While gun laws in the U.S. vary widely by state, they are relatively liberal compared to many countries around the world. Here is a list of some of the major countries around the world and their gun laws, listed from those that are less strict to those that are more strict.
1. Switzerland – Switzerland’s gun policies are unique in that able-bodied men between the ages of 20-34 are actually required to have fully automatic firearms in their homes. This is in case the emergency militia needs to be called, as Switzerland has no permanent army. A license is needed to own hunting weapons.
2. Brazil – Brazil has one of the more liberal gun policies. Anyone over the age of 25 may own a gun if it is registered and kept indoors. The country has the second largest arms industry in the Western Hemisphere.
3. Japan – Japan has strict laws regarding firearms licensing, but they are considered a formality. In spite of the liberal nature of the policy, gun deaths in Japan are among the lowest in the world.
4. Czech Republic – The gun laws in the Czech Republic are considered to be more liberal that most European countries. Anyone over the age of 18 who has no criminal record may own a firearm, though certain licenses are only permitted to those aged 21 and up. Citizens may also carry concealed weapons without specifying a reason.
5. Italy – Whlie the Italian Constitution does not recognize the right to bear arms, Italians 18 or older with a clean criminal record can apply for a license. Households can have up to three “common” firearms, six weapons for shooting sports, and an unlimited number of hunting weapons.
6. Germany – Since the Federal Weapons Act of 1972, Germans 18 or older may own a firearm, but they must also pass a test of “trustworthiness, knowledge, and accuracy” and prove necessity. There are three different levels of licenses for non-assault weapons, single shot short and long firearms, and collectors or dealers.
7. Canada – Canada’s laws are far stricter than our own. License applicants much take a safety course, pass a criminal record check and become certified by a firearms officer. For the most part, personal ownership is restricted to recreational and sporting purposes, though they can be acquired for self-defense in rare circumstances.
8. Russia – Adults with no criminal record can apply for a license to own a shotgun or air rifle, but hand guns and fully automatics are prohibited. Self-defense is not considered a necessity for carrying firearms outside the home.
9. Australia – Australians may not own guns unless they have a “genuine reason” such as hunting, target shooting, pest control, or collecting. Licenses may not be obtained for self-defense, but can be legally used for self-defense in certain circumstances.
10. China – Chinese citizens are not allowed to own guns except for hunting or protection from wild animals. If a person is caught illegally selling arms, he/she can face the death penalty.
11. Mexico –Citizens are only allowed to own small pistols, revolvers, and some rifles, and must undergo a criminal record check. There is only one legally authorized retail outlet for firearms in the country, which is located in Mexico City. In spite of the strict laws, there are growing problems with smuggling from both the U.S. and other countries in Central and South America.
12. United Kingdom- The UK is known for having some of the toughest gun laws in the world. Citizens need a license for any firearm other than low-powered air rifles or pistols. They must also have a “good reason” to own the firearm, such as sporting or work-related reasons, and must prove that they will not be a danger to public safety. The majority of British police officers do not carry firearms on standard patrol.
This guest post was written by Gina Holstead. Gina is a retired police officer and keeps up the site Law Enforcement Trainings, which helps new law enforcement students pick the best program.