortenable or demountable weapons,
      • shotguns with an overall length under 90 cm and/or a barrel length under 45 cm,
      • silencers
      • weaponlights for rifles
      • brass knuckles
      • Totschläger (translation missing) (a flexible baton with a metal ball at the end)
      • Stahlruten (translation missing) (a slightly flexible baton)
Licenses to own category A weapons are available but rare, for example pre-ban grandfathered pump action shotguns - these are then added like normal category B weapons to the Waffenpass/Waffenbesitzkarte. Carrying permits for these kind of weapons are extremely rare.
  • Category B - Weapons requiring permission: Semi automatic long weapons for sporting and hunting, repeating (non-pump action) and semi automatic shotguns and weapons shorter than 60 cm in overall length (for example pistols and revolvers, but also bolt/lever/pump action rifles under 60 cm overall length). Semi automatic long weapon models are required to be verified as civilian-legal before this category applies to them, otherwise they are considered category A. A permission can either be a hunting license, gun ownership license ("Waffenbesitzkarte", for sporting, collecting and self-defense at home or work) or a carry permit ("Waffenpass", for carrying a loaded weapon outside of the owner's home or workplace), with the ownership license being the most common way to category B gun ownership.
  • Category C - Weapons requiring registration: Break action rifles and all repeating rifles (i.e. bolt-, lever- or pump action). All Austrian citizens aged 18 or over can freely buy and own this type of weapon, but ownership has to be registered at a licensed dealer or gunsmith within 6 weeks of purchase (Typically, if bought in a store, the store registers them after doing the required background check).
  • Category D - other Weapons: Break action shotguns. All Austrian citizens aged 18 or over can freely buy and own this type of weapon, but ownership has to be registered at a licensed dealer or gunsmith within 6 weeks of purchase (Typically, if bought in a store, the store registers them after doing the required background check).
  • less effective weapons - Weapons with matchlock, wheellock, flintlock ignition, single shot percussion guns, guns made before 1871, air and co²-guns. All Austrian citizens aged 18 or over can freely buy and own this type of weapon without any registration.


The Republic of Cyprus has strict gun control. Private citizens are completely forbidden from owning handguns and rifles in any calber, even .22 rimfire. Only shotguns are allowed, and these require a license. Shotguns are limited to two rounds. The only shotguns typically sold in stores are double-barreled side-by-sides or over-unders. Pump actions and semiautomatics are prohibited.
A private citizen can own a total of ten different shotguns. A citizen is not required to specify a reason for ownership to obtain a license, but most own their guns for hunting. Licenses are issued by provincial police. A gun license is required to buy ammunition, and ammunition sales are recorded. A shotgun owner may purchase up to 250 shells at one time. Cyprus also controls airguns, and airgun owners require a license.[86]

Czech Republic[edit]

While in other EU states the most common firearms are usually long hunting rifles, the most common gun in the Czech Republic is ČZ 75.[87]
Gun ownership in the Czech Republic is regulated by gun laws adhering to the European Firearms Directive. The law allows the acquisition and possession of firearms to persons who are not likely to be a danger to themselves, to public order or to public safety and have good cause; self defense is also considered to be a good cause. Generally, a firearm licence in the Czech Republic is available to anybody above statutory age with a clean criminal history who passes reliability check (e.g. no proven alcohol/drug abuse, no repeated offences related to firearms, intoxication, public order, violence, fishing or hunting) , tests about firearms legislation, weapon knowledge and first aid, and a medical inspection (which may optionally include psychological test). The Czech Republic is as a shall issue country.
For ownership of weapons categories A (Prohibited firearms), B (Firearms subject to authorization) and C (Firearms subject to declaration) a firearm licence is needed. Moreover for purchase of each weapon category A or B a police issued purchase permit is required prior the purchase. Purchase of category A firearm requires police issued exception, such exception is very rare and good cause for purchase of such prohibited firearm is required by law. Silencers, gun sights constructed on the principle of night vision devices, and laser sights are prohibited (classified as category A firearms).
After the purchase a registration of the firearm category A, B or C with the police is mandatory.
Gun ownership for self-defense purposes is acceptable. Unlike most European countries the Czech gun laws allow its citizens to carry a concealed firearm without the need to prove a specific reason. For self-defense purposes by private citizens only FMJ and soft point ammo is legal in handguns. Number of firearms owned by a single citizen is not limited, however one person may at one time carry no more than two concealed weapons. Safe storage rules are defined by the law and the requirements on storage depend on the number of firearms stored and/or amount of ammo stored.
Sport shooting is the third most widespread sport in the country (after football (soccer) and ice hockey).


