National gun laws

The majority of small arms are in the hands of private individuals - worldwide, around 60% of guns are possessed by civilians. There is a strong correlation between firearms ownership and gun death rates, especially for handgun ownership, as handguns are concealable and so commonly used in crime.

In 2006, the UN sub-commission on human rights endorsed principles to prevent human rights abuses by civilians with guns. Many countries regulate:

- types of weapons permitted. For example, prohibiting fully automatic weapons, or semiautomatic rifles. Given their use in crime, some countries also prohibit civilian possession of handguns.

- users of guns. Licensing the users of guns might involve requiring users to prove they have a genuine need of a firearm, also background checks to investigate whether the user is likely to be a risk to themselves or others.

- uses of guns. For example, prohibiting carrying or firing guns in a  public place.

Essential to enforcing the above regulations is firearm registration, linking every weapon to its last legal user and so identifying any point of diversion. This is part of a marking and tracing requirement.

Últimas noticias

The Group for Research and Information on Peace and Security (GRIP) is calling for “deep and fast” reform of the process for arms export licensing in the Walloon region of Belgium . In June 2009 the Walloon Government granted an export licence for 2000 FN 303 anti-riot guns to Libya.

In the first case of its kind in Germany, the father of a teenager who shot dead 15 people and then himself on 11 March 2009 in Winnenden has been given a suspended prison sentence of 21 months, and found guilty of manslaughter and bodily injury.

In Switzerland, a broad coalition of organisations and political parties said they were disappointed but not defeated after a majority of 56% voted against an initiative to introduce stricter gun laws on 9 February.

Viva Rio has released the result of a comprehensive research project on illicit trafficking on small arms in Brazil, based on the analysis of over 300,000 weapons seized and tracked throughout the country over the last 20 years.

Amnesty International Spain have launched a ‘web action’, encouraging people to send messages of concern to the Spanish government about possible arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

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