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.

Laws of some countries 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.

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.

Vocabulary and terminology[edit]

Firearms are not defined the same way in each country.

Those laws might be classified by countries according to some specific common characteristics, according to following vocabulary:

  • Yemen and the majority of U.S. states do not require any permit for acquisition of a majority of types of firearms, meaning that any non-prohibited person can buy them from licensed dealers.
  • partially licensed: Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are partially licensed meaning that any non-prohibited citizen can buy repeating rifles and break-action shotguns from licensed dealers and a permit is only required for handguns and semi-automatic firearms.
  • shall-issue license: Out of the remaining countries, some require a shall-issue license (e.g. Canada,[citation needed] Czech Republic, and Malta), which is issued to people who meet all legal requirements. Typically in shall-issue countries, in order to deny license, authorities must prove that someone has violated legal conditions.
  • may-issue licensing: In countries with may-issue licensing laws (e.g. India, South Africa, and Thailand), authorities have discretion at determining whether a person may obtain firearms. In some countries only very limited groups of people can own them (e.g. China, Japan, Myanmar).
  • prohibition: In a few countries, including Cambodia, Eritrea, and the Solomon Islands, ownership of firearms is completely prohibited.


This section uses the expressions shall issue and may issue which are partly specific to and defined by the US system of firearm regulations.

;Possession of firearms by private citizens (note: this map deals with possession only, not carry of firearms): :
  No permit required – permits or licenses are not required to obtain and possess firearms
  Partially licensed – permit required to obtain and possess handguns, but not certain types of shotguns and rifles
  Shall issue – subject to fulfillment of legal conditions, the authorities may not deny license to possess firearm(s)
  May issue – the authorities have final say in whether a person may obtain a license to possess firearm(s)
  May issue – restricted – although the law provides for possibility of obtaining licence/permit necessary to possess a firearm, in reality they are unobtainable to average citizens
  No-issue – citizens cannot legally possess firearms

Gun laws worldwide
Region 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[1] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue May issue – specific reason needed May issue – specific reason needed No No No No Three years; six for prohibited weapons[2]
Australia[3] Yes – may issue No No No No No[4] No No No Determined by the courts[N 1]
Austria (EU)[5] Some firearms permitless
Most firearms shall issue
Some firearms permitless
Most firearms shall issue
Automatic in case of carry permit[N 2] Shall issue or may issue –
depending on reason and applicant
[N 3]
No, with exceptions[N 4] May issue – restricted[N 5] Yes Weapons made before 1871 and most black powder weapons Weapons made before 1871 and most black powder weapons 2[7]
Bahamas[8] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No May issue – restricted No No 7
Bosnia and Herzegovina[9] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No
Botswana[10] May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No No No No No No 10
Brazil[11] Yes – shall issue
(since 2019) [12]
Yes – shall issue
(since 2019) [12]
No May issue – restricted No No Yes – shall issue[13] No[12] No[12] 3 years; 6 for restricted weapons[14]
Brunei[15] May issue – restricted No No No No No No No No
Burundi May issue – specific reason needed May issue – specific reason needed May issue – specific reason needed May issue – specific reason needed No No No No
Canada[16] Yes – shall issue May issue – restricted No May issue – restricted No Pre-1978 only[16] Partially[N 6] No non-restricted only 10[17]
Cambodia No[18] No No No No No No No No 2
Chile Yes – may issue May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No Self defense licenses [N 7] No No 10[19]
China[20] May issue – restricted[21] No No No No No No No 7[22]
Region 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)
Colombia[23] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Moratorium in place with narrow exceptions Moratorium in place with narrow exceptions No May issue – restricted No No
Costa Rica[24] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No Yes – shall issue No No No, except rimfire ammunition No No
Croatia (EU)[25] Yes – shall issue Yes – may issue No Yes – may issue No No Yes No No 60 days
Cyprus (EU)[26] Yes – shotguns only [N 8] Yes – shotguns only May issue – restricted[27] No No No[26] No[26] No[26]
Czech Republic (EU) Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Professionals only[N 9] Yes – shall issue No Except 2 shot handguns with caplock mechanism May issue – restricted[N 10] Yes No No 2 (8 in special cases)[N 11]
Cook Islands No
(moratorium in place)[28]
No No No No No No No No
Denmark (EU) Yes – may issue No No No No No Short firearms unlimited. [N 12] No Only shotguns pre 2001 1 (minimum)
Djibouti[29] May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No
East Timor[citation needed] No No No No No No No No No 1
Egypt[30] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No Certain officials, military and police personnel No up to life imprisonment
El Salvador Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No No No No 5
Eritrea[31] No No No No No No No No No
Ethiopia[32] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No Yes – may issue No May issue 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)
Estonia (EU)[33][34] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No Yes – shall issue
(no bullet in chamber – except revolvers)
No Shall issue – members of Defence League off duty[35] No No 3
Fiji No
(moratorium in place)[28]
No No No No No No No No
Finland (EU)[36] Yes – shall issue No No No No May issue – restricted[N 13] No No 2[17]
France (EU)[37] Yes – shall issue May issue – restricted No May issue – restricted No No No No No 7
Gambia[38] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No 10[39]
Germany (EU)[39] Yes – may issue[N 14] May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No No Yes No No 10[39]
Guam Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No No No No
Guyana[40] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No May issue – restricted No No 10
Guatemala[41] Yes – shall issue Yes – may issue No Yes – shall issue No No No No 15
Honduras[42] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No No No No No No 10[43]
Hungary (EU)[44] Yes May issue – restricted Professionals only[45] May issue – restricted No No No No 8[46]
Iceland Yes – may issue No No No No No No No 4
India Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No Yes – may issue No No No No No up to life imprisonment
Indonesia[47][48] May issue – restricted[49] May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No No No No 20 or death[50]
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[51] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No Yes No No
Iran[52] May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No No No
Ireland (EU) Yes – may issue No No No No
Israel[53] 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)[54] Yes – shall issue Yes No May issue – restricted No No Yes No No
Jamaica[55][56][57][58] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No
Japan[59][60] May issue – restricted No No No No No No No 15[17]
Kenya[61] Yes – may issue[N 15] No Automatic in case of legal possession Automatic in case of legal possession No No No 15[17]
Kiribati[28] May issue – restricted No No No No No
Kosovo Yes – may issue[62] Yes – may issue No No No 10
Kuwait Yes – may issue May issue – restricted 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)
Laos[63] Public officials only Public officials only No No No No No 10
Lebanon May issue – restricted No No
Lesotho Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No
Liberia[64] May issue – restricted No No No No No No No
(same as in Switzerland[65])
Some firearms permitless
Most firearms shall issue
Some firearms permitless
Most firearms shall issue
No May issue – restricted No No No Maybe – criminal record mandatory for most transactions Some classes of firearms, such as hunting guns (Art. 10)
Lithuania (EU) Yes – shall issue[66] Yes – shall issue No Yes – shall issue
(no bullet in chamber – except revolvers)[67]
No No Yes No No 5[68]
Malaysia May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No No No No 14
Malta (EU)[69] Yes – shall issue No No No No Yes – shall issue (pre-1946 only) No No
Northern Mariana Islands Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue Automatic in case of legal possession No Automatic in case of legal possession (open carry) No No No Yes
(under court order)
Marshall Islands No[28] No No No No No No No No
Mauritania[70] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No 15
Mexico[71] Yes Yes May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No No No No 7[17]
Monaco[72] Some firearms permitless
Most firearms shall issue
No Hunting guns Hunting guns
Montenegro[73] Yes – shall issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Ancient weapons
(no bullet in chamber)
No No No
Mongolia[74] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No Yes – may issue No No
Mozambique[75] May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No No No No
Myanmar[76] No (except Chin hunters) No No No No No No No No 7
Namibia[77] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No Yes – must be unloaded No No No No 25
Nauru No[28] No No No No No No No No
Nepal Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No 7[78]
Netherlands (EU)[79] Yes – may issue No No No No No No No 1[80]
New Zealand[81] Yes – may issue No No No No No No No Registration of certain firearm types B and C category. 10[17]
Nigeria[82] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No No No 5[17]
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[83] No[83] No[83] No[83] No[83] No[83] No[83] No[83] 20 or death
North Macedonia[84] Yes – shall issue Yes – may issue No No No No No No
Norway[85] Yes May issue – restricted No No No May issue – restricted No No 3 months[86]
Pakistan[87] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No[N 16] Yes – shall issue Maybe – in rural areas Yes, with prohibited-bore license Yes No No 7[17]
Palau No[28] No No No No No No No No
Papua New Guinea No
(moratorium in place)[28]
No No No No No No No No
Philippines Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No 8
Poland (EU) Yes – shall issue[88] May issue – specific reason needed No – professionals only Automatic for self-defense and target shooting permits holders Cartridgeless black powder guns designed before 1885[89][90] May issue – restricted [N 17] Yes Cartridgeless black powder guns designed before 1885 Cartridgeless black powder guns designed before 1885 8
Puerto Rico[91] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No Yes – shall issue
(effective January 1, 2020)
No No Yes No No 5
Romania (EU) Yes – may issue May issue – restricted No – professionals only May issue – restricted No No No No No 5[92]
Russia[93] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No Yes – must be unloaded[94] No No No No No 8
Rwanda[95] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No
American Samoa Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No No No No No No
Senegal[96] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No [17]
Serbia[97] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No – professionals only May issue – specific reason needed No No No No 5[17]
Sierra Leone Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No
Singapore May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted May issue – restricted No May issue – restricted No No 14
Slovakia (EU)[98] Yes – shall issue[99] Yes – may issue[N 18] No May issue – specific reason needed[N 18] No May issue - restricted[100] 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)
Solomon Islands No
(moratorium in place)[28]
No No No No No No No No
South Africa[101] 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[17]
South Korea[102] Yes – may issue No No No No No No No 10 [103]3-15 years(since Sep 13,2019)
Spain[104][105] Yes – May issue May issue – restricted No May issue – restricted No No No No No
Suriname[106] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No No No
Switzerland[107] Some firearms permitless
Most firearms shall issue
Some firearms permitless
Most firearms shall issue
May issue – restricted, but authorized during transport if unloaded May issue – restricted No May Issue Shall issue Maybe – criminal record mandatory for most transactions No - registration of new purchases is mandatory since 2008 5[107]
Swaziland[108] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No
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[109] Yes – may issue[110] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No No No 10[17]
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)
Turkey[111] Yes – may issue No No May issue – specific reason needed No No No No No 3
Uganda[112] Yes – may issue No No May issue No Public officials only No No 10
Ukraine[113][114] Yes – may issue No May issue – restricted No No No No 7[17]
United Arab Emirates Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No No
United Kingdom (EU before February 2020)[115] Yes – may issue (shall issue for shotguns) No
(May issue for Northern Ireland)
No No No No Yes[N 19] No No 5–10[N 20]
United States Yes - shall issue Yes - shall issue
Permitless: 32 states
Shall issue: 7 states
May issue: 6 states
Anomalous: 1 state
Illegal: 4 states
Permitless: 16 states
Shall issue: 26 states
May issue: 9 states
Constitutional carry
(firearms registered before 1986)
Firearm Owners Protection Act
Varies internally Varies internally Varies internally Federal Prosecution: 10 years, State Prosecution: Varies[116]
Uruguay[117] Yes – shall issue Yes – shall issue No Yes – may issue No May issue No No 12
Uzbekistan[118] Yes – under license No No No No No No No No
Venezuela May issue – restricted May issue - restricted No No[119] No No No 20
Vietnam[120] May issue – restricted No No No No No No No 7
Yemen[121] Most firearms permitless Most firearms permitless Yes – may issue. Unrestricted in rural areas Yes – may issue. Unrestricted in rural areas In rural areas Yes – subject to valid license Yes Background checks for carry license Yes 1
Zambia[122] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – under license Yes – under license No No No No 15
Zimbabwe[123] Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue Yes – may issue No May issue – restricted No No 5
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)


