This article is written by Harman Juneja, a student of Dr B.R. Ambedkar National Law University, Rai, Sonepat. The article talks about arms laws in foreign countries and various rules and regulations for the same.


The manufacturing, sale, transfer, possession, modification, and use of small guns by civilians are all governed by gun laws and rules. Some countries’ laws may grant civilians the right to keep and bear guns, and their gun regulations may be more permissive than those in surrounding jurisdictions. Access to firearms is often restricted to particular categories of firearms, followed by restrictions on the types of people who can be granted a licence to possess such firearms. Hunting, sport shooting (often known as target shooting), self-defence, collecting, and concealed weapons may all require various permits, each with its own set of rules, permissions, and duties.

Gun laws are frequently enacted with the goal of minimising the use of small arms in criminal activity by identifying weapons that are thought to be capable of causing the most harm and are the easiest to conceal, such as pistols and other short-barreled weapons. Those under the age of 18 or those with a criminal record may be prohibited from possessing firearms legally. Those deemed most in danger of injuring themselves or others, such as those with a history of domestic violence, alcoholism or substance abuse, mental illness, depression, or attempted suicide, may have their firearm licences rejected.

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Prohibition and restrictions

In addition to the overall advancements in methods of killing, the general rise in violent crimes in the last 20 years, driven by international trade in drugs, repeated acts of terrorism, and publicity about cases of mass murder, has led many countries to reevaluate their regulatory methods to prevent crime and violence among their people. The majority of countries have laws prohibiting the general population from possessing and using specific weapons. Machine guns and fully automatic weapons are frequently included in this category. Assault weapons and silencers are prohibited in some nations. Sawed-off shotguns are prohibited in Canada, whereas pistols and rifles of various sizes are prohibited in Mexico and Turkey.

Restrictions on possession

  • Purchasing and possessing a prohibited firearm usually requires the acquisition of permission, a certificate, or a licence. Every time a firearm is removed from its original location in Canada, China, or Switzerland, separate permission is necessary (usually a home or place of business). Permits to purchase firearms are simplest to obtain for registered hunters, members of shooting organisations, and antique dealers. However, verification of weapons instruction is necessary for Japan, Germany, New Zealand, and the Soviet Union before a licence is issued. 
  • In many nations such as Norway, self-defence is not considered a valid justification to buy a firearm. Due to the precarious circumstances in the region, Israel allows licences for the leader of a settlement, a company owner, and escorts for an outing or camping trip. Some farmers, cashiers at highway petrol stations, captains of ships, and, based on reciprocity, ambassadors and foreign airline workers can receive permits for non-excluded guns in Turkey. 
  • Shotguns and rifles are available to farmers who use them to control pests and to licenced members of shooting clubs in New South Wales, Australia. With the exception of licenced gun collectors, proving the requirement for a semi-automatic weapon is extremely difficult for the general public.
  • For antique weapons and air guns, several countries do not require registration or a permit. Those involved in weapons research and those who compete in international target shooting events are among the people who can receive certificates more easily in Japan. China allows certain confidential liaison officers in the Communist Party, as well as customs personnel and guards in military production plants, radio stations, scientific research units, and various transportation facilities, to obtain firearms if they can show a need; and Mexico allows those who work for the national, state, and local governments to obtain firearms if they can show/prove a need. The Malaysian Ruler and the Ruler’s spouse are exempt from the need for a licence to own guns. 
  • Permits to carry weapons are awarded for periods ranging from three months in Greece to five years in France. A licence for simple possession is usually granted for an indefinite amount of time, but it can be cancelled if the basis for its issue has changed or if the applicant’s status falls into one of the prohibited categories. 

Restrictions on permits

  • Those who desire to acquire, possess, or transport firearms are subject to a number of prohibitions that automatically exclude them from doing so. For those under the age of 18, refusal of permission is automatic. The majority of countries require that the permit holder be at least eighteen years old, with exceptions for hunting and sports competitions. In South Africa, sixteen-year-olds can get a permit to use weapons, and children under the age of sixteen can get a permit to train under the supervision of an adult licence holder. Korea mandates that gun owners be at least twenty years old, while Turkey demands that gun owners be at least twenty-one years old.
  • Those having a history of mental illness, violent behaviour, or a criminal record, especially if the latter includes a conviction involving the use of a firearm, are always barred from carrying firearms. Those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are frequently ruled out. When a defendant is convicted of violating the Gun Control Law or Regulation, or of any other offence involving a firearm, the courts in Sweden are required to notify the police.
  • Those dealing with alcoholics must also tell the police or defence authorities whenever they treat someone who has or is suspected of having a permit to possess a weapon. In the case of patients undergoing mental treatment, hospitals are subject to a similar requirement.
  • The application for a permit in Czechoslovakia must be accompanied by a medical certificate of mental and physical health. Germany, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Sweden, and the Soviet Union all need documents demonstrating sufficient firearms training and safety measures. Additional tests on the weapon’s operation and handling may be required for a hunting gun.
  • In Japan, the homeless are not eligible for a weapons permit, while in Mexico, the applicant must have a stable source of income and have finished his military service. There does not appear to be any requirement for a waiting time. However, in countries like Australia, Canada, Germany, and Japan, testing and background checks are quite stringent, and this is likely to result in a lengthy wait.

