Gun control laws vary from country to country in rigor and effectiveness. In this episode, we explore how countries across the globe differ from the United States in their gun control policies.

U.S. Gun Control

With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, US citizens own roughly 35-50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. It also has the highest homicide-by-firearm rate in the developed world. Most U.S. gun control regulations are governed by the Gun Control Act of 1968, which exempts private sellers from meeting strict rules governing businesses that sell guns. This lax standard for private sellers is sometimes called the “gun show loophole.”

Shaping of National Gun Laws

Some national gun laws are shaped by historical tragedies. For instance, Australia had lax gun laws until April 1996, when a lone gunman killed 35 people in Port Arthur. In reaction, the Australian government implemented the 1996 National Firearms Agreement and Buyback Program, which established stricter rules on gun storage, concealed carry, and selling and purchasing guns. Australian deaths by firearm have since reduced by approximately 72 percent.

Other national laws, like those of Israel, are driven by homeland security challenges. Although military service is compulsory in Israel, citizens must adhere to strict civilian gun laws, including being able to speak basic Hebrew. Some of these standards are meant to help mitigate risks of civilian violence between Palestinian and Israeli citizens. However, there is a robust black market for firearms in Israel, particularly the Palestinian sectors, that likely outnumbers legally obtained firearms.

Given the absence of international gun norms or laws, countries will continue to shape their gun laws based on cultural norms and unique security concerns.

Dig Deeper

Take a look at some of our favorite articles that we came across while researching this topic:

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