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).[124] 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.[125]


Botswana's law allows possession of shotguns and rifles only. The government has put a limit on the number of licenses issued every year – only 50 people can receive them, no matter how many apply, meaning that the acceptance rate is usually below 1%.[126]

Currently there are 34,550 (or 1.5 per 100 people) registered firearms.[127]


Possession of firearms in Djibouti is generally prohibited except when special permits are granted in exceptional circumstances by the Head of State.


Firearms in Eritrea are completely prohibited for civilian use without exceptions.[31]


Current law states that firearm licenses are privilege in Gambia and authorities have full discretion in issuing them.[38]


Gun regulation in Kenya is established by the Firearms Act (Cap. 114) of Kenya.[128] The Chief Licensing Officer (CLO) has discretion to award, deny, or revoke firearm 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.


Applicants for firearm possession must have obtain a reference letter from the village chief or headman. It is later sent to local police stations for approval, then to district police for their approval, then to the National Security Service for their final approval.


Liberia allows only possession of single barrel shotguns for hunting purposes. Private security agencies are banned from arming their employees. However, automatic weapons are prevalent.


There are no licensed firearm dealers in Mozambique, therefore any person wanting to obtain one must travel to a different country (usually South Africa), purchase guns, then return, surrender them for authorities and ask them to allow them to obtain them.[75]


Namibia permits firearm ownership under license, which is issued on a may-issue basis. In 2017 Namibian police issued 7,647 firearm licenses from 9,239 applications, the acceptance rate therefore being around 83%.[129] Overall there are currently 200,100 registered firearms in Namibia or 9 per 100 people. Most popular types of firearms owned by civilians are pistols (46%), rifles (34%) and shotguns (24%).[130] Carrying unloaded concealed firearms in public is allowed.


In 2019 Rwanda passed a new law dealing with firearm possession. It states that authorities have total discretion when determining whether persons can own firearms and can therefore deny applications without reason, even if someone met all requirements.[95]


Senegal has a strict gun legislation. Applications for firearm licenses do not need to specify a reason. An application requires: copy of identity card, criminal record, medical check-up, four photos, tax stamp and personality test. Decisions should be made after a few months.

Gun ownership is very rare, however numbers are on the rise. In 2016 Senegal police issued 1000 licenses, while rejecting 250 (80% acceptance rate), compared to 456 in 2011. In 2017 it was estimated that police issued more than 7,000 total licenses (0.04 per 100 people).

Sierra Leone[edit]

In 2012 Sierra Leone legalized gun ownership after 16 years of a total ban being enforced.[131] According to the act authorities have discretion in determining whether persons have good reasons to own firearms.

South Africa[edit]

To apply for a firearm license in South Africa applicants must pass a competency test covering the specific type of firearm that is being applied for, and a test on the South African firearm laws. Once these tests are passed one needs to apply for a competency certificate, where the South African Police Service performs a background check and an inspection of the premises where the firearm will be stored. After both tests are passed and the respective certificates are awarded, one can then apply for a firearm license in categories ranging from self-defence to professional hunting. Different license categories have different restrictions, for example the amount of ammunition owners may hold.[132]


Permitted types of firearms in Swaziland are shotguns, revolvers, pistols and rifles. To obtain a license one must get approval from the Local Chief's council, Local Station Commander, Regional Administrator, Director of Crimes at Police Headquarters, Licensing Officer/Registrar of Firearms Registry, Licensing Board and lastly the Police Station Commander. Requirements include general standing in the community. The application acceptance rate is around 57% as of 2002.[108]



Firearms in Argentina are restricted, being regulated by ANMaC (Agencia Nacional de Materiales Controlados) since October 2015. 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, and 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 discharge 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.[133]

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.[1]

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.[134]

Handguns above .32 calibre are conditional-use; fully automatic handguns are prohibited to civilians. Bolt-action rifles above .22, long rifles and semi-automatic rifles above .22, and long rifles with a non-detachable magazine are conditional-use; fully automatic rifles and semi-automatic rifles above .22, and long rifles 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.[135][clarification needed]


All firearms in Brazil are required to be registered. The minimum age for ownership is 25,[136] and certificates of aptitude and mental health are required prior to the acquisition of a firearm and every ten years thereafter.[137] It is generally illegal to carry a firearm outside your residence, commerce/store or farm.[138] Executive Order No. 5.123, of 1 July 2004[139] allows the Federal Police to confiscate firearms which are not possessed for a valid reason; self-defense is not considered a valid argument.[140]

The total number of firearms in Brazil is thought to be between 14 million and 17 million[138][141] with an estimated 9 million being unregistered.[136] In a 2005 referendum, Brazilians voted against a government proposal for a total ban on the sales of firearms to private citizens.[136]

In January 2019 President Bolsonaro signed an executive order which loosened Brazil's gun laws by removing the police's discretionary power to reject license applications.[142]


Canada's firearm laws are stated in the Firearms Act. The possession and acquisition licence (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.[143] The two main reasons for owning firearms are target shooting and hunting.

