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Armed violence prevention, gun control laws and the small arms trade:

European Union — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law

The European Council Weapons Directive (below) sets minimum standards agreed by the European Union. For individual EU countries, select from the 'Go To' menu

StockpilesGun Numbers

Civilian Guns

Number of Privately Owned Firearms

The estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in the European Union is 79,800,0001

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) in the European Union is 15.71 firearms per 100 people

Number of Licensed Firearm Owners

The number of licensed gun owners in the European Union is reported to be

2013: 25,000,0002

Rate of Licensed Firearm Owners per 100 Population

The rate of licensed firearm owners per 100 people in the European Union is

2013: 4.943

Number of Registered Firearms

The number of registered guns in the European Union is reported to be 80,000,0004

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

The rate of registered guns per 100 people in the European Union is 15.823

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Total Number of Gun Deaths

In the European Union, annual deaths resulting from firearms total

2000/12: 87,0005

Rate of All Gun Deaths per 100,000 People

In the European Union, the annual rate of all gun deaths per 100,000 population is

2012: 17.413

Gun Homicides

ChartIn the European Union, annual firearm homicides total

2011: 1,2236
2000/12: 13,2007

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

In the European Union, the annual rate of firearm homicide per 100,000 population is

2012: 2.643

Proportion of Homicides Committed With a Gun

In the European Union, the percentage of homicides committed with a firearm is reported to be

2011: 22%6

Gun Suicides

ChartIn the European Union, annual firearm suicides total

2011: 4,0006
2000/12: 5,0008

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

In the European Union, the annual rate of firearm suicide per 100,000 population is

2012: 1.003

ProductionGun Industry

Number of Small Arms Manufactured

The reported annual number of small arms manufactured in the European Union is

2011: 1,974,1569 10

Home-made Guns

In the European Union, the prevalence of illicit craft, or 'home-made' firearm manufacture is reported to be moderate4 11

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Firearm Exports

In the European Union, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law12 13 14 15 16

Firearm Exports (Number) - Manufacturers

The annual number of firearms exported from the European Union is reported by manufacturers to be

2011: 1,200,94117 18

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from the European Union is reported by Customs to be US$1,258,435,76519 (2011)18

Firearm Imports

In the European Union, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law12 13 14 15

Firearm Imports (Number) - Customs

The annual number of firearms imported to the European Union is reported to be

2011: 195,38220 18

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in the European Union is high21 4 22

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In the European Union, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are specifically regulated by law23 24

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in the European Union is categorised as restrictive25

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in the European Union includes the European Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons,26 27 the European Union Firearms Regulation of 2012 and the Common Position on the Control of Arms Brokering of 200328

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in the European Union are regulated by the European Commission27

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In the European Union, civilians are not allowed to possess automatic firearms, firearms disguised as other objects, and armour-piercing, incendiary and expanding ammunition29 30

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In the European Union, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited29 30

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In the European Union, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is permitted only with special authorisation31 32 30

Regulation of Handguns

In the European Union, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted only with special authorisation29 31 32 30

Gun Ownership and Possession

In the European Union, only licensed gun owners33 29 31 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Genuine Reason Required for Firearm Possession

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in the European Union are required to establish a genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example hunting, shooting34

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in the European Union is 18 years34

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in the European Union must pass a background check which considers criminal and various other34 11 records

Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition

Licensed firearm owners in the European Union are permitted to possess only ammunition suitable for the intended firearm35

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In the European Union, the law requires36 that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

Gun Dealer Record Keeping

In the European Union, licensed firearm dealers are required36 to keep a record of each firearm or ammunition purchase, sale or transfer on behalf of a regulating authority

Gun Sales and Transfers

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In the European Union, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful37 32

Marking and Tracing Guns and Ammunition

Firearm Marking

In the European Union, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law38

Firearm Tracing

In the European Union, state authorities carry out38 36 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

MeasuresInternational Controls

United Nations Firearms Protocol

The United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition has been signed and ratified by the European Union


Short References

1.

Duquet, Nils and Maarten Van Alstein.2015.‘Expert Estimates [Civilian Gun Ownership in EU, 2007].’ Firearms and Violent Deaths in Europe: An Exploratory Analysis of the Linkages Between Gun Ownership, Firearms Legislation and Violent Death.Brussels:Flemish Peace Institute,25 June. (Q12041)Full Citation

2.

Duquet, Nils and Maarten Van Alstein.2015.‘Number of Gun Owners in the European Union (2013).’ Firearms and Violent Deaths in Europe: An Exploratory Analysis of the Linkages Between Gun Ownership, Firearms Legislation and Violent Death.Brussels:Flemish Peace Institute,25 June. (Q12047)Full Citation

3.

GunPolicy.org.2016.‘Calculated Rates - European Union.’ Historical Population Data - Eurostat Data Base.Brussels:Eurostat,9 June. (Q8272)Full Citation

4.

European Commission.2013.‘Firearms and the Internal Security of the EU: Protecting Citizens and Disrupting Illegal Trafficking.’ Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament.Brussels:Europa.eu,21 October. (Q8227)Full Citation

5.