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 forces, there is no limit on the number of licenses an individual may hold. Licenses are granted for recreational uses, exhibition or (under certain circumstances) professional use.
With the exception of law enforcement, only specially trained security guards may carry loaded weapons in public. There is almost no regulation of air rifles or crossbows, except that it is illegal to carry or fire them in public. Guns are divided into 13 firearms categories and four action categories; some of which are limited. Fully automatic weapons, rockets and cannons (so called "destructive" weapons), for example, are generally not permitted.
In November 2007 Finland updated their gun laws, pre-empting a new EU directive prohibiting the carrying of firearms by under-18's by removing the ability of 15- to 18-year-olds to carry hunting rifles under parental guidance. In 2011, after controversial high school shootings in 2008 prompted government review, a constitutional law committee concluded that people over the age of 20 can receive a permit for semiautomatic handguns. Though individuals have to show a continuous activity in a handguns sporting for last two years before they can have a license for their own gun.


In France, to buy a firearm, a hunting license or a shooting sport license is necessary. All semi-automatic rifles with a capacity greater than 3 rounds, all handguns and all rifles chambered in 'military' calibers, including bolt action, require permits. These are known as B1, B2 and B4 type permits. Firearms are divided into eight categories that determine the regulations that apply to their possession and use. France also sets limits on the number of cartridges that can be kept at home (1000 rounds per gun).
The total number of firearms owned by an individual is also subject to limits (not possible to have more than 12 authorizations/permits on B1, B2 and B4 type firearms).[88] As of September, 2013, France has a capacity limit of 20 rounds for handguns;[89] one needs a permit for category one[clarification needed] semi-automatics that have a capacity greater than 3 rounds. Fully automatic firearms are illegal for civilian ownership.


Gun ownership in Germany is regulated by the Federal Weapons Act (German: Waffengesetz), 1972; it extends previous gun legislation. It is considered a restrictive law.[90] Under this act Germany maintains a two-tier policy to firearm ownership.
A firearms ownership license allows for the purchasing of weapons by those over the age of 21 who meet various competency/trustworthiness guidelines. Convicted felons, those with a mental disability or those deemed unreliable are denied licenses. To get a license issued it is also required to prove the necessity of owning a gun, while self-defense is not an accepted reason to own a gun. Owners of multiple firearms need separate ownership licenses for every single firearm they own. For shooters it is necessary to be a member of a shooting club for more than one year. Furthermore, within the last 12 months, a visit to a shooting club must be recorded no fewer than 18 times.
The second tier is a firearms carry permit which allows concealed or open carry in public. The permits are usually only issued to individuals with a particular need; such as persons at risk, money couriers, etc.
The laws apply to any weapons with a fire energy exceeding 7.5 Joule.
Several weapons and special ammunitions are completely prohibited. To these belong for example automatic firearms and weapons of war, as well as weapons like Brass knuckles, Switchblades, Balisongs, Nunchakus or Tasers. 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. (31. December 2013) people in the country.[91]


Gun ownership in Hungary is regulated by Law 24/2004 and Law revision 13/2012.[92] Hungarian gun law is relatively strict:
In 2010, there were 129,000 registered gun owners (1.3% of the population) in Hungary with 235,000 weapons. The majority of these are hunting guns and handguns for self-defense.
Gun violence is very rare in Hungary; one of the most tragic event took place at the University of Pécs in 2009, causing 1 death and two injured. It was the first and the only school shooting in the country's history. Hungarian Police use lethal weapons less than 10 times a year.[93]


Firearms generally require a firearms certificate (commonly referred to as a licence) in Ireland, though several exceptions to this (such as couriers transporting firearms or people shooting at authorised fairground stalls or shooting ranges with club-owned firearms) exist. To obtain a firearms certificate, applicants apply to either their local Garda Superintendent (for unrestricted firearms) or to their local Garda Chief Superintendent (for restricted firearms). The licencing person has three months in which to issue a grant or refusal of the certificate. If a licence is refused, the applicant may appeal the decision to the local District Court. If the licencing person grants an application, the applicant pays the certificate fee at their local Post Office and the certificate is mailed to them. The fee is eighty euro and the certificate lasts three years from the date of issue.

