How many countries completely prohibit civilian firearm ownership?

As a non-American firearms historian and enthusiast, I frequently hear people say things like “Guns are banned in the UK” or “I heard guns were banned in Australia” or similar nonsense. One of the options on the recent “Do you own a gun?” thread was “No, because guns are banned where I live.”

Yet I’m not aware of any countries (besides African dictatorships, China, Taiwan, and probably North Korea) where the ownership of firearms by civilians is completely verboten under all circumstances, no exceptions.

Note that I’m talking about prohibited. Severe restrictions (such as in the UK and Australia) don’t count, since it’s still possible for an “average person” to legally acquire a firearms licence and firearms in those places, subject to various restrictions.

So, with that in mind, are there any countries in which firearms ownership by civilians is completely prohibited?

I suspect this thread will degenerate into quibbling about just how severe a level of restriction constitutes prohibition. I suspect that there isn’t a country in the world where besides police and soliders literally nobody gets to have guns. The top politicos themselves? Their private bodyguards? Bank guards? Local animal control officers with varmit guns? Diamond couriers?

Perhaps a more enlightening standard would be in how many countries firearm ownership is “may issue”; that is, the government can flatly deny any particular application to own a firearm, without explanation or appeal.

For the purposes of the OP, the standard is an “Average Member Of The Public”. So let’s say Fred Bloggs, who works in a perfectly normal job and isn’t a member of any extremist or criminal groups, wants to acquire a firearms licence and a firearm for a completely legal purpose- say, target shooting or hunting. (Let’s leave “Self-Defence” out of this, OK? It makes things far too complicated for the purposes of this discussion.)

Are there any countries in which is is impossible for an Average Member Of The Public to legally acquire a firearm without becoming something like Forest Ranger or Police Officer

That’s not quite what I’m getting at in the OP though. There’s a popular perception that guns are “banned” pretty much everywhere that isn’t the US. I’ve heard the assertion so often that it’s not funny, and I’ve heard it on these boards. In the other thread I twice asked for people to name a single country besides China where legal civilian gun ownership was completely banned in all circumstances and no-one acknowledged the question. So it gets its own thread.

Just to clarify, for the purposes of this thread, restrictions on gun types (eg semi-automatic rifles, handguns), calibres, features of guns, etc DO NOT count as “banned”, and requirements to obtain a firearms licence, be a member of a shooting club/organisation, and/or observe safe storage requirements in the licensee’s home are not considered “unreasonable.”

As long as an “average” person can legally acquire, at a minimum, (say) a double-barrelled shotgun (of the type used for clay pigeon shooting or hunting) or a single-shot .22 rifle, then for the purposes of this OP guns are not “banned” in that country.

So, with that in mind, are there any countries (not already mentioned) in which an “average” person cannot legally acquire a firearm?

This appears to be the case in South Korea (wiki goes so far as to claim possession is a “capital offense”) but I haven’t been able to come up with a good cite.

According to the site of the justice department of the netherlands (it is in dutch, so I won’t link) all weapon possesion is forbidden (litteraly the word ‘verboden’) with the exception of antiques (if you get a licence for them). There are some ways in which you can get a license for sport shooting and hunting, but these are severly restricted and might include that you can’t keep them in your house (even if you have a safe). How this is done eaxactly isn’t reaaly explained.

The main point is that it is forbidden (mentioned a couple of times) and any information on how to get some of these restrictions lifted can only be gotten by contacting soemeone through the phoen or e-mail (note that this seems to be a personalized e-mail adress, so there is just one person dealing with it for the whole country).

On a further note, other weapons are forbidden as well; such as, arrows, stilletos, or toys that closely resemble actual weapons (!!).

Actually, in many countries the people most likely to have a gun would be “none of the above:” it would be hunters.

Interestingly, here in Israel self-defense is considered a perfectly legitimate purpose, while hunting licenses are very hard to get - and shotguns are almost unheard of.

Of course, it’s still a lot harder to get a license for a pistol here than it is in most parts of the U.S.

[quote=“footballisplayedwithyourfeet, post:5, topic:521150”]

According to the site of the justice department of the netherlands (it is in dutch, so I won’t link) all weapon possesion is forbidden (litteraly the word ‘verboden’) with the exception of antiques (if you get a licence for them). There are some ways in which you can get a license for sport shooting and hunting, but these are severly restricted and might include that you can’t keep them in your house (even if you have a safe). How this is done eaxactly isn’t reaaly explained.


Well in Pakistan about 35 years ago, long before the place went to hell, my father would have to go to the police station to pick up his hunting rifle, file some kind of trip itinerary there, go hunting and bring it back at the end of the day or two. All non-Muslims had their guns confiscated during some war or war scare, apparently.

Even my uncle who was in the Army/Air Force for 30 years had to turn in his service revolver at the time of his retirement. He was a doctor, but was still required to take firearms training regularly. But once he retired he was back to being a regular non-Muslim and no guns for you, sir.

They are very restricted but you can get guns here. Most farmers would have one for vermin etc. and clay pigeon shooters and the like would also have licences.

