The World’s Best Countries For Owning Guns (And Living as an Expat)
The United States of America is the best/easiest place in the world to own guns. Period.
It’s the only place you can get a gun at a Walmart. In fact, only 13 states require a background check. Guns can be advertised online and they can cost as little as US$100, making it the cheapest place to buy guns in the world. Even AR-15s can cost less than an Iphone. The estimated number of guns per capita is around 1.13. This means there are more guns than there are people. Even one of Iowa’s legislative bodies has passed a bill to allow children to handle handguns. But all of this is a topic for another day.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, today we’ll look at the alternatives… the countries with the easiest gun laws in the world. Places where you can bring your guns, buy new ones, stock up for doomsday, go hunting, or whatever your reasons might be.
If you are looking to start a new life overseas and your main hobby is sport hunting, you are concerned for the safety of your family, or you just like occasionally going to the nearest gun range, odds are you’ll want to bring your guns to your new country of choice.
Now, there are a few things to keep in mind while you are seeking out your new gun-friendly destination.
First and foremost, in all of the following places, you’ll need to be a citizen in order to obtain a gun permit. That is, to buy a gun in the country, you will need to have your citizenship and passport for that country. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. In nearly every country in the world, if you want to bring the guns you currently own with you, you’ll be required to have a special permit granting weapon importation. Otherwise you’ll be faced with a fine, or even some jail time. International shipment of weapons is a delicate matter these days, so before you choose your destination, do your due diligence regarding gun ownership laws and how best to get them where you’re going.
Now that you have a little idea of what you’re up against, here are the 10 countries with the friendliest laws when it comes to guns:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
The weather might not be for everyone’s taste, and sure, there’s the strong language barrier, but the gun laws here are one of the most lax in all of Eastern Europe. 59% of the population owns guns. In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina ranked at No. 34. When you get a permit, you are automatically granted concealed carry rights.
Here you can find one of the best retirement destinations in the world, the island of Roatán. And if that wasn’t enough, Hondurans may purchase the most popular types of shotguns, handguns, and rifles for both self-defense and recreation. And yes, most semiautomatic carbines of .308-caliber or smaller are allowed.
The downside of Honduras: Crime rates are at an historic high, especially in San Pedro Sula. It is recommended to stay away from main city areas. There are more illicit guns in the market than there are legal firearms available. The level of violence has led to tighter government regulation of firearms and, as a result, concealed carry is prohibited.
Finland boasts First World qualities like great health care, healthy living and mountain views to die for. Finland also has high per-capita gun ownership like in other Nordic countries, due to strong hunting traditions. The number of guns per capita is rated at 12.81 percent, however, this is based on registered ownership. Many World War II-era guns are thought to be in circulation, but there are no definite numbers on these.
- UAE (United Arab Emirates)
You’ve seen the videos. Guys everywhere taking out their rifles and shooting in the air just to celebrate a wedding. Pet cheetahs and golden AK-47s, man. If you are a gun enthusiast, the United Arab Emirates might be the place for you if you have the budget, it is an expensive country to live in, due to the approach the government has taken to elite lifestyles in some parts of the country, like Dubai.
In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, the United Arab Emirates ranked at No. 24. Incredibly, the UAE has really low homicide rates, with 69 homicides for 2012. It has one of the lowest gun-crime rates in the world.
Norway is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It’s a great country for outdoor activities thanks to the Fjords, the varied wildlife, Viking history and breathtaking natural sceneries that would make any media producer drool. Also, it has one of the highest guns per capita percentages in the world.
Concealed and open carry are prohibited, but after a test and a qualifying course to obtain your permit, you might be eligible to own semiautomatic rifles with a special permit.
If you are looking for sun, pristine beaches, palm trees, exceptional tax breaks, and concealed carry, Panama is your definitive destiny.
Panama almost has it all. Residency permits are easy and fast to obtain, the cost of living can range from affordable to really cheap depending on where you base yourself, services are developed in the city, private health care is more affordable and of high quality, and the economy is booming. Also, Panama is the safest country in Central America. Some believe this to be in some way or another because of private firearms ownership.
The main advantages of Panama, gun-wise, is that a gun permit is rather simple to obtain, but not quickly. Short-barreled rifles and shotguns are legal in Panama, and concealed carry is wholly permitted. Open carry is prohibited.
The main con in Panama is that a gun control bill has been passed in hopes of lowering violence (it hasn’t), prohibiting ALL gun imports into the country. This bill has been recently extended until December 2017, to the dismay of a large group of Panamanian people. Gun permits have to have a registration of all your guns, and these permits can take up to a year to be issued.
Being a small, gun controlled country, gun culture is also very small. There are few gun stores around, and those with a decent selection are increasingly scarce. Expect prices to go ridiculously higher than normal here.
Another point to take into consideration here is the weather. Humidity here can be unbearable for some folks. The country is very close to sea level. Constant heat is the norm in this country, and your outdoor family picnic being ruined by jungle rain can be common depending on the time of the year. But beach spots like Pedasí, San Blas, and Bocas del Toro, can make everything worth it.