Irish firearms law is based on several Firearms Acts, each of which amends those Acts which were issued previously. The Firearms Act 1925,[94] laid the foundations of the system of licencing. Relatively small modifications were introduced in 1964,[95] 1968,[96] 1971,[97] 1990,[98] 1998[99] and 2000,[100] but the cumulative effect of even small modifications (along with modifications in other Acts and confusion over which amendments were commenced and which were not) was such that by 2006, the Irish Law Reform Commission recommended[101] that all the extant legislation be restated (a legal process by which all the existing primary and secondary legislation would be read as one and a single document produced as the new Firearms Act (and all prior Acts would be repealed)).

The introduction of the Criminal Justice Act 2006[102] however, contained an enormous rewrite of the Firearms Act, rewriting almost 80% of the Act. It was quickly followed by further amendments in 2007[103] and further major amendments in 2009,[104] exacerbating the legislative confusion. As of 2014, the Law Reform Commission recommendation still stands and has not as yet been fully acted upon; 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 licencing decisions where the licencee held that the licencing person had not adhered to the Firearms Act.

As of 2014, this confusion persists and further cases continue to be brought before the courts.


Main article: Gun politics in Italy
In Italy different types of gun licenses can be obtained from the national police authorities. Gun usage is restricted to people over the age of 18. There are 3 licenses that allow individuals to own firearms: Hunting license; Shooting Sports license; and Concealed Carry license.
A shooting sports license allows the licensee to transport his/her weapon all throughout the national territory to use it in designated shooting ranges; upon transportation, said guns must be stored in a locked case and unloaded. The hunting license allows holders to engage in hunting with firearms, while to obtain a concealed carry license, a person has to prove that there exists a real "threat to life". This can be, for example, having been shot already.
The number of guns an individual may own and retain in their home is restricted by a classification: three common handguns, six sporting handguns/long guns, and an unlimited number of hunting long guns. Purchase of any gun and ammunition is allowed only to individuals issued with a gun license of any sort.

The Netherlands[edit]

In The Netherlands, gun ownership is restricted to law enforcement, hunters, and target shooters. Self-defense is not a valid reason to own guns. To obtain a hunting license one must pass a hunters safety course. To get one for target shooting, one must be a member of a shooting club for a year. People with felonies, drug addictions, and mental illnesses may not possess any firearms.
Once obtained, firearms must be stored in a safe. Firearms may only be used in self-defense as "equal force". Police will come once a year to inspect your guns. Fully automatic guns are banned, but there are otherwise few restrictions on the types of guns one may own. Semi-automatics, handguns, and magazines of all sizes are legal, as are all types of ammo. A licensed gun owner may only have five firearms registered to his or her license at one time.


Gun ownership in Poland is regulated by the Weapons and Munitions Act. A license is required to keep and purchase firearms. As a result of very strict controls, gun ownership in Poland is the lowest in the European Union, at one firearm per 100 citizens.[105] In order to get a gun license, one must:
  • Prove they are not endangering themselves nor general public by passing a psychological evaluation;
  • Display that they have clean criminal record;
  • Give a valid reason for wanting to own a gun, such as sport shooting or hunting. If the reason is self-defense, one must demonstrate why he believes his life is in danger;
  • Pass an exam in proper weapon handling (not required for members of PZSS and PZŁ).
The psychological evaluation must be repeated every 5 years. Some other weapons, such as crossbows, require the same license as is required for firearms.