You can store them in your house in a gun safe but they have to be in a broken state and not loaded.

I’d say this is the norm for most European countries that restrict gun owmership strongly.

ETA: The police inspect you and your house/safe etc. before any licence is issued.

The Netherlands seems to be roughly the same as here.

If the question were “why don’t you own guns?” then the reply “because guns are banned” is pretty much optimal in the UK. It answers a short, general question succinctly and broadly accurately, communicating the most important piece of information which the respondant thinks you might not know. They are assuming that you already know that they wouldn’t want to own a gun, since hardly anyone does. Which leaves “it’s illegal”.

A few people own shotguns for clay pigeon shooting. We could call them ‘firearms enthusiasts’ but that might mislead readers of an American forum. They like clay pigeon shooting and therefore have a gun for that, and for that alone.

Soldiers are issued weapons and ammunition on active service and for some training. A few policemen are armed routinely, a few more are armed when they respond to calls for armed police (not a routine request).

I think there are some target shooting clubs which hold target guns for their members to use on the premises. I can’t imagine it’s popular and haven’t ever cared what the restrictions are, though it is safe to assume that they are stringent. I hope the guns have to stay at the club at all times.

A few rich people occasionaly use shotguns to shoot game birds. A very few astonishingly rich people very occasionally use rifles to shoot deer on private estates.

A fair proportion of farmers have shotguns to kill vermin and might “hunt” a rabbit or hare now and again. Or shoot their own game birds or wild game, on their own land, taking extreme caution to avoid ramblers.

A few criminals have guns. They generally do their best not to shoot anyone who isn’t another criminal. Shooting non-criminals is considered a very serious breach of etiquette which brings universal opprobrium and a concerted police response.

No one owns a gun ‘because I like guns’. That would fail the licensing regime.

But hey, if you want to get legalistic, then the strictly correct and 100% accurate answer is indeed “because I’m not some sort of weirdo with a gun fetish, obviously. I mean, what sort of idiot question is that anyhow?” *

  • I acknowledge that in some jurisdictions owning a gun does not imply you are a weirdo with a gun fetish. In the UK, unless you are a farmer, soldier, armed policeman, criminal or there were unlikely circumstances where you became involved with a seriously unusual minority hobby, then it does.

But those are two completely different reasons. “I don’t drive at 200km/h because there’s no way my car can go that far except falling off the ass-end of a flying Hercules,” “I don’t drive at 200km/h because it’s against the law” and “I don’t drive at 200km/h because I don’t see any reason to do it” are different things.

If people are indeed saying “I don’t own a gun because it’s illegal” when they have no interest in owning one, they’re misrepresenting both their intentions and, possibly, the legal situation. It makes it sounds as if they would own guns if they legally could.

I know a couple of people who own guns “because they like them.” They’re called “arms collectors.”

Wow, that’s a lot of restrictions and frames the debate so narrowly as to make it irrelevant in the minds of a lot of people. If the US said that you were allowed to speak out on a political topic provided you had a master’s degree, a free speech permit, you did it in your home where nobody could hear you, and under a blanket would the statement “The United States bans free speech” be subject to such nuances?

I know that it is your thread, but the general idea is that if you can’t keep a gun in a manner similar to the way one is accustomed to in the US, then it could be considered a de facto ban.

If the question was handgun rather than shotgun then the answer is easy.

Yes, in Ireland there is a ban on a average person getting a handgun of any type.

Also applies in mainland Britain

Is that a new state of affairs post-Dunblane? We had gun ranges at two of the three public schools I attended, which were well-stocked with small-calibre, single-round bolt-action rifles (.22s, I would guess) and had a few larger-calibre weapons (again, single-round only). That was from 1989-1996.

The situation in Canada - which would probably best mirror the US environment, but with government control:

To own a gun you would need and FAC (Firearms Acquisition Certificate). You have to take a mandated Firearms Safety Course. IIRC you need to be 18 or have your guardian take responsibility for you and the firearms. The responsible adult must be around when a minor has/uses a firearm. The course is a day or two, usually offered on a weekend.

To own a pistol, you must be a member of a firing range/gun club. When transporting the pistol, it must be going directly to/from range. Detours to go shopping, etc. not allowed.

All guns must be stored unloaded in approved locked cabinets (IIRC steel cabinet is a requirement). If your kid is playing with a gun and draws the attention of authorities (typical “accidents”), you WILL be charged with improper storage of a firearm.

The conservative government promised to abolish the “long gun registry” and is in the process of using a private members’ bill to accomplish this. Politics - because on a private members’ bill the other parties can vote their conscience (ain’t democracy great) instead of toeing the party line.
The usual political divisions don’t apply so the rural MPs of other parties are likely to vote against the registry even though their parties, being urban progressive-based, want stricter controls.

Rural people here, like the USA obviously appreciate the utility of weapons against wildlife and enjoy hunting, while most modern urban sophisticates have the “redneck in a pickup” or “gangsta” image of someone who owns guns. Big cities are especially hostile to gun ownership, and with the plethora of smuggled american weapons, the cities are getting dangerous.

