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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 Registered Firearms

The number of registered guns in the European Union is reported to be 80,000,0001

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

The rate of registered guns per 100 people in the European Union is 15.822

ProductionGun Industry

Number of Small Arms Manufactured

The reported annual number of small arms manufactured in the European Union is 2011: 1,974,1563

Home-made Guns

In the European Union the prevalence of illicit craft, or 'home-made' firearm manufacture is reported to be moderate1 4

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Regulation of Firearm Exports

In the European Union, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law5 6 7 8 9

Firearm Exports (Number) - Manufacturers

The annual number of firearms exported from the European Union is reported by manufacturers to be 2011: 1,200,94110

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$1,258,435,76511 (2011)

Regulation of Firearm Imports

In the European Union, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law5 6 7 8

Firearm Imports (Number) - Customs

The annual number of firearms imported to the European Union is reported to be 2011: 195,38212

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in the European Union is high13 1 14

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In the European Union, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are specifically regulated by law15 16

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in the European Union is categorised as restrictive17

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,18 19 the European Union Firearms Regulation of 2012 and the Common Position on the Control of Arms Brokering of 200320

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in the European Union are regulated by the European Commission19

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 ammunition21 22

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In the European Union, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited21 22

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In the European Union, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is permitted only with special authorisation23 24 22

Regulation of Handguns

In the European Union, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted only with special authorisation21 23 24 22

Gun Ownership and Possession

In the European Union, only licensed gun owners25 21 23 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 prove genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example, hunting, shooting26

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in the European Union is 18 years26

Gun Licence Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in the European Union must pass a background check which considers criminal and various other26 4 records

Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition

Licensed firearm owners in the European Union are permitted to possess only ammunition suitable for the intended firearm27

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In the European Union, the law requires28 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 required28 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 unlawful29 24

Marking and Tracing Guns and Ammunition

Firearm Marking

In the European Union, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law30

Firearm Tracing

In the European Union, state authorities carry out30 28 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures


Short References

1.

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

2.

GunPolicy.org.2013.‘Calculated Rates – European Union.’ Historical Population Data – Eurostat Data Base.Brussels:Eurostat,7 November. (Q8272)Full Citation

3.

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

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. (Q8225)Full Citation

5.

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

6.

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

7.

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

8.

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

9.

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

10.

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

11.

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

12.

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

13.

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

14.

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

15.

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

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. (Q8319)Full Citation

17.

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

18.

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

19.

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

20.

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

21.

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

22.

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

23.

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

24.

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

25.

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

26.

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

27.

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

28.

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

29.

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

30.

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