Other developed nations have laws controlling gun ownership that are very different from regulations in the United States. Unlike Americans, the residents of most other countries are not assumed by law to have the right to own a gun.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, most firearms are prohibited. To own a shotgun or other legal gun, people must first obtain a government license or certificate. They must state a reason why they need a weapon and provide two personal references. Anyone convicted of a crime in the U.K. is barred from handling a gun for five years. Receiving a prison sentence of three years or more also means a lifetime ban on owning a firearm.


Canada has a relatively high gun ownership level, but the number of deaths caused by firearms is much lower than in the United States. Canadians must obtain a license to own a gun. To secure a license, people must pass a background check, take a training course and provide personal references.


There are strict regulations on gun ownership in Sweden. Residents may not own handguns for personal protection, and they must pass background checks to obtain a license. All Swedes seeking to obtain a gun must state a valid reason for ownership, such as hunting. They are also forced to take a training course to obtain a license. Swedish authorities prevent people with a record of domestic violence from owning firearms.


Australia outlawed most guns following a mass shooting in 1996. Automatic and many semi-automatic firearms were prohibited. New background checks and waiting periods for gun buyers were introduced. The Australian government also spent almost $360 million repurchasing hundreds of thousands of guns from their owners and then destroyed the weapons. In order to own a firearm, Australians must cite a good reason, such as sport or hunting.


In Japan, there are almost no deaths caused by firearms. Japanese people are only permitted to own air rifles and shotguns. Even obtaining these firearms is difficult. People must take a training class, pass exams, and undergo mental health evaluations before they are given a license to own a hunting weapon. If applicants are successful, they are subjected to annual checks on their weapons and retake tests every three years.