Hunting too has limitations. Usually - You cannot fire from a motorized boat/vehicle, you cannot fire within 500 feet (IIRC) of a road, you cannot carry a loaded weapon in the vehicle, most cities have “no shooting inside city limits” rules. There are also serious safety controls for firing ranges. If you are treaty Indian, you can (usually) shoot almost anything that moves…

IIRC, along with the long gun registry came several interesting restrictions. Everyone in the house needs training or something like it.
Weapons sellers need to verify the FAC of anyone they sell to.
many people say it’s not worth it to pass on your weapons to your children now, unless they’ve been active in the lifestyle too. The general feeling is that when an older owner dies, it’s simpler to turn in the weapons to the police.

The authorities like that. They have a general hositility to the average public defending themselves, because it often results in more problems than it solves. Remember, for self-defence with lethal force you must be in corresponding danger. You cannot simply shoot someone because they are an intruder.

Most restrictions are in response to various notable crimes.
After an episode in Ottawa where some underage teens were firing out the window of their car randomly, you need an FAC to buy ammunition too. (What bureacratic Bozo overlooked that in the original law?)

Stupidity in action - members of the military, even gun instructors, must take the FAC course because there is no recognition for the military training. Sort of like the TSA screening Colin Powell going through the airport…

Mark Lepine in Montreal, with no documented history of mental illness, took a legally acquired firearm into Ecole Polytechnique and went through the classrooms, ordered all the men out of the room and shot all the women before killing himself. Since then, magazines bigger than 5 rounds are banned; so in Canada, triathlon participants must reload halfway through their rounds. (The authorities could find anything else to pick on; it was a .22 not an assualt rifle, legally acquired, no indicator the guy was unstable).

Any domestic turmoil - reports of abuse from spouse, divorce proceedings, etc. will probably hold up any FAC approval indefinitely, as will prior convictions. A decade or so ago, a fellow got a pistol legally and shot his ex-wife and 9 members of her family. The police said he got the FAC and pistol because the wife had complained of abuse, but when pressed to file a formal complaint, she declined.

We see more and more crimes where people are killed for their guns, especially urban enthusiasts with pistols. Making guns hard to get has simply raised the street value so there is an incentive to go after them. The lock-down requirements mean there’s a good chance the person you are stealing from won’t have time to get armed, although most are sneak-theivery.

The Gun Control Debate:
-The basic problem is that about 85% of crimes are committed with unregistered weapons. The other 15% are those unpredictable murder-suicides. (“He wa such a quiet and polite fellow…”) Crooks don’t register guns.
-what good is a gun registry for long guns? You can’t rely on it. (See above point) so even if no weapons are registered, police going to a house have to assume the worst.
-very few crimes are committed with long guns. Those that are, are sawed off, and probably illegally acquired anyway (see first point).
-the border with the USA, despite cooperation with Homeland Security, is very porous and lots of illegal guns cross. The best thing Canada could do is sponsor US gun control laws.
-the long gun registry was a complete waste of money, and encouraged the paranoid among us to become criminals - because all the usual “cold dead hands” proapganda about commies flies around up here too.

So basically, if you are stable and with a stable home life and willing to jump through all the hoops and follow and remember rules, you can buy a gun or 10, but what you can do with them is limited. Pistols are especially difficult but not impossible. All (legal) pistols ARE registered and nobody disputes that.

(IIRC, the difference is in UK it is impossible for the average Joe to own a pistol.)

“Ban” means “Not available at all”. Besides, based on your logic, Deer hunting is “banned” in the US since you have to get “tags” for deer in many places, the magazine capacity is restricted to a certain number of rounds, and you can only hunt at certain times of the year, and you might even have to undertake a hunter’s safety/etiquette/target recognition course to get a hunting permit.

So let’s just not go down that path and focus on the topic of the OP, which is basically “In which countries is it not possible for civilians to legally acquire firearms?” At the moment it’s a very short list, which is quite interesting given the fact people like to decry guns as being “banned” in most places which aren’t the US.

One minor correction to the above poster: cartridge-firing handguns are pretty much verboten in the UK to the average person, but collectors can still get them, and black powder handguns are still legally available too.

Are you saying pistols aren’t used for self defense? What is the usual choice? I’ve seen a picture of a guy in a mikva while another guy watched him with something looking like an M-16.

Pistols - almost always 9mm semi-autos - *are *what most civilians carry for self defense. It’s just that the licensing process is rather draconian: 4-month waiting period, full background checks, a stiff tax and mandatory range-time. Once you have a license, though, there aren’t any limitations regarding “concealed carry” or magazine limits - if you’re trusted with a gun, you’re trusted with a gun.

Automatic weapons are something else. They’re usually not personal property, but rather weapons issued by a settlement’s Security Officer from the town armory. Oddly enough, Israelis tend to see pistols as somehow more dangerous, even “dodgier” than assault rifles or submachine guns.