Comparing Gun Laws Around the World

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.

19 thoughts on “Comparing Gun Laws Around the World

  1. Well, some corrections about Russian laws.
    You can own a rifle after 5-year owning of shotgun for hunting reasons. Not more than 10-rd capacity. And not shorter than 800mm (shotguns too).
    And you can carry handguns. But it’s very specific ones. Less-lethal. 2 or 4 rounds with electro ignition. Heavy rubber bullet with metal core. Or “almost pistol” with rubber bullet that weights less than 1gramm.
    Their energy may vary from 80-300 Joules. And it can be carried for self defence. Not very effective, but better than nothing.

  2. 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.

    Err wha…?

    No no no no NO!

    Japan’s laws are EXTREMELY strict. There is NO civilian ownership of handguns permitted, PERIOD. You need a freaking license to own an *air rifle*. No long guns except shotguns, and only for skeet/trap.

    Liberal policy? No sir. Not by a million light years. Canada’s firearm laws are a hundred billion times more liberal than Japan.

    Civilian ownership of firearms in japan is virtually unheard of. There’s a reason airsoft is so huge in japan — because there is simply no sporting alternative.

    Most violent crime in japan is associated with knives, because NOBODY has firearms. Point a gun at someone in japan and they’d laugh at you, thinking it’s an airsoft or kid’s toy or something.

    Japan should be down around 9 or 10. NOT 3.

  3. Brazilian law is VERY strict in gun control. We have caliber limitations (no more then .380 on pistol, no more then .38 on revolver) for handguns, and the only long gun allowed is shotgun (no rifles, except .22 cal).

    To get a license to buy a gun, you have to ask for a clean record document to the courts, and this takes at least one month. Then you have to make a psicological test (70 USD) and pass a course in a gun club (300 USD). After all this trouble, you have to ask the federal police the license (with a genuine reason for the license, and self-defense is not a valid reason).

    If you get the license, you will have to pay 700 USD for the annual licensing, and then buy the gun.

    For a taurus in .380, we pay 1800 USD, and this pistols are made in Brazil.

    Sorry for the bad english.

  4. Malaysia requires some mention too. In Malaysia to own a gun one needs to have at least 15 acres of land, and even then your application is only approved after the Dept.of Agriculture has certified that your crops are prone to wildlife attack. Then again you must be free of any criminal records. If you don’t have land, then you should have large sums of money in your bank account to justify gun ownership. Again you must be free of criminal records. All owners of gun licenses need to have their licenses renewed every year at the nearest police station. I believe Malaysia has one of the strictes gun laws in the world. Criminal gangs acquire their guns from Thailand and the Phillippines.

  5. Whatever. The point is that self defense is a natural right. The untold story is the unarmed victims of all kinds of crime buried by the main stream media. Look it up, or keep lying to yourself if it makes you feel comfortable. Licenses lead to the inevitable knock at the door. The wrong element will always get weapons. And harsh prison sentences for actual violent felons are the solution to crime not giving up your liberty.

  6. Ah really Cheyenne? So what happened with the USA then, according to your reasoning… no licenses (in vast majority of states) and probably the harshest prison sentences in the world (with the highest % age of population behind bars) and your gun crime: off the chart! I think it is YOU that is lying to yourself?

  7. It is okay to murder a citizen under certain occasions like before they are born. It is okay for the DEA to put doctors out of business for prescribing pain killers for folks like myself with degenerative arthritis in every level of their spine.

    But the friendly local heroin dealers go unbothered to bolster the economy! Its okay to incarcerate and murder Border Patrol Agents who become problems to the politicians financed by the drug cartels. We can’t shoot at them, but they can and do hand over light machine guns to their friends to murder innocent women and children who object to the sex slave trade flourishing daily on our borders.

    The only war on anything I see is a war on law abiders who get in the way of all that money that comes out of the walls at election time.

    I say vote with your feet against Obamney Reflublicaratic One Party Rule by the divine right of Kings. Did the Apostle Paul really say it was okay for madmen to chop off his head before the ink on Romans 13 was even dry? When Nathan Hale was executed for treason and espionage he said, “I only regret I have one life to give for my country.” Was that country the United States or was that country Great Britain?

    Ever notice how no matter who gets elected, The Bill Of Rights “That God Damned Piece of Paper!” always turns out to be the REAL problem?