Duquet, Nils and Maarten Van Alstein.2015.‘Gun-Related Deaths in Europe, 2000-2012.’ Firearms and Violent Deaths in Europe: An Exploratory Analysis of the Linkages Between Gun Ownership, Firearms Legislation and Violent Death.Brussels:Flemish Peace Institute,25 June. (Q12042)Full Citation

6.

European Commission.2014.‘Firearms-related Murders.’ Study to Support an Impact Assessment on Options for Combatting Illicit Firearms Trafficking in the European Union.Luxembourg:Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services,1 July. (Q12314)Full Citation

7.

Duquet, Nils and Maarten Van Alstein.2015.‘Number of Gun Homicides in EU, 2000-2012.’ Firearms and Violent Deaths in Europe: An Exploratory Analysis of the Linkages Between Gun Ownership, Firearms Legislation and Violent Death.Brussels:Flemish Peace Institute,25 June. (Q12044)Full Citation

8.

Duquet, Nils and Maarten Van Alstein.2015.‘Number of Gun Suicides in EU, 2000-2012.’ Firearms and Violent Deaths in Europe: An Exploratory Analysis of the Linkages Between Gun Ownership, Firearms Legislation and Violent Death.Brussels:Flemish Peace Institute,25 June. (Q12043)Full Citation

9.

European Commission.2013.‘2011 Production of Civilian Firearms in EU.’ Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament.Brussels:Europa.eu,21 October. (Q8221)Full Citation

10.

European Commission.2014.‘Firearm Manufacture.’ Study to Support an Impact Assessment on Options for Combatting Illicit Firearms Trafficking in the European Union.Luxembourg:Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services,1 July. (Q12312)Full Citation

11.

European Commission.2013.‘Firearms and the Internal Security of the EU: Protecting Citizens and Disrupting Illegal Trafficking.’ Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament.Brussels:Europa.eu,21 October. (Q8225)Full Citation

12.

European Council.1991.‘Article 11.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2414)Full Citation

13.

European Council.1991.‘Article 12.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2415)Full Citation

14.

European Council.1991.‘Article 13.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2416)Full Citation

15.

European Council.1991.‘Article 14.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2417)Full Citation

16.

European Commission.2013.‘The Need for Action at EU Level - EU Firearms Laws.’ Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament.Brussels:Europa.eu,21 October. (Q8320)Full Citation

17.

European Commission.2013.‘2011 Production of Civilian Firearms in EU.’ Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament.Brussels:Europa.eu,21 October. (Q8222)Full Citation

18.

European Commission.2014.‘EU Firearms Production, Exports and Imports (2011).’ Study to Support an Impact Assessment on Options for Combatting Illicit Firearms Trafficking in the European Union.Luxembourg:Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services,1 July. (Q12313)Full Citation

19.

European Commission.2013.‘2011 Production of Civilian Firearms in EU.’ Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament.Brussels:Europa.eu,21 October. (Q8224)Full Citation

20.

European Commission.2013.‘2011 Production of Civilian Firearms in EU.’ Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament.Brussels:Europa.eu,21 October. (Q8223)Full Citation

21.

European Commission.2013.‘Firearms and the Internal Security of the EU: Protecting Citizens and Disrupting Illegal Trafficking.’ Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament.Brussels:Europa.eu,21 October. (Q8226)Full Citation

22.

European Commission.2013.‘Reducing Gun Violence: The Way Forward.’ Europa - Press Release.Brussels:Europa.eu,21 October. (Q8322)Full Citation

23.

European Council.1991.‘Article 4b.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2408)Full Citation

24.

European Commission.2013.‘The Need for Action at EU Level - EU Firearms Laws.’ Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament.Brussels:Europa.eu,21 October. (Q8319)Full Citation

25.

Newton, George D and Franklin E Zimring.1969.‘Firearm Licensing: Permissive v Restrictive.’ Firearms & Violence in American Life: A staff report submitted to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence.Washington, DC:US Government Printing Office,1 January. (Q22)Full Citation

26.

European Council.1991.‘European Weapons Directive.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2403)Full Citation

27.

European Council.1991.‘Article 18.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2418)Full Citation

28.

European Commission.2013.‘The Need for Action at EU Level - EU Firearms Laws.’ Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament.Brussels:Europa.eu,21 October. (Q8315)Full Citation

29.

European Council.1991.‘Article 6.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2410)Full Citation

30.

European Council.1991.‘Annex 1.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2419)Full Citation

31.

European Council.1991.‘Article 7.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2411)Full Citation

32.

European Council.1991.‘Article 8.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2412)Full Citation

33.

European Council.1991.‘Article 4a.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2407)Full Citation

34.

European Council.1991.‘Article 5.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2409)Full Citation

35.

European Council.1991.‘Article 10.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2413)Full Citation

36.

European Council.1991.‘Article 4.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2406)Full Citation

37.

European Council.1991.‘Article 4.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2405)Full Citation

38.

European Council.1991.‘Article 4.’ Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (91/477/EEC) [current to 2008 amendments].Brussels:Council of the European Communities,18 June. (Q2404)Full Citation