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Firearms in Foreign Countries

MR 38 Match MA27147 01

A match revolver, used in competition shooting.

This is the 3rd post in an ongoing series. Click for Part 1 and Part 2.

Last week we examined the general process involved in purchasing a firearm in the US. We followed our friends Chad and Brad as they bought guns. We learned how easy it is for someone with a mental health issue to purchase a firearm. This week we’ll look at what would happen if Chad or Brad lived abroad.

What follows are a number of our ‘peer’ Nations and their legal procedures for obtaining a firearm. For some of these nations I’ve included a bit of background for context.

The UK

In Hungerford, Berkshire, England on August 19th, 1987, Michael Robert Ryan shot 31 people, killing 16 of them. He then turned the weapon on himself and ended his life. He was 27 years old. Michael was the legal, registered owner of the two semi-automatic rifles and the semi-automatic pistol used in the shootings.

In response to what came to be known as the Hungerford Massacre the UK government passed the amended Firearms Act of 1988. This sweeping reform outlawed burst-fire weapons, semi-automatic or pump-action rifles (excepting those chambered for .22 rimfire), rifles with a barrel length shorter than 24 inches or overall length shorter than 40 inches, many revolvers, and some pistols. The Act also gave the Home Secretary the power to ban any firearm deemed “specially dangerous” or designed to evade a metal detector, provided that the weapon hadn’t been widely sold in Britain before the passage of the act. This law remained in place and unamended until 1997.

On March 13th, 1996, Thomas Hamilton entered the Dunblane Primary School in Dunbane, Scotland. He was armed with 4 semi-automatic handguns. Hamilton shot and killed 16 children and one adult before taking his own life.

The Dunblane School Massacre led to the Amended Firearms Act of 1997, which made private ownership of handguns (excepting .22 rimfire) illegal in the UK.

Most weapons are thus prohibited in the UK. There are some exceptions. Muzzle-loading handguns are permitted, as are some black-powder weapons. Some historic or antique firearms are still allowed as collectibles, and some sporting rifles and shotguns are still permitted. [cont’d.]

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