Carrying firearms for self-defense against human threats is prohibited without a permit. These permits are typically only issued to Police, and those in a profession that involves carrying valuable goods, such as armoured car personnel. The RCMP is also able to issue an Authorization to Carry permit to private individuals on the basis that a person's life is in imminent danger and police protection is inadequate. These permits are seldom issued. In the 1990s, Toronto City Councillor Norm Gardner was revealed to hold such a permit when he shot a man who was committing a robbery. As of October 2018, only two permits for protection of life were actively issued in the country.[144]

An Authorization to Carry permit can be obtained for protection against wild animals.[145] However these are only issued to a licensed professional trapper, or to people in a profession that exposes them to dangerous animals in remote areas. However the applicant must prove why carrying a rifle or shotgun isn't possible, and they must choose a firearm that is appropriate for the circumstances. [146]

In Canada, firearms fall into one of three categories:[147]

  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, military-grade assault weapons,[148] 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.

Restricted and Prohibited firearms can only be used at an approved shooting range, and cannot be used for hunting. Transportation of firearms that meet these classifications are restricted by an Authorization to Transport (ATT) permit, and they can only be transported to and from approved ranges in a locked case.

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.[143]


In Chile, the 103rd article of the Constitution declares gun ownership as a privilege granted in accordance to a special law.[149] 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 possessing 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 lies in a district police commander, who can deny the permit in "justified cases" not detailed by the law. There are five types of permits:

  • A defense permit allowing ownership of 2 firearms which must remain at the declared address.
  • A hunting permit requiring a hunting license, and allowing up to 6 firearms.
  • A sporting permit requiring membership in a registered gun club, and also allowing 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, and does allow the holder to possess ammunition.

Each of these permits has limits on types of firearms used, 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.[150]


Article 3 of Colombia's firearm law states that civilians may possess firearms only via permit issued at discretion of the competent authority.[23]

In 1993, Colombia legislated gun ownership, effectively establishing a government licensing monopoly. In 2016, president of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos signed an executive order suspending civilians from carrying firearms, with some exceptions including security details, hunting, private defense and collection. It was extended in 2018 by newly elected president Ivan Duque, albeit with the added stipulation: "for reasons of emergency or security […] taking into consideration among other factors, the particular circumstances of each application". A legal challenge to this modification has been prepared.[151]

El Salvador[edit]

Salvador laws aims to allow and regulate civilian possession of firearms. In order to get a firearm license one must have no criminal records, be at least 21 years of age (24 for a carry license), pay tax stamp (around $32 dollars) and undergo a written test. The process takes around three hours in total.[152] In 2017 there were 344,587 registered firearms in El Salvador, or 5.6 per 100 people.


Gun laws in Honduras are stated in the Act on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Material of 2000.[153] In April 2002, the National Arms Registry was formed, requiring all citizens to register their firearms with the Ministry of Defense.[154]

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.[155] In 2007, an additional decree suspended the right to openly carry a firearm in public, and limited the number of firearms possessed per person.[156]


Gun laws in Jamaica are stated in the Firearms Act and regulated by the Firearms Licensing Authority.[157] 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.[158] 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.[159]


Under the Mexican Constitution, Article 10, citizens and legal residents have the right to own and carry arms, but may only carry them in accordance with police regulations, i.e. Article 32 of the "Ley Federal de Armas de Fuego y Explosivos".[160] Applicants must: have a clear criminal record; proven income and residence (i.e.: cannot be homeless); undergone compulsory military service; a clean bill of health (including drug tests); justified the weapon's use; be employed.[161] 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, but it must be registered within 30 days of purchase.[162] 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.[163] A carry license may be issued to those employed by private security firms, and certain weapons are exclusive to the armed forces.[164] Licenses must be renewed biennially.[165]


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 a concealed firearm, with all the same requirements, is available to those aged 21 and over.[166] 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.[167]

United States[edit]

Issuing of concealed carry permit by county
  May-issue (Shall-issue in practice)
  May-issue (No-issue in practice)
A map of open carry laws in the United States:
  Permissive open carrying (26)
  Permissive open carrying w/ local restrictions (6)
  Licensed open carrying (13)
  Anomalous (1)
  Non-permissive (4, plus D.C.)

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 since 1791,[168] 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. Fully-automatic firearms (or machineguns) are allowed only if they were manufactured before 1986, and a $200 tax stamp is paid. Additionally, the buyer must wait 9–12 months and have their fingerprints recorded. Since civilians are only allowed to own machineguns manufactured before 1986, their market value has risen into the tens of thousands of dollars.[169]

Law varies greatly from county to county, both in its scope and in its range.[170]

Persons are generally prohibited from purchasing a firearm if:[171]

  • 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 Unrestricted 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. However, under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, current and former law enforcement officers can carry anywhere (except private property where they are subject to the rules of the owner and gun-free public places like schools) as long as they carry a photo id from their agency and have completed yearly training from said agency. There have been legal challenges to concealed-carry laws, with different rulings to their constitutional validity.


Uruguayan law allows for firearm possession on a shall-issue basis. These firearms must be of a caliber smaller than .50 BMG. Carry permits are issued on a may-issue basis, which in practice is no-issue except for people working as private security guards. Policemen and military can carry their firearms while off-duty without the need for a licence. The legal carrying of firearms must always be in a concealed manner, no open carry is allowed. In recent times, politicians from the governing coalition have expressed their intentions of allowing the issuing of concealed carry permits to civilians. With approximately 35 civilian firearms per 100 people, Uruguay is the eighth most armed country in the world and most armed in Latin America.


In 2012 Venezuela banned private sales of firearms and ammunition hoping to lower crime rates. The Army, police and certain groups trusted by the government (collectivos) are exempted from the ban and can buy firearms from state-owned manufacturers.[172] In 2013 Venezuela stopped issuing new firearm licenses.[173] In 2017 government banned carrying firearms in public places.[119]

Since then, the government began to seize guns from civilian hands, destroying thousands every year, including more than 15,000 in 2018. More than 483,297 private guns have been destroyed since 2003, with 3,000 of them being surrendered voluntarily. 60 disarmament centres were created in the country. Penalty for illegal firearm possession was raised to 20 years imprisonment in 2013.[174]

According to the government, the only people who should carry guns are public agencies. Néstor Reverol, Minister of the People's Power for Interior Relations and Justice, claimed that strict gun control led to a reduction in crime and kidnappings in Venezuela.[175]



Firearms are prohibited for citizens. Military and police personnel may apply for a licence to keep a private firearm by establishing a genuine reason, such as sport shooting or gun collecting.[176]


Firearms are completely prohibited for civilian use without exceptions since 1999.[18]

People's Republic of China[edit]

Gun ownership in the People's Republic of China (PRC) is 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.[177][178] Illegal possession or sale of firearms may result in a minimum punishment of three years in prison,[179] and penalties for the trafficking of "arms and ammunition or other military materials to an enemy during war time" include life imprisonment.[180]

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 Hong Kong, a license is required for unrestricted firearms and ammunition.[181] 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 different premises.[182] Only fully automatic firearms appear prohibited; those found in possession without a license could be fined at level 6 of the standard scale[183] ("Maximum fine of HKD $100,000") and face imprisonment for up to 14 years.[184]

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.[185][needs update]


Guns in India are 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.[186] 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 calibers .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.[187]

Licenses for acquisition and possession of both PB and NPB firearms could be given by a state government or district magistrate before 1987. Since that year, 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 the selling and purchasing party to possess a permit.[188]

The criteria considered during issuing 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 occupations involve open threats and danger, and their immediate family members. PB licenses were tightened since 2014, when otherwise-eligible persons started to be frequently rejected on basis of national security grounds.[189][190][191][192][193][194][195] 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.[188]

Firearm licenses are issued on a may-issue basis and approximately half of applications are accepted. For example, between April 2015 and March 2016 authorities in Mumbai rejected 169 out of 342 firearm applications.[196]

The most common household firearm is the 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).[197][relevant? ]


In Indonesia, gun licenses are issued to civilians employed in a profession that involves using firearms, such as in the military and law enforcement, with an exception made for politicians and businessmen.