The Tower of Pisa, the Coliseum, Italian food, great weather, elite shopping, cheap retirement options, and fully automatic rifles. In Italy, a license is needed to get your hands on any type of gun. There are 3 licenses that allow individuals to own firearms: Hunting license; Shooting Sports license; and Concealed Carry license. The recommended license to go for is hunting, it lets you engage and carry hunting grade firearms. A concealed carry license is another thing. To obtain one, you must prove you have a definitive “threat to life.”
Depending on the type of license you get, you are allowed to carry:
- Up to three common firearms (usually handguns, but all firearms not using hunting calibers fall into this category, such as 10-gauge shotguns, or some .22 rimfire pistols and rifles);
- Up to six weapons that have been classified as manufactured for shooting sports by the National Proof House;
- An unlimited number of hunting weapons (both rifles and shotguns);
- Up to eight antique or historical weapons (manufactured before 1890);
- Unlimited numbers of single shot muzzle loader replicas, for which no registration is needed;
- Unlimited numbers of air guns under 7.5 Joules of muzzle energy, specifically approved by the Ministry of Interior, which require no registration as well.
Since guns like Remington 970, AR-15, AK-47 and similar rifles fall into the category of hunting weapons, .223 type of ammunition and higher are commonly used in hunting, so generally you wouldn’t have to worry about ammunition laws. Even .22s used for hunting can be owned in an unlimited number.
Canada is the most projected destiny for Americans after the elections. The reasons are quite simple. Canada is one of the best destinations in the world because of its completely public health system, stable and ongoing economy, the minimal culture shock Americans would experience, great culture, and one of the lowest rates for crime in the whole world. And this is coming from a country that also is gun enthusiastic. Many wonder about the difference in gun-crime between Canada and the States as they have similar approaches to gun ownership.
Canada’s strong hunting tradition has made gun culture a staple, despite many attempts by anti-gun lobbying groups to bury it. 23.8 percent of people reportedly have legal ownership of firearms in their homes. They have a very good selections of firearms available.
That’s about it for the good part. Canada has outright bans on semi-auto rifle magazines holding 6 rounds and up, and semiautomatic pistol magazines holding more than 10 rounds. Pistols with barrel lengths over 4.1 inches, long guns with an overall length under 26 inches and semi-auto rifles with barrels under 18 ½ inches can only be shot at firearms ranges and require special license. All gun ownership requires a “possession and acquisition license.” Canada’s storage requirements state that the guns be unloaded and rendered inoperable or locked. No using them for self-defense; concealed carry is highly restricted for civilians.
Canada isn’t exactly an exotic retirement or living destination, and the weather is outright terrible for the majority of the year. Nevertheless, if you appreciate the conservative approach to retiring, Canada is a great option.
- Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is one of the best places to go in Europe. It has all the charm of the Old World at even better prices. The capital, Prague, is often compared with Paris, and it is understandable. In its glory days, Prague, 14th-century capital of the Holy Roman Empire, was of greater repute than the City of Light.
It is a nation that has been riddled with struggle before the 21st century. Czechs have spent time much of their history fighting, including two civil wars—one of which lasted 200 years. After the fall of communism, Czechs restored their gun rights and now have some of the best gun laws in Europe.
Recreational shooting is the third most popular sport in the Czech Republic, only behind soccer and hockey. Czech law also recognizes the right to self-defense more strongly than most nations, even if the right of firearms is not constitutionally recognized. Citizens may obtain concealed-carry permits without declaring a reason. You may carry up to two concealed firearms, even.
Switzerland has one of the highest standards of living in the world. Housing and food culture are all high quality. You can even drink the water from public fountains with confidence. Crime rates are as low as they come because of a more than great and stable economy, making it a very safe city, even described as “surreal.” The largest city, Zürich, consistently ranks as one of the top 3 cities to live in the world. And man, Swiss chocolate.
Apart from the picture-perfect overview, Switzerland is widely known for its vast gun culture and having one of the best gun laws in the world.
Until 2010, all capable males were required to keep a Sig SG 550 and a Sig Sauer p229 at home or the local armory to provide for the national defense. The service is now voluntary, where they have comprehensive military training. So-called “free arms” such as single-shots and bolt-action rifles can be purchased by anyone over 18 years of age without a permit. You are only allowed to conceal-carry your Sig Sauer issued to you only after you show “proof of genuine need and tangible danger.” Automatic rifles are allowed with a special permit, usually for hunting. Most types of ammunition is legal, and there are a lot of shooting ranges throughout the country.
Keep in mind, though, that when issued a gun you are legally responsible for all activities related to the firearm, even if someone steals it and commits a crime.
The fact that we’ve ranked Switzerland number one on our list doesn’t mean that its laws are lax, on the contrary. But they are so well-administered that it meets world standards.