In today’s article we present to you a selection of different countries ideal for gun lovers and anyone who doesn’t want to delegate their personal safety to others.
Without doubt the topic that we are addressing today is somewhat controversial. It is controversial because, first and foremost, in most places information on the subject is not impartial, while at the same time, there is no doubting that public opinion affects even those that own guns completely legally.
In today’s world anyone who wants to exercise their right to self-defence is considered a homicidal madman, terrorist, psychopath or a mixture of all three.
In many social circles, criticising the politics of Obama or Hillary Clinton is equivalent to admitting being a misanthropic religious Republican. The right to bear arms is considered the mortal sin par excellence, even for some people of a liberal and libertarian persuasion.
However, it is enough to simply change country to instantly find radically different perspectives. For example, Switzerland is, according to various sources, the most armed country in Europe yet at the same time is the country with the lowest homicide rate.
How is that possible? Guns kill, don’t they? We leave you with this article written a while ago by Christoph and now translated into English.
The reasons for an article that talks about gun laws across the world
Along with Switzerland, the Czech Republic is another European country where not only is it completely normal to keep a gun in your wardrobe, it is also normal to carry one in your pocket. And with all due respect to hunters, sports marksmen and others in similar situations, what use is it to have a gun stored away at home if you are threatened?
Each person will have to answer this question for themselves. In any case, the aim of this article is not to persuade the great mass of detractors opposed to guns of anything, rather to help the minority of those in favour of them, who are increasingly persecuted, to decide where they can go and live a better life.
So, if you are in this situation, which countries best allow you to pursue your passion without having to explain yourself? Where can you go to take control of your own safety instead of depending on busy police officers?
The truth is we must confess none of us here at Staatenlos has any direct experience with firearms.
However, as frequent travellers, we know it would be far from straightforward trying to get a gun legally or illegally through airport security checks and the dozens of border ports.
Criteria for ranking the different liberal gun laws
Today almost anywhere in the world you must have a very good reason for possessing or carrying a gun on your person. Even then, in the majority of cases the most you can do with them is practice at a shooting range in a club or hunt in the forest. For many people it is unthinkable to carry a gun with them.
Even so, there can be good reasons to carry a gun. Ultimately, it isn’t much use to you if you don’t do it. This is exactly one of the key points of this article.
Lots of different lists can be made containing the most liberal countries in respects of guns. My ranking is based on three simple criteria which, as a layperson in the subject and with certain scepticism towards the State, I consider important. I ask that readers pardon my lack of knowledge of the technical terminology:
- Gun ownership is not a privilege—it is a right. Private self-defence is a legitimate reason for possessing arms.
- Carrying arms is permitted in daily life. Carrying the weapon visibly (open carry) is not possible almost anywhere beyond the United States, but other countries do allow a concealed carry.
- Above points 1 and 2 can be differentiated in their application.
- Some States grant a gun licence to anyone who satisfies the legal requirements.
- In many states arms are allowed, but the criteria for obtaining a licence are arbitrary.
As a result, it is evident that the States with the most liberal laws in the world are those which grant the right, legally, to self-defence combined with the ability to carry the weapon in a concealed manner to anyone who fulfils the requirements that they determine.
Unfortunately, the number of countries that allow this is very small.
Which states are not included and why
I have not included the United States of America in the list for the following reason: although everyone knows that the United States has very liberal gun laws, they vary greatly from one region to another according to the 50 states, and this complexity goes beyond the scope of this article.
Switzerland and Austria are also omitted from this list, despite their gun legislation being relatively liberal. In the case of Austria, because its legislation is very arbitrary, and Switzerland because, even though lots of people keep guns in their wardrobes as a result of previous military service, they cannot be taken into the street, except in exceptional circumstances.[Be that as it may, both Switzerland and Austria, in contrast to Germany, who appear to have learnt nothing from the national-socialist period, explicitly recognise the right to gun ownership for self-defence.]
Also excluded from the list are countries with high indices of violence, like Iraq, Pakistan and South Africa, despite their having reasonably liberal laws when it comes to guns. In these countries it is crucial that they allow firearm possession given the widespread nature of illegal ‘gunrunning’. At the end of the day, “good citizens” will have to find some way of protecting themselves from criminals. In any case, apart from certain parts of South Africa, these are not countries where most people are prepared to move to live.
So, which are the States with the most liberal legislation on firearms?
Surprisingly, European countries lead the list. Outside of Europe only Panama makes the grade. Without doubt, the European countries owe this leniency regarding guns to their past with the Soviet Union.
- Serbia and Bosnia
- Czech Republic
Gun laws in Slovakia are slightly stricter than those of its Czech neighbours. To obtain a licence you must complete a process lasting three weeks. The requirements are: be of legal age (21 years old), have no previous criminal record, have no mental or physical illness and pass an oral exam.