Applicants must be over the age of 21 to obtain a firearms license, and go through a background check and mental evaluation. They must also state a genuine reason for wanting to own a firearm, which can 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.[198]

Civilians cannot possess military weapons, but may possess long rifles. Handguns can only be used for sport-shooting and hunting. In 2012 however, it was claimed that police had been issuing permits to regular citizens.[199]


In 2012, Iraq relaxed its gun laws. The "possession of one rifle or pistol per home" was allowed via simple registration at local police stations.[200]

In 2017, the law was relaxed once again. The possession and carrying of handguns, semi-automatic and fully automatic firearms and other weapons for self-defense, hunting and sport shooting purposes was allowed. Firearm licenses require official authorization and identity cards.[201][51]


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 and qualified in Advanced Infantry Training ('Rifleman "07"') to apply for a private handgun license.[202]

Prior to 2018, 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: 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.[203] Around 40% of applications for firearms permits were rejected.[204]

Those holding firearms licenses must renew them and pass a shooting course every three years. Security guards must pass these tests to renew their license to carry firearms belonging to their employers.[205] 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).[206]

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, pistol caliber carbines, 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 shotguns and small bore rifles at firing ranges.

Most individuals who are licensed to possess handguns may carry them loaded in public, concealed or openly.[203]

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.[207][208] 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.[209][210]


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.[211] Citizens are permitted to possess firearms for hunting and sport shooting, but only after submitting to a lengthy licensing procedure.[212] As part of the procedure, a shooting-range test must be passed with a "mark of at least 95%".[213] A mental-health evaluation taking place at a hospital, and a thorough background check where one's family and friends are interviewed, are also part of the aforementioned procedure.[214]

A gun license expires after three years, after which license tests must be repeated.[215] After ten years of shotgun ownership, a license-holder may apply to obtain a rifle.[citation needed]

Japan has been described as the country with "perhaps the first ever gun buyback initiative" in 1685, and is the first nation to impose gun laws in the world;[214] as such, gun ownership is very rare: 0.6 guns per 100 people in 2007. When mass killings occur, they are often perpetrated with assailants wielding a knife, not a gun. In 2014, Japan saw 6 gun deaths.[213]

Each prefecture in the country, can operate a total of three gun shops. New cartridges can only be bought by turning in the empty shells.[215] In turn, magazines can be bought only by trading in empty ones. If a gun owner dies, their relatives must give up the firearms.[215] Off-duty police are not allowed to carry weapons, and arrests are made generally without firearms;[214] instead police are expected to be black belts in judo.[215]


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.[216] Hunting shotguns are the most commonly licensed weapons. Rifles chambered for .22 long rifle are also common, with hunting rifles being more difficult to obtain. Handguns are only allowed for VIPs. Automatic rifles and machine guns are not legally permitted for civilian possession.[citation needed]


In the Lebanese Republic, ownership of any firearm other than handguns, hunting arms or antiques is illegal and only the latter two are permitted to leave the owner's home. Disregard for this law is prevalent. Lebanon does not officially grant the right to bear arms, but it is a firmly held cultural belief in the country. Firearm licenses are granted to certain individuals, but the test is not open to the public and requires a particular need to be demonstrated.[217]

Gun control has been largely unsuccessful in Lebanon due to a historic context of gun availability and usage, 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.[218]

Lebanon ranks 58th worldwide for privately owned firearms per capita.[217]


The Arms Act (1960)[219] requires Malaysian citizens to have a license for the 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.[220] While the general public cannot obtain a gun through legal means, a black market for guns does exist.[221]


Mongolia currently observes a law on firearms passed in 2001 which allows anyone to apply for a firearm license, which may be issued after 21 days.

There are 46,982 (or 1.6 per 100 people) registered firearms in Mongolia including 44,306 for hunting, 1,598 for security and ward use, 619 for sports training, 260 as "art" firearms and 199 for collection purposes.[222]


Possession of firearms for civilians is generally prohibited except Chin hunters.


Nepal allows firearm ownership if an applicant can provide sufficient reason, for example hunting or self-defense.

There are 34,315 (or 0.1 per 100 people) registered firearms in Nepal including 13,892 shotguns, 312 pistols and 118 revolvers.[223]

North Korea[edit]

In 2009, North Korea enacted a new law strictly regulating firearms.[224]


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.[225] The law in Pakistan does not stipulate whether gun licenses 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 is 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.[citation needed]


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 in the Republic Act 10591, signed in 2013. In order to own a firearm, a citizen must acquire a Possession License. Applicants must be over 21 years of age and have a clear criminal or domestic violence history. License-holders may carry handguns in public with the acquisition of a Permit to Carry (PTC), which is granted on a may-issue basis.[226] Applicants must demonstrate the 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: around 2 000 000 people out of 100 000 000 have a registered firearms.[227]

Despite the laws, some people in the Philippines are gun enthusiast and gun users, in part due to the influence of American culture.[228]


Citizens in Singapore must obtain a license to lawfully possess firearms or ammunition; applicants must provide justification for the license, which is often restricted to the military, police, and private security companies. 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 not allowed, unless there is an 'imminent threat' to their lives that can be justified to the government. There is no restriction on types of small arms one may own after obtaining a license.[229][230][231]

South Korea[edit]

The majority of South Korean men are well-trained in the use of firearms, due to mandatory military service.[232] Despite this, guns are notably absent in South Korean society outside of the military, and gun ownership and gun-related deaths rank among the lowest in the world.[233][234]

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 laws can result in a US$18,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.[232] Penalties were increased to 3–15 years in prison and $30,000–$150,000 fine on 13 September 2019, making South Korea a country with one of the strictest gun laws among developed countries with democratic political systems.


Both rifles and handguns can be held by citizens, albeit with strict controls. An unusual feature of the rules are specific provisions for indigenous people, and self-made weapons.[235][236] Gun owners in Taiwan are required to receive regular inspections every two years as well as random inspections by the police.[237]


A firearm license in Thailand is only granted for the following uses: self-defense, property protection, hunting, or sporting.[238][239] 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 criminal 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.[240] A person is also not allowed to carry his gun without an additional permit for concealed carry.[241] Fully automatic firearms and explosive devices are prohibited.[242]

The amended 2017 law 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 to convictions of 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 with convictions including imprisonment for a period of between one and ten years and/or fines of between 2,000 and 20,000 Baht.[240]


Turkey is restrictive in terms of gun control statutes.[243] 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".[244] Background checks are mandatory, and a "genuine reason" is required for the issue of licenses.[245]

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.[citation needed]

United Arab Emirates[edit]

In 2019, the government of the United Arab Emirates relaxed its gun laws. The minimum age to possess firearms was lowered from 25 to 21, while legal owners can now have up to three guns. People from other countries also can apply for licenses if they already possess one from their respective countries. Most popular purposes to own them include hunting and trap shooting.