Restrictions on production

  • Countries have tried to control the distribution and use of restricted and forbidden firearms by restricting the importation of prohibited weapons, imposing rigorous registration and record-keeping requirements on weapon dealers, and instituting government monopolies in the manufacture of firearms. Certain bans on the import, export, and transportation of firearms without some form of authorisation exist in every country. State governments in India have the authority to give licences for the manufacture of specified weapons.
  • In the Federal Republic of Germany, manufacturers and importers must place an enormous impact on the weapon that identifies the dealer or manufacturer, as well as the type of ammunition required and a serial number. Dealers and producers must keep records of the type and amount of weapons produced, as well as who bought them. Ammunition dealers must also keep track of the materials they purchase and dispose of.
  • Prohibited weapons may also be subject to import constraints on parts of the weapons and the weapons assembled. The permission for import of prohibited weapons and ammunition must be taken. In France, except for arms used in target shootings, or historical weapons or artefacts from collectors, registration procedures are necessary. Armaments dealers also have to be French nationals and all arms purchased or exchanged have to be registered.
  • Firearms are absolutely prohibited from being manufactured for private use in Turkey except the arms industry established by the government to supply the army. Firearms are only allowed to be imported for sport or hunting and only to supply licence holders. Private gun dealers are also forbidden from selling weapons. However, the subsidised government-industry may provide valid licence holders with weapons. The buyers shall get a sales permit from the Governors and the police shall be notified of any sale by the buyer’s identity and gun specifications. In the Netherlands, Nigeria, and numerous other nations, the repair of a weapon requires a separate licence. Furthermore, Nigeria mandates that firearms be fabricated and assembled in a public arsenal or official storehouse alone unless the Police Inspector General gives specific authority to this effect.
  • Only legally registered importers in Argentina can import war weapons. It is necessary to record all transactions with traders and dealers in arms. All operations related to the auction of guns for civilian purposes by pawnbrokers and lending authorities must be recorded and retailers should have correct inventories. Firearms are illegal for production and import except when the law and regulations clearly permit them.
  • All gun makers or traders must be approved by the Mexican Defense Minister. Firearms are strictly a federal monopoly when manufactured and sold in Switzerland. Licenses are necessary for export and import and priority is given to the national interest when armaments are shipped. The Minister of the Interior is responsible for licencing producers and importers of weaponry in Israel.

Offences related to weapons

  • Misuse of guns carries penalties ranging from three months in prison to the death sentence. Carrying a weapon without a licence at the house or place of business is more serious than simply having it. Increasing penalties arise in committing an offence with a firearm, possession with the intention of endangering life or injuring property, as are additional circumstances such as conspiracy or activities against the state, or dealing with forbidden weapons.
  • China is the only country that can sentence someone to death for producing, trading in, exporting, or stealing firearms and ammunition, depending on the severity of the crime and the repercussions. In Switzerland and the United Kingdom, offenders who use weapons in the commission of a crime are sentenced to life in prison, depending on the severity of the offence. For the fabrication or theft of guns or ammunition for revolution or sabotage, China prescribes sentences ranging from three years to live in jail.
  • When firearms are used in a robbery and a person is injured, the death sentence is also possible in Nigeria. Even if no harm is done, anyone attempting or abetting the commission of an offence where a firearm is discharged with the intent to injure faces the death penalty in Malaysia. A person captured with any firearm or ammunition in a secure area without lawful authorisation in this country will face the death penalty.
  • The United Kingdom, Greece, and Mexico have the most lenient penalties for simply possessing firearms without a permit, requiring a minimum of six months in prison. Other countries have penalties ranging from eight months to ten years in jail for possessing forbidden weapons or being charged with a second crime, with additional penalties imposed for possessing prohibited weapons or being charged with a second offence. In Australia (NSW), a parent or guardian is liable for the offence of a child under the age of eighteen if the parent or guardian allowed a kid under the age of eighteen to violate a provision of the Firearms Act.


In the acquisition, possession, use, production, transport, sale, importation and sale of firearms and arms, the primary purpose of most countries is to offer general public protection without impinging on or requiring the legitimate interests of those who use firearms for sport or recreation. It is safe to assume that all countries have some form of firearms regulation, ranging from highly regulated countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Malaysia to less strictly regulated jurisdictions such as Mexico and Switzerland, where the right to bear arms is still regarded as a part of the national heritage.


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