    This message is brought to you by a military historian on the Top Secret With Crypto Capital Hell Most Highly Dangerous Potential Domestic Terrorist List. FYI it was the lapdog liberal Jews who greased the rails for their own destruction and were the first folks exterminated by Hitler, Lenin, And Mao. Do you really think you will be one of the perhaps 500,000,000 human beings that will be allowed to go on living when the United States Of The Atlantic rounds up all the undesirables and march you off to Auschwitz?

  8. I do not hate anyone. Let alone the Jewish carpenter who died in my place. I do detest incredibly brilliant folks who keep making the same mistakes over and over again with their “Let’s all be get alonggers” They have been trying that strategy since the death of King Solomon. What does work is when the say “NEVER AGAIN!” and mean it.

    I am no anti-semite. I am anti-stoopid!

  9. What if I shot you and they hang me for shooting you,tell me what good will that do you.what if you had a gun to protect your self,you would still be a victim,stop crime before they happen,controlling gun violence helps.

  10. seriously gene? ‘stop crime before they happen’? What is this, minority report? Saw how well that worked out for them. It’s impossible…tough word to wrap your head around; it means it is something that will never, ever happen…to control crime before it happens. moron

  11. Since Australia enacted strict gun controls it’s violent crime indices increased dramatically. Assaults rose 49.2% and robbery 6.2%. Sexual assaults (rape)–increased 29.9%. Overall, Australia’s violent crime rate rose 42.2%. At the same time, the U.S. violent crime decreased 31.8%: rape dropped 19.2%; robbery decreased 33.2%; aggravated assault dropped 32.2%. Australian women are now raped over three times as often as American women.

  12. stok on, I’m curious to know if you have a legit citation or link supporting your statistics.. not that I’m calling them into question, but if I was to re-quote your comment, I would like to be sure it was indeed correct.

  13. It’s interesting that genocides have followed firearms prohibition historically! In many of these countries with ‘strict’ gun control laws the criminals have a unbridled access to full automatic firearms thanks to a very profitable black market in firearms! Prohibition doesn’t work it only creates profits for organized crime and better armed criminals who then can prey at will on a disarmed populace! Mexico and Brazil are good examples of this where the criminal gangs and cartels are so well armed they can challenge the police or military forces! Regular citizens don’t stand a chance against these thugs and are regularly victimized! The normal citizenry who is effectively disarmed are subjected to robberies, rapes and murders at the hands of these monsters without any recourse less they break the law and arm themselves! Criminal control, NOT gun control!!!

  14. Well, Canadian firearms laws are stricter than the US, but at least they have now gotten rid of the long-gun registry. You have to do training, and pass some test before being able to own a firearm – something I have no problem with.

  15. It is simple. If people have guns in their homes criminals will be less likely to break into homes due to the risk of losing their life.

  16. Strange isn’t it ? Not one citizen in Japan owns a gun (legally), the handgun murder rate
    is essentially zero. In Syria, there are nearly one million guns in the hands of citizens,
    but the government crackdown has killed over 100,000 innocents. So much for the theory
    that guns in the hands of citizens can protect freedoms from a tyrannical government.
    It just hasn’t happened in Syria, and it would never work in the USA. So much for the Gland of the Tree and the Dome of the Cave.

  17. I don’t care what the rest of the world does. Despite all the media blather, the USA is still a very free nation. And despite the horrifying statistics, if you REALLY look at them, you will see a different story. The violent crime rates in the vast majority of the USA are very low. And in a few places, they are very high. A lot of people who commit suicide do so with firearms, but the Japanese have very few firearms and still have a high suicide rate. The USA does NOT have a “gun problem”, the USA has a CRIMINAL GANG problem. Most of the crimes committed with firearms in the USA are committed by people who aren’t legally allowed to have firearms in the first place due to their criminal activities. And yet, even with all that, the percentage of firearms in private hands that are ever used in a crime is a tiny fraction of the total. There are literally hundreds of millions of firearms in the USA and a few thousand are used in crimes. Look up the numbers for yourself, do the math for yourself, see what the percentage is for yourself. Don’t believe media hype.

  18. Australians are pussies, they have no idea just how insignificant they really are. They think they can save the planet with their carbon tax. What a bunch of liberal idiots, the rest of the world is laughing at you.

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