Weapons can be purchased during a yearly gun show called Adihex. In 2018, more than 1,764 legal weapons have been sold.[246]

Firearm licenses are issued after 60 days of applications to the relevant authority. If there is no response that means that the license has been rejected.[247]


In 2019, the president of Uzbekistan signed a new gun law. It allows citizens to own smooth-bore firearms and firearms with rifled barrels for hunting and sport shooting purposes. Carrying in public places is prohibited and the minimum age is 21 years. Only gas and electric weapons can be used for self-defense purposes. The maximum magazine capacity is ten rounds.[118]


Firearms in Vietnam are restricted to the military and law enforcement agencies, with possession of firearms prohibited to civilians.[248] The chief exception to this is for hunting and sporting purposes, requiring users to undergo mandatory background checks to be licensed.


Yemen has a permissive gun policy and does not require permits for firearm ownership. The 1992 Law "On Regulating Carrying Firearms and Ammunitions and Their Trade", established the right to own firearms (rifles, machine guns, revolvers and hunting rifles) for the purpose of legitimate defense. Licenses are required to carry firearms in cities, which are issued on a may-issue basis with varying restrictions depending on the city. Open and concealed carry is unrestricted in rural areas.[121] Since the breakout of the civil war in 2011 there has been barely any state gun control, and rifles, semi-automatic firearms, anti-tank guided missiles or armored vehicles are available over the counter for various militias and individuals willing to buy them.[249]

According to the Small Arms Survey of 2018 titled Estimating Global Civilian-Held Firearms Numbers, there are roughly 14.9 million civilian-held firearms in Yemen or 52.8 firearms held per 100 residents, making Yemen the 2nd most armed country in the world after the United States".[250]


Issuing of concealed carry permit in Europe (by country, 2019):
  shall-issue or may-issue (depending on reason and applicant)
  may-issue restricted (no-issue in practice)
  no data


The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska have relatively strict weapon laws compared to the rest of Europe. Weapons are regulated by the Weapons and Ammunition Law.[9] 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 police captain. Firearms must be kept in a "safe place" within a residence, and may be confiscated by police if the owner is found to be "irresponsible". Concealed carry is allowed with a permit. Pepper spray may be carried by females if registered with police.[citation needed]


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.[251]


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.

Applicants must sit through a mandatory four-hour lecture on the "history and physics of the firearm".[252] Paperwork must be filed in the police, magistrate, and the Environment Agency of Iceland. Applicants need to prove clean criminal records, need to be evaluated by a doctor to prove they "are of sound mind" and have "good enough eyesight". Two books referring to guns must be bought and read, a three-day course must be attended, and the applicant should score at least 75% on exams concerning gun safety, management, "what animals are allowed to be hunted and when". Finally, a practical exam must be taken. After Icelanders have their license, they need to own a gun safe to store the weapons in, plus a separate place to store the ammunition".[253]

Approximately one gun is owned for every three people in the country, being used mostly for hunting and competitive shooting.[252] From January to July 2019, 394 shotguns, 785 rifles, and 208 handguns were registered in Iceland. In total, police counts for guns in Iceland include about 40,000 shotguns, 25,000 rifles, and 3,600 handguns as of July that year.[253]


Law in Monaco divides firearms into two categories:

  • Category "A" weapons including hand guns, semi-automatic firearms and those firing centerfire ammunition require membership in the Monaco Rifle Club, a certificate of aptitude and handling for the requested weapon, and no past history of treatment in a psychiatric unit;
  • Category "B" weapons are hunting weapons which do not require licensing unless they are imported.

North Macedonia[edit]

To obtain a firearm license in North Macedonia one must be at least 18 years old, able-bodied, healthy, not representing danger to public order, have permanent residency, possess technical knowledge of weapons and regulations related to them and have a justified reason for acquiring the weapon. Justified reasons include:

  • Proving one's life or property are in danger;
  • Being an active member of hunting or archery associations and passing a specific hunting exam;
  • Being a weapons collector;
  • Legally inheriting a weapon;
  • Weapons having been granted as awards by the state or during archery competitions.

Fully automatic firearms are prohibited. Carrying firearms in public places is prohibited.


Firearms in Norway are regulated by the Firearm Weapons Act,[254] with a new secondary law in effect 1 July 2009 furthering regulation.[255] A firearms license for rifles or shotguns can be issued by police to "sober and responsible" persons 18 years of age or older who are able to document a need for the weapon. This usually requires first obtaining a hunting or sports-shooting license. For handguns, the minimum ownership age is 21. Firearms or their vital components must be stored securely in the residence, and police may make inspections after providing 48-hours' 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 valid 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, purchases are 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, but with the growing popularity of practical shooting events and competitions in Russia in recent years (e.g. IPSC), handgun ownership has now been allowed and the handguns have to be stored at a shooting club. Rifles and shotguns with barrels less than 500 mm (20 in) long are prohibited, as are firearms which shoot in bursts or 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.[256]

In 2014 Russia slightly relaxed its gun laws by allowing carrying unloaded and concealed firearms for self-defense purposes.[94]


Serbia has weapon laws and ranks third 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 the Weapons and Ammunition Law (Zakon o oružju i municiji).[257]

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 their firearms at any time provided they are unloaded. Concealed carry permits for handguns require proving an imminent threat, with the police making a final decision. Therefore, concealed carry permits are 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 caliber restriction. Fully automatic firearms and suppressors are prohibited for civilians. Automatic long firearms are allowed to be obtained and used by legal persons under special circumstances. 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.[258] There is no restriction regarding the number of rounds that may be purchased. Ammunition may be bought only for the caliber in which an 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,[259] Prvi Partizan,[260] and Krušik.[261]


Firearm regulations in Switzerland are comparatively liberal.[262] The Swiss have male conscription for military service.[263] A recent referendum in 2011 on a call to force military weapons to be kept at military sites was defeated.[264] 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".[265][107]


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).[266] 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.[267]

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.[268]

Weapon permits are not issued, and issued ones are canceled if there are:[269]

  • 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.[269]

European Union[edit]

Number of firearms in population of EU countries – per 100 people.

Historically and legally EU member states have their own laws which differ from one country to another which led to differences in the extent of legal access to firearms among EU countries.

EU harmonization started in 1991, with European Directive No. 91/477/EC which set minimum standards regarding civilian firearms acquisition and possession that EU member states must implement into their national legal systems. In this text, firearms are considered as any portable barrelled weapon that expels, is designed to expel or may be converted to expel a shot, bullet or projectile by the action of a combustible propellant. [270]

Since 2017 EU directive amendment, arms are classified in three EU categories:

  • Category A – Prohibited firearms: including for instance explosive military missiles and launchers, automatic firearms, firearms disguised as other objects, or ammunition with penetrating, explosive or incendiary projectiles, and the projectiles for such ammunition, or semi-automatic firearms;
  • Category B – Firearms subject to authorization, including for instance various kind of repeating and semi-automatic long firearms, but excluding those which belongs to category A
  • Category C – Firearms and weapons subject to declaration, including various kind of long firearms with, but excluding those which belongs to category A or B[271]
  • Category D existing previously (Other firearms) is deleted

This classification relies on short firearms having a barrel not exceeding 30 centimeters or whose overall length does not exceed 60 centimeters.[271]

Under article 5 of the directive:

Without prejudice to Article 3, Member States shall permit the acquisition and possession of firearms only by persons who have good cause and who:

  • (a) are at least 18 years of age, (...)
  • (b) are not likely to be a danger to themselves or others, to public order or to public safety; the fact of having been convicted of a violent intentional crime shall be considered as indicative of such danger.


Member states are free to adopt more stringent rules, according to article 3.

UN trend in EU[edit]

EU plans related to firearms is in line with the UN Firearms Protocol (117 states parties in 2019).[272] This UN protocol existing since 2005 tighten regulations on the manufacture and trafficking of small firearms, like handguns and pistols. This relies on three main legal measures: criminalizing illicit trafficking of firearms; authorizing or licensing legitimate manufacturers and vendors; and establishing marking and recording for tracing firearms.[273]

Most, but not all, EU member states have ratified the UN Firearms Protocol.