There is no requirement of firearms license for:

  • Separate loading weapons constructed before 1885 or repilcas of that weapons
  • Weapons collected in museal collections (others regulations)
  • Professional weapons dealers (separate concession needed)
  • Gunsmiths (regulated by other laws)
  • Handheld incapacitating gas throwers
  • Weapons with shooting ability permanently removed
  • Starting pistol or other handgun, that could fire only 6mm (or less) caliber blank cartridges


Gun ownership in Romania is regulated by Law 39/2004. Romania has one of the toughest gun ownership laws in the world.[106] In order for citizens to obtain a non-lethal weapon, they must obtain a permit from the police, and must register their weapon once they purchased it. Civilians cannot purchase a lethal firearm. The only categories of people who are legally entitled to carry a weapon are 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.
Minors (15 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.[107]
The use of guns for self-defense is only allowed if the gun is a last resort option.[108]


Gun ownership in Slovakia is regulated principally by law 190/2003.[109] A gun license is necessary to purchase most firearms. Air guns with muzzle energy up to 15 J, gas pistols and non-repeating muzzle-loaded guns are available to anybody above 18 without permission. Fully automatic guns, sound supressors and hollow-point bullets (when used for self-defense) are forbidden.
A gun licence can be issued for 6 categories of possession (A - carrying for defense, B - possession at home for defense, C - gun-holding for work purposes, D - long guns for hunting, E - gun holding for sport shooting, F - guns collecting).
Generally one must be at least 21 years old, free of a criminal history, and of sound health of mind and body to apply for a gun license, which is then issued after passing an oral exam covering aspects of gun law, safe handling, first-aid, etc. The entire process of legally obtaining a firearm takes about three weeks. The license allowing concealed carry for self-defense is only issued if the police deem a sufficient justification exists—examples of such justifications include being a business owner (including those self-employed), handling money in connection with business, being a victim of violent crime in past, self defence etc. Possession of a firearm for home defense is generally much easier than obtaining concealed carry permit. 2% of the adult Slovak population holds a license allowing for concealed carry.[110]


In Slovenia gun ownership is regulated under the "Weapons Law" (Zakon o orožju) which is harmonised with the directives of the EU. The civilian ownership and purchase of firearms requires a specific reason:
  • for hunting or target shooting, a person must obtain a proof of their membership in a hunting or shooting sports organization.
  • for self-defense one must "prove that his personal safety at risk to such an extent that in order to ensure the needed a weapon for security".

Like in most EU member states, the ownership of Category A firearms is prohibited to civilians, however these firearms can be owned by the weapon collectors, providing that some other requirements are met. Regardless of the reason, before applying for a gun permit one must receive a medical exam and a test on the safe use of firearms. The applicant should additionally be at least 18 years old, reliable, without criminal history and has not been a conscientious objector (although one could revoke it at any time later). When keeping weapons at home the gun must be stored in a locked cabinet with ammunition stored in a separate location. Concealed carry is allowed in some special circumstances. The law also requires the gun permit for airguns where the projectile velocity at the muzzle exceeds 200 m/s or energy of 20 Joules. [111]



Gun ownership requires license and is regulated by the weapon law (Vapenlagen 1996:67)[112] further regulations are found in weapon decree (Vapenförordningen 1996:70)[113] and FAP 551-3 - RPSFS 2009:13 "Rikspolisstyrelsens föreskrifter och allmänna råd om vapenlagstiftningen".[114]

The law doesn't ban any specific firearms or weapons; it merely states the requirements to own one. Everything from pepperspray to fully automatic machine guns are technically legal, and licenses to civilians can be given in "special" cases. Like the other Nordic countries, Sweden has a high rate of gun ownership.

The weapons law doesn't apply to air guns and similar with a projectile energy less than 10 joules at the end of barrel.[115] These require no license and may be bought by any person over 18 years. Firearms manufactured before 1890 and not using gas-tight unit cartridges are exempt as well.[116]

The gun license is obtained from the Police, and one must be in good standing and at least 18 years old, but exceptions regarding age can be made. To apply, one must either be a member in an approved shooting club for at least six months or pass a hunting examination (jägarexamen). The former is mostly used to legally acquire pistols for sport shooting and the latter for hunting rifles and shotguns. A gun registered for sport-shooting may not be used in hunting. You are allowed to hunt without passing a hunting exam if you are chaperoned by someone that has passed the exam. The minimum age for taking a hunting exam is 15 years. A person under 18 years may not own a firearm him- or herself, unless an exception have been made. A person with a gun license may legally under supervision lend his or her gun to a person at least 15 years and older.

