No doubt, following last week’s shooting there will be a lot of discussion surrounding amendments to U.S. gun laws. Some will argue that stricter gun laws are needed and others will say that gun rights in the U.S. are designed to self-regulate, allowing law-abiding citizens to protect themselves against violent criminals. The following is a short survey listing several countries around the world, that country’s pertinent gun laws, and its homicide rate. The figures are not intended to advocate for one side or the other, merely give and provide some context for how other countries have addressed gun control.
- Population: 199,321,413
- Number of civilian guns: 14,840,000Number of gun deaths: 34,678
- Gun laws: All firearms are required to be registered with the state. The minimum age for ownership is 25 and it is generally illegal to carry firearms outside a residence.
- Population: 22,015,576
- Number of civilian guns: 3,050,000
- Number of gun deaths: 30
- Gun laws: Citizens must demonstrate a “genuine reason” for obtaining firearms. The reasoning is then reviewed by local law enforcement. Licenses must be renewed frequently and expire automatically. Generally, people who reside in urban areas have a hard time fulfilling the “genuine reason” requirement.
- Population: 63,047,162
- Number of civilian guns: 3,680,000
- Number of gun deaths: 41
- Gun laws: Citizens must first receive either a shotgun certificate or a firearm certificate before owning a firearm. In order to receive a shotgun certificate, applicants must satisfy a criminal and medical background check as well as demonstrate that the shotgun can be stored safely. In addition to the shotgun requirements, applicants must satisfy additional requirements to get a “firearm” certificate which would allow them to own handguns and rifles. Applicants must demonstrate a “genuine need” to own the firearm. “Self defense” is not considered a genuine need.
- Population: 65,630,692
- Number of civilian guns: 19,000,000
- Number of gun deaths: 35
- Gun laws: Citizens must have a hunting license or shooting sport license to purchase a firearm. The amount of ammunition someone can buy each year is then limited based on what type of gun they own. Citizens are also limited by the number of firearms they can purchase.
- Population: 1,205,073,612
- Number of civilian guns: 46,000,000
- Number of gun deaths: 3,093
- Gun laws: In order to obtain a firearm, a citizen must demonstrate that there is a “threat to life.” Even if a license is granted, certain calibers of ammunition as well as the type of gun is heavily restricted, with semi-automatic firearms deemed prohibited for civilian ownership.
- Population: 127,368,088
- Number of civilian guns: 710,000
- Number of gun deaths: 11
- Gun laws: Since the 17th century, no Japanese citizen has been allowed to own a firearm or sword without a license. Currently, no Japanese citizen may even hold a firearm without a license. Licenses are only granted to sportsman for hunting and skeet shooting, but only after they undergo a substantial licensing procedure.
- Population: 48,810,427
- Number of civilian guns: 5,950,000
- Number of gun deaths: 8,319
- Gun laws: Civilians are permitted to own a firearm if they can pass a competency test and background check. Additionally, police may inspect the applicant’s home beforehand, but currently law enforcement does not have the time to check every applicant’s home. Most gun deaths are committed with firearms that are not available for civilian purchase.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
- Population: 313,847,465
- Number of civilian guns: 270,000,000
- Number of gun deaths: 9,146
- Gun laws: A constitutional amendment guarantees the right of gun ownership to law abiding citizens. Regulation is enforced by state and federal government. Semi-automatic weapons are available to the public at large provided buyers satisfy background checks. Fully automatic weapons and silencers can be legally purchased by civilians provided they undergo extended licensing procedures, pay sizeable registration fees, and allow law enforcement to inspect the weapon whenever the government deems it necessary.
*Population information from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html.
**Other statistics from UNODC & Small Arms Survey, available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list#data.
Thomas Dunlop is a 2L and a Staff Editor of the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.