Countries Where It Is Difficult To Buy A Gun

Many countries require background checks before citizens are allowed to purchase firearms. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash
  • Hand guns are generally banned in the U.K.
  • The U.S. has the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world.
  • In addition to a five year prison sentence, you may also be beaten with a cane if you are caught in unlawful possession of a firearm in Singapore.

How difficult is it to own a firearm where you live? Some jurisdictions have few regulations on who can own a gun, while others have extremely restrictive gun control laws. In some cases, you may need to have a criminal background check before you can purchase a firearm. You may even have to submit to a psychological evaluation. And in some places, there are very few circumstances in which you can own a firearm. Here are some countries where it is very difficult to own a gun:


Civilians in the Great White North can legally own firearms, but only after being subject to a rigorous screening process. Anyone wanting to purchase a gun must pass a series of background checks. They must also take a firearms safety course. Rules exist regarding how weapons are stored as well. At the end of the day, if a person passes all the tests, they still face a series of restrictions in regards to what kind of firearms they can legally own. The federal government classifies firearms into three categories: prohibited, restricted, and non-restricted. As the term implies, prohibited means that it is generally against the law to possess firearms with this classification. These include certain handguns, fully automatic weapons, and military-style assault rifles. Restricted firearms include certain handguns and semiautomatic weapons, as well as some non-semiautomatic rifles. As you can imagine, the guns on the non-restrictive list are the ones deemed to be the least dangerous. Following a mass shooting attack in April 2020, in which 22 people were killed, the Canadian government tightened gun control laws even further, banning 1500 assault-style firearms.

United Kingdom

The U.K. has some of the strictest gun control laws in the Western world. Before anyone can own a firearm, he or she must demonstrate a “good reason” for possessing one, such as a job requirement. And no, self-defense isn’t considered one of those reasons. If a person is approved to own a firearm, that person must pass a series of background checks. Once that person owns a gun, he or she must renew his or her firearms license every five years. Guns must also be stored appropriately, according to specific regulations. The U.K. rigorously enforces its gun control laws, and anyone caught in possession of an illegal firearm will face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of seven years.


Gun control is so strict in Japan that even criminal elements in the country regard having a firearm as a liability. Photo by Jase Bloor on Unsplash

The Land of the Rising Sun has some of the strictest gun control laws in the democratic world. Like Canada and the U.K., civilians are only permitted to own a firearm after passing a series of background checks and a safety course. In Japan, however, prospective gun owners must also attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which is only held once a month. If you manage to pass all the background checks and tests, you will need to inform authorities of where in your home your gun is stored. You must also have the police inspect your firearm every year and re-take the course and written test every three years. In addition, you must obtain a separate license to purchase ammunition, plus you will face restrictions on how much ammunition you can have. Gun control is so strict in Japan that even criminal elements in the country regard having a firearm as a liability. Even simply being caught in unlawful possession of a gun can net you a lengthy prison term.


China has a low homicide rate because gun control is so strict. Photo by Leon Liu on Unsplash

There are very few circumstances in which a civilian can own a firearm in the Middle Kingdom. Individual hunters and herders can possess hunting rifles, subject to government approval, but only in certain geographic areas as marked by provincial authorities. The weapons may not be carried outside of such areas. There are also some civilian-run institutions that can own guns, including those involved in wildlife preservation, sports, protection of financial institutions, or research activities. Civilians are also prohibited from possessing automatic weapons or explosives. Violating China’s gun laws can lead to severe punishment, including lengthy prison terms. The country’s strict controls on the possession of firearms may explain their low homicide rate, which stood at one murder per 100,000 people in 2017, compared to the U.S., with around five murders per 100,000 people in the same year.


The city-state off the coast of Malaysia in Southeast Asia is well-known for its draconian laws. Its gun control measures are no exception. The country has what are arguably the world’s strictest gun control laws. In fact, ordinary citizens cannot own any gun whatsoever. Simply being caught with an unauthorized firearm, or even ammunition, can net you a five-year prison sentence, and committing a crime using a gun gets you an automatic death sentence.


More in World Facts