A person may be granted license to own up to six hunting rifles, ten pistols or a mix of eight rifles and pistols. Owning more firearms than this requires a valid reason. Firearms must be stored in an approved gun safe.

There is no specific permit for carrying guns. For civilians it's illegal to carry a firearm unless there is a specific, legal, purpose (hunting, going to range, etc.). The general guideline, for transport of firearms, is that the gun must be hidden and transported in a safe (unloaded etc.) and secure way (under supervision etc.). The laws and recommendations in how to transport weapons is found in "Rikspolisstyrelsens föreskrifter och allmänna råd om vapenlagstiftningen" (FAP 551-3 - RPSFS 2009:13)[112] and Vapenförordningen 1996:70.[113] A concealed carry permit can be obtained under very special circumstances, such as a proven and very real threat to one's life. Carrying a firearm in public is, otherwise, limited to law enforcement and specially trained security officers.

Another reason for gun ownership is collecting. A collector must have a clearly stated demarcation of the interest of the collection. To be a valid interest of collection it must be possible to obtain a complete collection, for example - Pre-World War II British handguns -. A collector may start a second (or more) collection if he or she has collected for several years and shown a great interest in gun history. If the collection holds guns of criminal interest, such as pistols or submachine guns, the police may demand a very high safety level on the keeping of the guns (such as security windows and vault doors). Collectors may also require a time limited permit in order to be allowed to fire their collectibles.

United Kingdom[edit]

Gun ownership rates vary throughout the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland has a very high rate of gun ownership, one of the highest in the world, and has less restrictive laws than the rest of the UK. In contrast England and Wales have considerably lower rates and Scotland has the lowest in the United Kingdom. Private ownership of firearms is common in many rural areas of Britain.[117] The gun crime rate rose between 1997 and 2004 but has since slightly receded,[118] while the number of murders from gun crime has largely remained static over the past decade.[119]

Over the course of the 20th century, the UK gradually implemented tighter regulation of the civilian ownership of firearms through the enactment of the 1920, 1937, 1968, 1988 (amendment), and 1997 (amendment) Firearms Acts and [120] leading to the outright ban on the ownership of all automatic, and most self-loading, firearms in the UK. The ownership of breech-loading handguns is, in particular, also very tightly controlled and effectively limited (other than in Northern Ireland)[121] to those persons who may require such a handgun for the non routine humane killing of injured or dangerous animals. In 2007, the number of deaths in Britain (population 60.7 million) from firearms was 51, and in 2008 it was 42, a 20-year low, with vast parts of the country recording no homicides, suicides or accidental deaths from firearms.[122]

Ownership of most types of firearm in the UK requires either a Shotgun Certificate (SGC) or a Firearm Certificate (FAC). Both of these are issued by local police after the applicant has met the required criteria. For a Shotgun Certificate the applicant need to demonstrate that they can securely store the firearms (usually a gun safe bolted to a solid wall), have no criminal convictions, no history of any medical condition or disability including alcohol and drug related conditions, no history of treatment for depression or any other kind of mental or nervous disorder, or epilepsy. Once a SGC is granted the person is free to purchase single shot, multi-barreled and repeating shotguns of lever action, pump action or semi-automatic with non detachable magazine that hold no more than 2 rounds of ammunition, plus one in the breech. There is no restriction on the number of shotguns that can be held on a SGC nor are there any restrictions on the amount of ammunition one can possess. The shotguns can be used wherever one has permission.