Opinions inside the EU[edit]

Few people own firearms in the EU. Those who own firearms are more likely to be against stricter regulation than those who do not own firearms. Most EU citizens believe the EU should address the issue of firearms, in co-operation with member states and neighborhood countries.

Most EU citizens believe stricter regulation would help to reduce the perceived firearms-related crime while a sizeable minority would prefer other methods to be used. Harmonization of EU-wide common standards related to some aspects of the owning, buying and selling firearms, benefits of a strong support.[273]


Austria is the only country in the European Union where firearms are only partially licensed; the Waffengesetz (Weapons Act) provides the legal terms for all types of weapons, including firearms.[274] § 1 of the law defines Weapons as objects that are designed to directly eliminate or reduce the ability of people to attack or defend themselves (e.g. knives, pepper spray, gas pistols, etc.) or for firing projectiles during hunting or sport shooting (e.g. crossbows, bows, etc.). § 2 further defines Firearms as weapons where projectiles can be fired from a barrel in a predefined direction. Most common firearms and some other weapons fall into three different categories, which come with different restrictions:

Category A is divided in two subcategories "war material" and "restricted weapons". "War material" includes for example tanks, fully automatic weapons and armor-piercing weapons; "restricted weapons" includes weapons disguised as other objects, firearms which can be disassembled in a faster than usual fashion for hunting and sport, shotguns with an overall length of less than 90 cm (35 in) or barrel length shorter than 45 cm (18 in), pump action shotguns, suppressors and firearms with suppressors, knuckledusters, blackjacks, steel rods. Category B covers all handguns, repeating shotguns and semi-automatic weapons which are not category A (e.g. pistols, revolvers, semi-automatic rifles and semi-automatic shotguns). Category C includes most other firearms that are not category A or B (e.g. repeating rifles, revolving rifles, break-action rifles and break-action shotguns).

All firearms of category A, B and C are registered in the central weapon register (Zentrales Waffenregister, or short ZWR). Firearms of category C are the least restricted; all citizens over 18 may purchase them at licensed sellers, even without a firearms license (barring a 3-day waiting period to check for a weapon ban on the buyer). Category B weapons have further restrictions; buyers must have a firearms license or a carry permit, and be 21, unless granted an exception for the age of 18. Category A weapons typically require further exceptions to be granted for holders, except in the case of suppressors and suppressed weapons, which may be held by those with valid hunting licenses without an additional permit. "War material" requires a further special federal permit, which is in practice only granted to approved collectors and experts.[275] In general, ammunition sales are unrestricted, though handgun ammunition and some rifle ammunition requires a permit. Antique firearms made before 1871, many black powder firearms and some other "less effective weapons" also require no license or registration.

In addition, § 11a defines further restrictions on the purchase, possession and carrying of all weapons and ammunition for asylum seekers and many third-country nationals. Owning weapons without a permit for them is strictly prohibited and controlled by the police.[276]

Carrying firearms in public generally requires a carry permit (or "Waffenpass"). Carry permits are issued by the authorities on a shall issue or may issue basis, depending on reason and applicant. Austrian law makes no distinction between concealed or open carry; with a carry permit, the holder may carry their weapon(s) freely throughout the whole country and even in certain "weapon free zones".[277][278] However, holders must carry their weapons in a way that does not constitute a public nuisance; for example, openly displaying a handgun in one's belt at the cinema while wearing civil clothing would be considered unusual and could be considered a public nuisance if the police were called.[279]


Croatia issues firearms permits for self-defense, hunting, sport shooting:

  • Hunting permits require a certificate indicating successfully passing the hunting exam;
  • Sporting permits require a certificate issued by a target shooting organization on active membership;
  • Self-defense permits require a certificate on capability to hold, carry and properly use weapons, issued by a competent authority of the Ministry of the Interior designated by the Minister of the Interior.

Every permit also requires an applicant to be at least 18 years old, not be convicted of crimes, there being no other circumstances indicating that the weapon may be abused (for example by a history of alcoholism) and passing medical examinations.

There are 266,885 (or 6.4 per 100 people) registered firearms in Croatia owned by 103,903 people, of which 132,131 can be carried concealed in public places.[280]


The Republic of Cyprus has strict gun control. Private citizens are completely forbidden from owning handguns and rifles in any calibre, including .22 rimfire ammunition. 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 being recorded. Cyprus also controls airguns, and airgun owners require a license. Even though purchasing automatic weapons is illegal, the military issues their reserves an automatic weapon, therefore the majority of the male population has one due to military conscription.[281]

Czech Republic[edit]

The Czech Republic is unusual in comparison to other EU countries in that the vast majority of gun owners (240,000 out of 300,000) possess their firearms for purposes of protection of life and property. 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 use (bullet-in-chamber). The Czech Republic had a higher rate of concealed carry licenses per capita than the US up to 2010, despite a relatively lower gun-ownership rate.

Gun licenses may be obtained by passing a gun proficiency exam, medical examination and having a clean criminal record. Although the general firearms ownership rate remains relatively low, the ability to legally possess and carry firearms is generally considered as a symbol of liberty, alongside concepts such as freedom of speech and free elections. This is illustrated by the Czech Republic's historical experience of firearm bans that happened only 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 2016 EU Directive (see above), which led to the proposal of securing Czech citizens' gun rights through adoption of a constitutional amendment that would make firearm 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 in the Czech Parliament. The Czech government filed a lawsuit to the European Court of Justice against the EU directive restricting possession of firearms.[282] In October 2017 a petition against the EU Firearms Directive signed by over 100,000 citizens was debated during a public hearing in the Senate.

In February 2018, the Ministry of the Interior proposed an amendment to the current Weapons and ammunition law to comply with the EU directive. The process of approving the law was suspended in Parliament until a decision by the European Court of Justice was made. Meanwhile, in January 2019, the Ministry of the Interior unveiled a draft proposal for a completely new Firearms Act that would comply with the requirements of the EU directive while respecting the tradition of civilian firearm ownership in the country.[283]


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 new weapon purchases through an online form. Bolt-action rifles can also be bought over-the-counter, although they require a rifle license which is obtained through the police. The allowed calibers range from the smallest possible, up to .50 BMG, with .50 BMG not included. Semi-automatic rifles are allowed if the rifle is limited to two rounds (hunting in Denmark), or without limitation on capacity (hunting outside of Denmark). Currently, only larger calibers (.308, 6.5 × 55, .300wm etc.) are issued as semi-auto rifles for hunting abroad. .223/5.56 × 45 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 also be used, 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 × 55 mm. Semi-automatic rifles are not allowed for sports shooting.

Handguns: After two years of active membership in a shooting club, one can apply for a handgun permit which is then subject to background checks and approval by the police, and one has to be 21 years old. Approved calibers: All calibers under 9mm (9 × 19, 38 Spl, 357 magnum, .32acp etc.), plus a limited number of larger calibers; .40sw, 45 ACP, 44 Spl. The maximum number of handguns are 6 in 22 cal. When applying for gun number 3, a special permit from the department of justice is required. Large caliber guns, i.e. bigger than 22 cal, are restricted to a maximum of two in the same caliber. Therefore, one can only own two handguns in 9 mm at any given time. However, it is legal to own an additional two handguns in 9 mm, if these are revolvers. For all handguns, the overall length must be at least 210 millimeters (8.2677 inch), regardless of caliber, measured without orthopedic grips or removal parts.

