Which countries can citizens own weapons

How states regulate the handling of weapons

Privately owned weapons are a constant source of discussion due to acts of violence. An overview of how which states deal with the topic.

United States

The right to own a weapon is protected by an amendment to the constitution. The possession of machine guns, grenades and explosive ammunition was already restricted in 1934 and made more difficult with a preliminary investigation by the FBI. In 1968 the sending of weapons by post was restricted and the sale to felons was made illegal.

The legislation is very different in the individual states. The most liberal legislation can be found in Arizona. There you can even choose between a wide range of weapons in a supermarket. All you need to buy is ID and a short background check in the criminal record.

In 2010, the Supreme Court declared the gun ban unconstitutional. Chicago, for example, introduced a ban on handguns 28 years ago. 55 percent of the population do not want any changes to the existing legal situation, which is why initiatives for stricter regulations are very risky for politicians.

European Union

With the help of guidelines, the Union has ensured a uniform basic standard. Two regulations were essential: In 2007 the minimum age for possession of weapons was increased to 18 - the regulation had to be implemented by the member states by 2010. Until then, Finland blocked the initiative. However, after a school rampage in 2007, the Finnish government agreed. In addition, by the end of 2014, category C and D weapons - including various types of rifles and shotguns - must be reported to the dealer and recorded in a register.


Weapons are divided into four categories in Austria. Possession of category A weapons (pump guns, war material) is only permitted with a special permit from the age of 21. Category B weapons (pistols, revolvers) can only be purchased with a weapon possession card, weapon pass and a reason for possession. Weapons of category C and D can be purchased freely, but can only be used with a weapon pass or a hunting license.

This legal situation was negotiated in 1997. On the occasion of the rampage in Mauterndorf, in which a 36-year-old mechanic killed six people, the law was revised and tightened. Between 1997 and 2005, privately owned weapons fell by a quarter and gun murders fell 67 percent.


In general, every citizen exempt from punishment can own weapons and acquire ammunition if ownership is not explicitly regulated. In addition, soldiers can store their weapons personally, but since 2010 only with a gun license after their military service. In 2007, barter ammunition for soldiers for private storage was abolished. However, a legislative proposal to tighten it further was rejected by the people in 2011. With 45.7 weapons per 100 inhabitants, Switzerland ranks fourth internationally.


Due to the rampage in Erfurt in 2002, in which a 19-year-old killed 16 people, the legal situation was revised. Since then, the minimum age for buying a weapon has been 21 years. Pump guns with pistol grip and jumping, dropping, fist and butterfly knives were banned. Anyone under the age of 25 must provide a medical / psychological certificate when purchasing a firearm. In addition, a small gun license must be presented to purchase a blank firing weapon. In Germany there are 30.3 weapons per 100 inhabitants.


In Norway, weapons are mainly purchased privately for sport or hunting. In order to obtain a license to own a hunting weapon, a hunting license must be presented and a course and an examination must be completed. In addition, registration as a member in a hunting register is mandatory. In the case of sport weapons, in addition to a course, you must also train in a club for six months with a weapon from the club before you can apply for a license to own a private weapon. Norway ranks eleventh internationally with 31.2 weapons per 100 inhabitants.


Serbia has a very liberal arms law compared to the rest of Europe. Rifles and shotguns are allowed for all citizens. Handguns are allowed under certain conditions: In general, possession is legal from the age of 18 with a permit. For such a reason it must be explained why a weapon is needed. It also checks the person's background. People with intellectual disabilities or a criminal history will not be granted permission. There are 58.2 weapons per 100 inhabitants in Serbia. This puts the country in second place in an international comparison.

Statistics: Privately Owned Arms

USA ranks first with 88.8 weapons per 100 inhabitants. Serbia follows with 58.2 weapons per 100 inhabitants. Switzerland ranks fourth with 45.7 weapons. Tunisia ranks last with officially 0.1 weapons per 100 inhabitants.