The criteria required for the grant of a Firearm certificate are far more stringent. Alongside safe storage requirements and checks on previous convictions and medical records, the applicant must also demonstrated a Good reason for each firearm they wish to hold (Good reason may include hunting, pest control, collecting or target shooting). Police may restrict the type and amount of ammunition held, and where and how the firearms are used.[123] Historically, most certificates approved for handguns listed "self-defence" as a reason. Since 1968 in mainland Britain, self-defence is not considered an acceptable "good reason" for firearm ownership (however use of a licensed firearm in self-defence is often justified provided that the victim can prove they used necessary and reasonable force). Only in Northern Ireland is self-defence still accepted as a reason. The police should not amend, revoke (even partially) or refuse an FAC without stating a valid reason. (Section 29(1) of the 1968 Act gives the chief officer power to vary, by a notice in writing, any such condition not prescribed by the rules made by the Secretary of State. The notice may require the holder to deliver the certificate to the chief officer within twenty one days for the purpose of amending the conditions. The certificate may be revoked if the holder fails to comply with such a requirement.)

Air rifles under 12 ft·lbf (16 J) and air pistols under 6 ft·lbf (8.1 J) can be purchased legally by anyone over the age of 18, and do not require a licence. Licensing is being discussed for all air weapons in Scotland.[124]

In England, Wales and Scotland, the private ownership of most handguns was banned in 1997 following a gun massacre at a school in Dunblane and a 1987 gun massacre in Hungerford in which the combined deaths was 35 and injured 30. Gun ownership and gun crime was already at a low level, which made these slaughters particularly concerning. Only an estimated 57,000 people —0.1% of the population owned such weapons prior to the ban.[125]

In the UK, only eight percent (8%) of all criminal homicides are committed with a firearm of any kind.[126] In 2005/6 the number of such deaths in England and Wales (population 53.3 million) was just 50, a reduction of 36 per cent on the year before and lower than at any time since 1998/9. In the years immediately after the ban, there was a temporary increase in gun crime, though this has since fallen back. The reason for the increase has not been investigated thoroughly but it is thought that three factors may have raised the number of guns in circulation. These are, the reduction in gun crime in Northern Ireland (which led to guns coming from there to the criminal black market in England); guns (official issue or confiscated) acquired by military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan; and guns coming from Eastern Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain.[citation needed]

Firearm injuries in England and Wales also increased in this time.[127] In 2005-06, of 5,001 such injuries, 3,474 (69%) were defined as "slight," and a further 965 (19%) involved the "firearm" being used as a blunt instrument. Twenty-four percent of injuries were caused with air guns, and 32% with "imitation firearms" (including airsoft guns).[128] In 2007 the number of deaths in Britain (population 60.7 million) from firearms was 51, and in 2008 it was 42, a 20-year low, with vast parts of the country recording no homicides, suicides or accidental deaths from firearms.[122]



Firearm laws in Australia are enforced at a Federal[citation needed] and State level. Gun ownership is accessible to the civilian population, and owners must comply with 'genuine reasons' to obtain a Permit to Acquire from their State government. For rifles, genuine reasons focus on either hunting and/or sport/target shooting, and do not include 'personal protection. Handgun licenses are also available, and applied for separately. In New South Wales, and similarly in other states, firearm ownership is widely prohibited for convicted offenders or those with a history of mental illness. Gun licenses must be renewed either annually or every 5 years, and expire automatically if not renewed.

Firearm control was in place prior to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. However, in its aftermath the major political parties implemented additional and extensive gun-control legislation, this have fueled the development of parties such as the New South Wales Shooters Party, which represent deregulation and they have a small number of seats in State Parliaments.[citation needed]

In 1996, then Australian Prime Minister, John Howard personally drove through legislation banning a variety of firearms classes including semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, and pump action shotguns, and placing strict restrictions around all others. It should be known that some pocket knives are classed as firearms in some parts of Australia. In Australia there is no legal way to possess a BB gun or similar toy as it is classed as a firearm but cannot be registered or acquired, This was part of the 'fight against firearm culture'. The American Journal of Law and Economics reported in 2010 that firearm homicides in Australia dropped 59 percent between 1995 and 2006. In the 18 years before the 1996 laws, there were 13 gun massacres resulting in 102 deaths, according to Harvard researchers, with none since.[129] However, many of the 'massacres' cited would be better described as domestic violence, and the presence of a firearm of any type was unlikely to have had an impact on the outcome. Unfortunately there has been gun crime and massacres in Australia despite firearms control, for example gangland killings, the Martin Place terror attack, Cairn child stabbings etc.[citation needed]