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

Carrying a firearm in public is strictly prohibited, however, a notion of proportional self-defense exists. This means that if someone is attacked with a firearm, they are legally allowed to defend themselves 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 residences.[284] These, together with its ammunition have to be stored in an approved gun cabinet (EN1143-1 grade 0 or better).[285] The police may inspect a shooting club's weapons at their discretion, but require a court order to inspect privately held firearms.[286]


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 licensing. 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 2007, Finland had the third largest gun-ownership rate globally (behind the US and Yemen),[287] and the first in Europe.[288] Finns are avid hunters, and as of 2007, there were 1.6 million registered weapons and 650,000 people with firearm permits in the country, i.e. 12% of the population. In November that year, Finland updated their gun laws after two school shootings that left 20 people dead,[289] and to comply with an EU directive by removing the ability of 15-18-year-olds to have their own permit. The possibility of creating a dual-license for an already licensed weapon with permission of the license holder was allowed (e.g. parental permission). 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 group for two years prior.[290]


In 1563, Charles IX of France had an address to the Rouen parliament about forbidding firearms in which he made the following statement:

Old French English

D'auantage cõsiderant que les meurtres, volleries, assassinats, & autres entreprinfes, qui troublent le commun repos de nosdicts fubects, s'exercent plus par les armes à feu, que nuls aultres : Défendons trefeftroictement sur mefmes peines à toutes personnes, de quelque estat, dignité & qualité qu'ils soyent, porter ne faire porter par leurs gens & seruiteurs dedans les villes, ne par les champs, aucune hacquebute, pistolle ne pistolet, ne d'icelles tirer: sinon (...).[291]

Considering murders, robberies, killings & other enterprises, which disturb regular rest of ours subjects, are more exercised by firearms than any others: We forbid very strictly with same punishment for everybody, of any state, dignity & quality they are, to carry or make carry by their people & servitors neither within any town, nor in the countryside, any hacquebute, pistol nor pistolet, nor to use them: except (...)

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.[292] Category C firearms can be obtained with a hunting license, or sport-shooting license with a 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 felony convictions, and additionally requires at least three shooting sessions with an instructor. Specific authorisations for purchase and possession may then be sought from a local police administration, are valid for 5 years, and are renewable. Such weapons 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 weapons even when chambered for rimfire cartridges (.22 LR). These must be semi-automatic only. All handguns, including those using rimfire ammunition, 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).[clarification needed] 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 are category D defensive pepper sprays up to a maximum 75 g capacity. Bigger capacity sprays are considered offensive weapons, not defensive, and so are classed in category B, and require 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 them to carry a handgun with 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 weapons whilst off-duty.


Gun ownership in Germany is restrictive, being regulated by the Federal Weapons Act (German: Waffengesetz) of 1972.[293] 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 justify a reason 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 carrying 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 the 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 crimes of any kind is punishable by 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.[294]


Greece has gun regulations in place. Shotguns (limited to a 3-round capacity), rifles and handguns require a license issued by Police Headquarters. A license may be issued to a Greek citizen over the age of 18 if: a) there are serious fears about his or her personal security along with a positive recommendation by the Prosecutor and b) it is required for the safety of shops, banks, other financial institutions, etc. 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 rifles (with no gun barrel rifling) and sport shooters can own up to 7 guns. There is no license-check or record kept for ammunition purchases for shotguns but target shooters can only own 500 rounds per weapon.[295]


Gun laws in Hungary are relatively strict, regulated by Code 24/2004,[296] governmental decision 253/2004. (VIII. 31.) and directive of the Minister of Internal Affairs 49/2004. The law defines a firearm as having muzzle energy that exceeds7.5 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, and have passed a basic firearms theory/practical examination. Three categories of firearms ownership are allowed: Hunting (Firearms restricted to bolt action and double barrel shotguns), Sports shooting (only restriction is no fully automatic firearms), Self defence (Special permission from Police, very rarely granted in special cases e.g.: gunshop owners). Sports shooting has in recent years gained popularity with the number of sports category licenses being issued steadily climbing. Government initiatives to popularize shooting sports such as building shooting ranges and introducing shooting as a sport in the schooling system has slowly begun. It is generally excepted that obtaining (and keeping) a firearms permit is a slow and somewhat costly process, but once a permit is granted and the necessary yearly memberships are paid, yearly doctors certificates are obtained and the mandatory 2–3 sporting events are attended (for sports shooter) ownership is fairly liberal as to the type of firearm one can own.

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. Gun violence is very rare in Hungary due to the close monitoring and control of firearms ownership. Crime with firearms are very rare and this statistic usually includes crimes committed with non-lethal "pepper spray" guns. Police use lethal force with a firearm less than 10 times per year, on average.[297]


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,[298] which was amended by several following acts in 1964,[299] 1968,[300] 1971,[301] 1990,[302] 1998[303] and 2000.[304] 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).[305] However, the Criminal Justice Act 2006,[306] contained a rewriting almost 80% of the Firearms Act. It was quickly followed by amendments in 2007[307] and further major amendments in 2009,[308] 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, and 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, eight historical firearms (manufactured before 1890) and an unlimited quantity of smooth bore muzzle-loading firearms built as per a project made before than 1890. The last can be purchased without permission o r declaration in a authorized firearm shop by everyone who can prove to be at least 18 year, carry of such weapon is forbidden and no declaration is required (Art. 7 c.4 DM 362/2001 [309]). 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 Luxembourg, anyone wishing to purchase, possess or use a firearm must hold a permit issued by the Minister of Justice in person.[310]

The most common reasons for applying for a permit are hunting, recreational shooting, weapons collecting, and inheriting a firearm. Anyone who inherits a firearm must have a permit even if they have no intention to ever touch or use the gun.[310]

Self-defence is not a valid reason for owning a firearm. However, the Ministry of Justice is concerned that some permit holders falsely cite another reason (such as recreational shooting) as a justification for acquiring their permit when their sole actual motivation is self-defence.[311]


Firearms are allowed in Malta for sport shooting, collection and hunting purposes. To get firearm license one must join a shooting or collectors club for training, which will issue a recommendation letter for the police, after which applicant must pass knowledge of firearm safety and the Arms Act. After successfully completing every step one will get license.

There are 102,610 registered firearms (or 22 per 100 people), including 56,000 shotguns, 10,553 pistols, 7,856 rifles, 5,369 revolvers, 501 machine guns, 477 sub-machine guns, 633 combat shotguns, 22 cannons, 7 humane killers and 2 rocket launchers.

Law allow carrying firearms while hunting, with 10,544 licensed to do so on land and 247 on sea.[69] Carrying loaded firearms outside of hunting grounds or shooting range is illegal. Automatic firearms are allowed only if they were produced before 1946.


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.[312]


Gun ownership in Poland is regulated and requires a permit to own or possess firearms. Permits are granted for specific purposes, such as self-defense, sports, hunting, collecting etc. and shall issue except the ones for self-defense, which may issue. Institutional permits allow for firearm ownership by security companies, shooting ranges, sports clubs etc.

Permits are issued to permanent residents over 21, not addicted to alcohol or other substances, having no criminal record, being in good physical and mental health, who passed an exam before sporting association, hunting association or the police. Permits specify the purposes, categories and quantities of allowed guns; categories depend on permit type while quantities are assigned at the discretion of the police, based on documentation provided. Quantities can be increased when one uses up all available slots.

Carrying loaded guns is allowed on self-defense and sports permits. Guns shall be carried concealed in a holster close to the body. Carrying is limited in public transport only to self-defense permit holders. It is prohibited to carry while intoxicated, and when attending public gatherings or mass events.

All legal owners are allowed to use their guns at registered shooting ranges. Discharging a firearm for training or leisure out of a registered shooting range (even on a large private property) is prohibited.

Full-auto or select-fire firearms are permitted only on institutional and training permits. Since 2020 police can issue permit for firearms with silencers for hunting permits, but only to be used for sanitary shootings, see main article for more details. Armor-piercing, incendiary, tracer and other special ammunition is banned. Only valid permit holders are allowed to buy or possess live ammunition, and only of the types exactly matching the guns they legally own. The quantity of matching ammunition in possession is not limited. Hunters, collectors and sports shooters are allowed to manufacture (reload) ammunition, but strictly for their own use. There are further limits regarding allowed types and calibers depending on the type of permit – see main article for details. There's no limit on magazine capacity, except when hunting.

