A search of legal reports produced by the Law Library of Congress has identified multiple reports on gun laws around the world. The reports date back to the early 1960s, reflecting the interest in the topics of “firearms” OR “weapons” OR “gun control” OR “weapons industry” by Law Library of Congress patrons over the years. As stated on our website,
The Law Library of Congress produces reports on foreign, comparative, and international law in response to requests from Members of Congress, Congressional staff and committees, the federal courts, executive branch agencies, and others… These include multinational reports, providing individual country surveys and comparative analysis, as well as reports dealing with the laws of particular countries.
Multinational Reports on Regulation of Firearms
Reports Covering Multiple Aspects Related to Firearms
Reports prepared by the Law Library of Congress staff over the years address a variety of issues in relation to gun rights and regulations in countries of varying constitutional frameworks, cultures and traditions, forms of government, as well as law enforcement powers and health care systems.
The most recent Law Library of Congress multinational report discussing Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy was published in February 2013. The report examines the different legal approaches taken by 18 countries and the European Union with regard to various activities involving firearms.
The 2013 report contains a comparative analysis and individual country surveys for Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, and Switzerland.
The individual surveys contained in the 2013 report cover relevant constitutional provisions, laws, regulations, and directives in addition to statistical and other information on gun control and licensing requirements. Many describe legislative history and trends, which in some cases were influenced by rising crime levels or incidents of mass shootings. The report further contains a bibliography of selected English-language materials.
A previous multinational report, Firearms Regulation: A Comparative Study of Selected Foreign Nations, was published in 1994. In addition to individual jurisdictional surveys, a summary is provided that includes data on rates of homicides with firearms, types of firearms prohibited for the general public, restrictions on granting permits for possession of firearms (commonly age, former criminal offenses, mental problems, alcohol, drug use, and safety tests), and maximum penalties for firearm offenses in the countries surveyed. The jurisdictions covered by the 1994 report are Australia, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, European Union, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland.
A 1981 Law Library of Congress report, Gun Control Laws in Foreign Countries, updates information on countries included in a similarly-titled report published in 1976, with additional countries, some of which no longer exist, together covering: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burma, Canada, Chile, Czechoslovakia (which ceased to exist on December 31, 1992, and was succeeded by two new states: the Czech Republic and Slovakia), Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong (which returned to China on July 1, 1997, and currently constitutes a special administrative region of China), India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway ,Poland, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and the USSR (which ceased to exist by December 1991 and was succeeded by the Russian Federation).
The earliest published multinational report on gun control legislation currently available on the Law Library of Congress website appears to be Handgun Laws in Foreign Countries, published in 1973. This report, which includes surveys of some of the countries reviewed in the later 1981 and 1976 publications, addresses relevant legislation that applied in 1973.
Reports on Specific Aspects of Firearms Regulation
The following multinational reports included in our collections may also be relevant in reviewing foreign countries’ laws related to firearms:
Mental Health Regulations and Licensing Restrictions (2013), surveys the mental health care systems in 14 jurisdictions, with special attention to mental health background check requirements for licenses for specific activities, including driving and owning firearms. The report includes individual jurisdictional surveys for: Argentina, Canada, China, England, European Union, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Russian Federation, and South Africa.
Government Inspection of Firearms to Assure Safety Features: Countries of the Far East (1965), provides information on the extent, if any, of the authority of government officials to inspect firearms under the laws governing in Japan, Korea, and Thailand in 1965.
Individual Country Reports on Regulation of Firearms
The Law Library of Congress’s collection of legal reports also contains multiple single-country reports on issues related to firearms. The following list is arranged by country and publication dates:
Australia: Storage of Assault Weapons And Ammunition (2013)
Brazil: Gun Control Under the Laws of Brazil (1968)
Canada: Gun Control in Canada (1994)
Colombia: Proposed Amnesty Program for Members of Illegal Armed Groups (2003)
Japan: Law Controlling Firearms in Japan (1965; 1968); Japan: Gun Control Law and Statistics on Deaths by Firearms (1981)
Lebanon: Gun Laws of Lebanon (1976)
Mexico: Right to Bear Arms by Foreigners (2011)
Republic of Korea: Republic of Korea Gun Control Laws (1997)
Thailand: Gun Control (1971)
United States: Gun Ownership and the Supreme Court (2008)
Global Legal Monitor Articles
For updates on legislation and legal reforms in the area of firearms and gun control, you can read and subscribe to receive new articles on the topic of “firearms” in the Law Library’s Global Legal Monitor .
The Global Legal Monitor contains numerous articles on issues such as a Mexican amendment to let certain foreign government agents possess firearms while on duty (2015); Thai amendments designed to keep pace with developments in weapons technology and changes (2017); new criteria for possession and carrying of firearms in Israel (2017); national firearms amnesty in Australia (2017); and firearms buyback program in New Zealand (2019).
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