Overall homicide rates do not show any reduction following the 1996 and 2004 firearm buybacks. Tax payers paid a gun-levy as part of their tax, the funds raised from this levy was used for the compulsory acquisition of the peoples guns by the state. The firearms owners were asked if they would like to watch their firearms being destroyed when they went to the firearm collection points to hand over their firearms.[citation needed]

New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand's gun laws are notably more liberal than other countries in the Pacific,[citation needed] focusing mainly on vetting firearm owners, rather than registering firearms or banning certain types of firearms. Firearms legislation is provided for in the Arms Act and its associated regulations.

Firearms in New Zealand fall into one of four categories:

Registration is not required for "A Category" firearms, but firearms in any other category require both registration and a "permit to procure" before they are transferred.

Except under supervision of a licence holder, owning or using firearms requires a firearms licence from the police. The licence is normally issued, under the conditions that the applicant has secure storage for firearms, studies the Arms Code and attends a safety lecture and passes a written test. The police will also interview the applicant and two references (one must be a close relative and the other not related) to determine whether the applicant is "fit and proper" to have a firearm. The applicants residence is also visited to check that they have appropriate storage for firearms and ammunition. Having criminal associations or a history of domestic violence, mental instability, alcohol or drug abuse almost always lead to a licence being declined. Misbehaviour involving firearms e.g. being on private land without permission, commonly leads to the license being revoked by the Police.

A standard firearms license allows the use of "A Category" firearms. To possess firearms of another category they are required to get an endorsement to their licence. There are different endorsements for different classes of firearm but they all require a higher level of storage security, stricter vetting requirements and the applicant must have a 'special reason' for wanting the endorsement.

Generally air guns and paintball markers can be purchased by anybody over 16 (with a license) and unlicensed and unrestricted to persons over 18. However as a result of technology improvements a firearms license is now required to purchase high-powered Pre Charged Pneumatic (PCP) air guns (from October 2010).

Even when licensed, a person may only be in possession of a firearm for a particular lawful, proper and sufficient purpose[citation needed]. Self-defence is specifically excluded from being a proper purpose which needs to be a reason such as travelling to and from a range, on a hunting trip, working as a pest exterminator or if you are a member of the military or police. Even officers of the New Zealand Police rarely carry a pistol on their person. Instead, firearms, usually one or two pistols, shotgun and an AR-15 style weapon are carried in squad cars, locked in a secure mount.