Replicas of black powder firearms designed before 1885 require no permit to own. However, separate bill of law allows businesses to sell black powder to licensed customers only. This is often circumvented by obtaining a European Gun Card for your black powder firearm, asking a licensed colleague (there's no restriction on private sale or just giving out of black powder) or by buying powder in neighboring countries, mostly the Czech Republic.

Airguns up to 17 Joules of muzzle energy are unregulated. Airguns above that limit are considered pneumatic weapons, no permit is required but must be registered with the police and may be used only on registered shooting ranges. Use of pneumatic weapons outside of shooting range is considered the same kind of offense as using regular firearms.

Poland remains the most disarmed country in Europe.


Gun ownership in Romania is regulated by Law 295/2004. Romania has one of the toughest gun ownership laws in the world.[313] 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 and daggers may in certain conditions (blade longer than 15 cm and at least 0.4 cm in width, double edge along the whole blade, etc.) be 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.[314]

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.[315]

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"[316]

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.[317]
The use of guns for self-defense is only allowed if the gun is a last resort option.[318]


Gun ownership in Slovakia is regulated principally by law 190/2003 (law of weapons and ammunition).[319] A firearms license may be issued to an applicant at least 21 years of age (18 years for category D if they own a 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.[320]

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.[321][322][323]

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).[324]


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.[104][105][325]


Gun ownership in Sweden is regulated by Vapenlagen 1996:67 (literally, The Weapon Law),[326] modified by weapon decree Vapenförordningen 1996:70[327] and FAP 551-3 / RPSFS 2009:13.[328] The police issue licenses to persons older than 18 years in good standing on the "need to have" basis, which generally implies either hunting or sport shooting. Passing a hunting examination or membership in an approved sport shooting club for six months is required. Licenses for semi-automatic handguns are issued for five years and can be renewed, rifle and single-shot handgun licenses are valid for the owner's lifetime. License-holders may lend a weapon to a person at least 15 years of age for supervised use.

A separate license is required for each particular firearm, caliber conversion kit or suppressor. There's no codified limit on the number of licenses a person can hold, but in practice 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 hunting may be used for sport shooting, but not vice versa. Licenses obtained for hunting are implicitly limited to bolt-action or, more rarely, semi-automatic rifles that are "applicable for hunting", with no strict definition of the latter in the laws, which causes controversy.[329]

Self-defense with firearms, as well as carry, is generally prohibited. Carry permits can be issued by the police under very special circumstances like an immediate and proven life threat. Transportation of unloaded firearms is allowed to and from approved shooting ranges or hunting grounds.

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.[330]

United Kingdom[edit]

The UK increased firearm regulation through several Firearms Acts,[331] leading to an outright ban on automatic firearms and many semi-automatic firearms. Breech-loading handguns are also tightly controlled.[332] There are three types of weapons that require different licenses; section 2 firearms are shotguns with a maximum magazine capacity of two cartridges, excluding those in the chamber, and require a Shotgun Certificate (SGC); unlike the other licences, the onus is on the police to find good reason not to grant applicants a license. Section 1 firearms require a firearms certificate (FAC), and include bolt-action rifles, semi-automatic rifles in rimfire only, and all shotguns that do not conform to section 2 requirements. There are additional requirements for both sections, such as length and ammunition type, and some accessories such as suppressors are also subject to licensing restrictions. All firearms and accessories that do not conform to section 1 or 2 requirements are designated as prohibited weapons and require a section 5 license from the Home Office for legal possession.[333]

An SGC allows the holder to purchase and own any number of shotguns, so long as they can be securely stored, and does not restrict purchase or storage of ammunition; additionally they may legally give shotgun ammunition to non-licence holders. Section 2 and 5 weapons require individual permission for each firearm or accessory, and there are restrictions as to the type and quantity of ammunition held.[333][334] Aside from Northern Ireland, private ownership of most handguns was banned in 1997, with exception for section 5 firearms licenses, which are only generally issued to maritime security personnel, and those under police protection.

There are several factors that may disqualify applicants. A custodial sentence of between three months and three years disqualifies applicants for five years from release; three years or greater disqualifies applicants for life. "Intemperate habits", such as substance abuse, may disqualify applicants. Being of "unsound mind", meaning a history of mental illness, or other relevant medical conditions may disqualify applicants, however there are no conditions that "make them automatically unsuitable to possess a firearm", and police will contact the applicant's general practitioner, who place a flag on the records of all license holders.[333] Applicants must also have suitable measures for storing firearms and ammunition, such as a gun safe. 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.


Firearms are completely prohibited for civilian use without exceptions in Nauru, Palau and Marshall Islands. Fiji suspended all firearm licenses in 2000, Cook Islands and Solomon Islands did the same respectively in 1999 and 1992. Papua New Guinea does not issue new licenses since 2000, but former are still valid. Kiribati effectively made it impossible to obtain new firearms by banning import of them.[28]


Gun laws in Australia are under the jurisdiction of the state governments, with the importation of guns regulated by the federal government. Gun laws were largely aligned in 1996 by the National Firearms Agreement. In two federally funded gun buybacks and voluntary surrenders and state governments' gun amnesties before and after the Port Arthur Massacre, more than a million firearms were collected and destroyed, possibly one third of the national stock.[335]

A person must have a firearm licence to possess or use a firearm. Licence holders must demonstrate a "genuine reason" (which does not include self-defence) for holding a firearm licence and must not be a "prohibited person".[336] All firearms must be registered by serial number to the owner, who must also hold a firearms licence.[337]

New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand's gun laws 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,[338] for which the NZ Police policy is to exclude self-defense, however this is not written in the Arms Act or supporting regulations.[339]

Handguns, machine guns, or selective-fire assault rifles 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.

After the Christchurch mosque shootings in 2019, legislation to restrict semi-automatic firearms and magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, and provide an amnesty and buyback of such weapons was introduced and passed by the New Zealand parliament.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Up to life imprisonment if caught using it for murder.
  2. ^ Must be carried in a way without public nuisance,
    unusual in civil clothing
  3. ^ Shall issue for every citizen who is proving existence of credible threat;
    shall issue for citizens working as police personal, military police personal or prison guard personal, even after retirement;
    may issue (but nearly always granted) for e.g. armored car drivers, bodyguards or similar security staff, private investigators, supervisory hunters and similar persons;
    may issue - restricted for e.g. taxi drivers
  4. ^ Exceptions include category C (rifles) for members of traditional rifle clubs during ceremonial occasions and preparatory exercise for such occasions[6]
  5. ^ Special federal permit required - in practice only approved collectors, authorized experts, special licensed gunsmiths or similar persons, rarely issued
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ limited to 100 rounds of each registered firearm. Hunting and sports licenses limited to 2000 rounds, 3000 for those with a transport license for each registered firearm. All ammunition sales must be registered.
  8. ^ Due to reserve military, many people have G3A3/G3A4.
  9. ^ Municipal Police/Czech National Bank Security
  10. ^ Subject to may issue police permit ("exemption") – private citizens only for collecting purposes, rarely issued
  11. ^ Special cases specified by penal code, include committing the crime of illicit firearm possession as part of organized group, in "bigger extent" (many firearms) or during state of war or other emergency
  12. ^ Bolt-action rifles unlimited. Semiauto rifles restricted to 2 rounds.
  13. ^ Special permit required, for collection, museum display, filming or other specified reason at discretion of authorities (section 44.)
  14. ^ necessity, i.e. genuine reason (sport shooting/hunting/collecting/danger to life) to own a gun needed
  15. ^ genuine reason to own a gun needed
  16. ^ Public display of weapons banned in 2000, ban mostly not enforced
  17. ^ For historical re-enactments (only blank-firing guns), training and protection of persons and property purposes
  18. ^ a b Handguns only
  19. ^ Except for shall issue section 2 shotguns, which are limited to 3 rounds (2+1)). Shotguns that fall under may issue section 1 are not limited
  20. ^ 5 years minimum and up to 10 years maximum for section 5 prohibited firearms. No minimum and up to 5 years maximum for any other non-prohibited but unlicensed firearms


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