The issuing of licences allowing the concealed carry of arms falls within the remit of the police, who must be satisfied as to the motive. For instance, anyone who performs monetary transactions in their line of work, be that as business owner or self-employed worker, or who have been victim of crimes in the past, can apply for this licence. In general, though not always, self-defence is recognised as a valid reason for requesting a licence.
In any event, only 2% of Slovaks hold a licence legally allowing concealed carry.
Moreover, acquiring a firearm for domestic use (limited just to the home) for self-defence is very straightforward. Also, compressed-air shotguns, gas pistols and muzzle weapons are available to anyone over the age of 18 without the need for a permit.
4. Serbia and Bosnia
Serbia with a population of seven million contains around three million firearms. In this sense, Serbia is the second country in the world in terms of number of armed civilians, just behind the United States. Thanks to companies Zastava Arms, Prvi Partizan and Krušik, Serbia boasts a firearm and ammunition industry with worldwide exportation.
Serbia is one of the few States that explicitly recognises self-defence as a legitimate reason for possessing firearms. However, obtaining a concealed carry permit is difficult. Only owners of registered handguns that are in imminent danger of death are able to easily obtain this licence.
That said, anyone over the age of 18 can buy firearms without limitation if they have a permit for it. Among the requirements to have a permit are: not having a previous criminal record, psychological illness, alcohol problems or a drug addiction.
In any case, the police have the final word, they perform a careful background check of relatives and acquaintances. Judicial appeals are not granted if application for a licence is rejected. In addition, the weapons must be registered and kept in a safe place.
In Bosnia the general situation is similar to that of Serbia, but obtaining a concealed carry licence is easier, and you have the option of appealing if your licence is refused. In that case, you must take a course and pass a written exam to obtain it.
In Panama not only is it easy to obtain a permanent residence permit, but also to own firearms. Just yesterday I met a gentleman from the area who was wearing his pistol in a bar. When I asked him about it, he explained that anyone who owns a gun legally can carry it in a concealed manner. To obtain a permit you have to take a blood test, have your fingerprints taken and undergo every kind of analysis, such as a drug test.
The process takes time, like everything else in Panama. For anyone who wants to retire to a tropical paradise without giving up their penchant for guns, Panama represents a great option. It is true, however, that the country does not really have a gun culture, which makes it quite difficult to obtain a decent firearm legally.
2. Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is one of the most liberal countries in Europe when it comes to gun legislation. The country explicitly recognises self-defence as a legitimate reason for possessing firearms. It is hardly a surprise that sport shooting is the third most popular sport in the country (after football and ice hockey).
However, in addition to the standard requirements, you must pass several tests and a medical examination, and sometimes also a psychological examination.
Czechs can possess an unlimited number of firearms, but they cannot carry with them more than two at any one time. Their safekeeping depends on the number and the ammunition available, and it is determined by the law.
Estonia is the first country on the list. With the lowest state debt in Europe, an innovate government that has transformed the country into one of the most digitalised in the world, with favourable conditions for companies, it is unsurprising that the country also has extremely liberal gun laws. Considering the perpetual threat of its powerful neighbour Russia, it is perhaps to be expected that the government allows its citizens the use of guns for their self-defence.
Applying for a gun permit in Estonia is relatively easy and can be done online. Once a written application has been submitted, you have to take a medical examination, on the basis of which the permit is granted. It is valid for five years. The purchase of firearms, which must be registered within seven days, requires another permit, but in general it is granted rapidly and with little bureaucracy.
In Estonia any owner of a firearm can carry it in a concealed manner without needing to justify it. Anyone who possesses a gun legally can carry it without additional permits. The only exception to the rule is that they cannot be carried during public events.
Conclusions about the freedom of firearms in the world
It is impossible that any list comparing the best countries to own firearms can be completely correct or definitive. Laws change constantly and in many countries information about them is incomplete or simply non-existent.
Other countries that I advise you to consider are Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa.
All of them offer relatively good conditions for emigrating and for being able to continue enjoying your passion for firearms. You can have a very high standard of living if you find the right location. In these countries there is the possibility that, at the very least, carrying the gun in a concealed manner and obtaining a gun is not much more difficult than in the countries that we have talked about here.
For those preferring to stay in Europe, it would be very straightforward for European citizens to settle in Czech Republic, Slovakia or Estonia. In today’s world when gun hysteria continues to grow, these countries represent a good option for any gun lover. Even Switzerland or Austria, which are not on the list, could be good alternatives.
Lastly, each person must decide for themselves how important they consider firearms to be.
Unquestionably a huge amount of human suffering could have been avoided if, for example, the Jewish people, the Armenians, the Cambodians or the Ugandans were not disarmed, for then to be killed.
By this I do not mean that those deaths are the responsibility of the states with stricter gun laws, but lots of people sleep far more peacefully in the knowledge that they have the right to self-defence, as they keep a gun on the bed-side table or in their trouser pockets.