Private citizens Personal protection Open carry Concealed carry Carry without permit Automatic firearms Free of checks Free of registration Max penalty
Argentina[2] Yes - may issue Yes - may issue May issue - specific reason needed No No No
Australia[130] Yes - shall issue No No No No No No No 20[131]
Austria (EU)[132] Yes - shall issue Yes - shall issue May issue -
specific reason needed
May issue -
specific reason needed
No May issue / restricted[133] No No 02[134]
Bosnia & Herzegovina[65] Yes - may issue Yes - may issue Yes - may issue Yes - may issue No No
Brazil[135] Yes - shall issue Yes - shall issue May issue / restricted May issue / restricted No[136] No[136] No[136] No[136] 03[131]
Canada[137] Yes - shall issue Yes No May issue / restricted No No (apart pre-1987)[137] No No 10[131]
Czech Republic (EU) Yes - shall issue Yes - shall issue Professionals only [138] Yes - shall issue No May issue / restricted[139] No No 02
China[140] May issue / restricted[141] No No No No No No No 02
Cyprus (EU)[142] Yes - shotguns only Yes - shotguns only May issue / restricted[143] No No No[142] No[142] No[142]
East Timor[citation needed] Yes Yes No No No No No 01
Egypt[144] Yes - may issue Yes - may issue Certain officials, military and police personnel No up to life imprisonment
Estonia (EU)[145][146] Yes - shall issue Yes - shall issue No Yes - shall issue
(No bullet in chamber - except revolvers)
No Yes - shall issue (collection purposes)[citation needed] No No 03
Finland (EU)[147] Yes - shall issue[148] No No No No May issue / restricted[133] No No 02[131]
France (EU)[149] Yes - shall issue Yes No May issue / restricted No No No No 07
Germany (EU)[150] Yes - may issue[151] May issue / restricted May issue / restricted May issue / restricted No No No No 10[150]
Honduras[152] Yes - shall issue Yes - shall issue No No No No No No 10[153]
Hungary (EU)[154] Yes May issue / restricted Professionals only[155] May issue / restricted No No No No 08[156]
India[157][158][159][160] Yes - may issue May issue -
specific reason needed
May issue -
specific reason needed
No No No[161] No[162] 03[131]
Indonesia[163][164] May issue / restricted[165] May issue / restricted May issue / restricted No No No No 20 / death[166]
Iraq Yes - shall issue Yes - shall issue Yes[167] No[168] No[168]
Iran[citation needed] May issue / restricted No No No
Israel[169] 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)[170] Yes - shall issue Yes No May issue / restricted No No No No
Jamaica[171][172][173][174] Yes - may issue Yes - may issue Yes - may issue Yes - may issue No No No No
Japan[175][176] May issue / restricted No No No No No No No 15[131]
Kenya[177] Yes - may issue[178] No No No No No No 15[131]
Mexico[179] Yes Yes May issue - specific reason needed May issue - specific reason needed No No No No 07[131]
Netherlands (EU)[180] Yes - may issue No No No No No No No 01[181]
New Zealand[182] Yes - shall issue No No No No Yes - may issue No Registration of certain firearm types 02[131]
North Korea No[183] No[183] No[183] No[183] No[183] No[183] No[183] No[183]
Norway[184] Yes May issue / restricted No No No May issue / restricted No No 00[185]
Pakistan[citation needed] Yes - shall issue Yes - shall issue Yes - shall issue Yes - shall issue No Yes No No 07[131]
Russia[186] Yes - may issue Yes - may issue No No No No No No 08
Serbia[187] Yes - shall issue Yes - shall issue May issue - specific reason needed May issue - specific reason needed No No No No 05[131]
Singapore May issue / restricted May issue / restricted May issue / restricted May issue / restricted No May issue / restricted No No 14 (minimum 5 years & beating of at least 6 strokes)
Slovakia (EU)[188] Yes - may issue[189] May issue - specific reason needed No May issue - specific reason needed No No May issue / restricted No
South Africa[190] Yes - may issue May issue -
specific reason needed
Automatic in case of legal possession Automatic in case of legal possession Automatic in case of legal possession May issue / restricted No No 15[131]
South Korea[191] Yes - may issue No No No No No No No 10[192]
Switzerland[193] Yes - shall issue Yes - shall issue May issue / restricted[194] May issue / restricted No Yes - may issue No Some classes of firearms exempt from registration[citation needed] 03[131]
Thailand[195] Yes - may issue[196] Yes - may issue Yes - may issue No No No No 10[131]
Ukraine[197][198] Yes - may issue No May issue / restricted No No No No 07[131]
United Kingdom (EU)[199] Yes - may issue (shall issue for shotguns) No No No No No No No minimum of 5 years imprisonment
USA Yes (no license) Yes (no license) Varies
Open carry in the United States
Concealed carry in the United States
Varies internally No (apart pre-1986)
Firearm Owners Protection Act
Varies internally Varies internally Varies internally
Vietnam[200] May issue / restricted No No No


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)

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's possible for a private citizen to legally acquire a gun (usually for hunting, sport shooting and often also for collecting)

Personal protection - Personal protection/self-defence is a legitimate reason to own a gun (or citizens are not legally required to establish a genuine reason)

Open carry - A private citizen may carry a firearm openly for self-defense (for example, with a special permit)

Concealed carry - A private citizen may carry concealed firearm for self-defense (for example, with a special permit)

Carry without permit - A private citizen may carry a firearm for self-defense without any special permit

Automatic firearms - Fully automatic firearms are allowed for civilians (for example, with a special permit); automatic weapons don't need to be permanently disabled

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

See also[edit]


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