map placeholder


Very restricted

Click on a country for details.

Countries Where Guns Are Illegal 2024

Gun control is a topic of great debate and concern in many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Rising gun violence in many countries—particularly mass shootings and school shootings—has led many nations to implement gun laws that restrict the average citizen's ability to sell, own, transfer, or possess a gun. These gun control laws per country can range from smaller measures, such as a mandatory three-day waiting period on gun purchases, to outright bans on certain high-end gear such as assault rifles or high-capacity ammo magazines. Some countries have even made private gun ownership illegal.

Gun enthusiasts often resist such measures and instead favor more lenient laws on firearm possession, carrying, and use. This is particularly true in the United States, where unrestricted possession of firearms is seen by many as a constitutional right. The U.S. has the highest rate of private gun ownership in the world, with 120.5 civilian-owned guns per 100 civilians. Guns are regulated at the state level in the U.S., so each state's gun laws can vary considerably from those of their neighbors.

Gun control basics

Worldwide, the matter of gun control is often complicated by opposing theories about the causes of gun deaths in each country. Gun control advocates maintain that guns are too easy to obtain and argue that restricting them reduces gun violence. Gun enthusiasts counter that criminals rarely use legally obtained guns, so the problem is not that guns are too easy to get, but that there are too few civilians carrying them. If more people possessed and openly carried guns, enthusiasts postulate, potential shooters would be less likely to open fire.

Gun control laws can be quite complex, and often establish separate regulations regarding the legal sale, ownership, registration, and use of each specific type of gun (as well as ammunition and accessories such as scopes and sound suppressors). In most countries, some guns are more likely to be prohibited than others—for example, handguns and assault weapons are restricted or banned far more frequently than basic rifles and shotguns. Gun laws usually establish different guidelines for military personnel, law enforcement officials, and civilians. Gun licenses and usage rules vary as well, depending upon whether the gun will be used for sporting, subsistence hunting, self defense, and so on.

Countries in which guns are severely restricted

Several additional countries stop short of banning firearms entirely, but restrict them very closely. For example, Japan allows gun ownership only for the purposes of hunting and sport shooting, and licenses require significant effort to obtain—including proficiency tests and a mental health evaluation complete with interviews of family and friends—and must be renewed every three years. Ammo sales are also tightly regulated. China has a similar approach, permitting only sportsmen's clubs and a few ethnic minorities to own firearms and prohibiting private gun ownership in all other cases. Djibouti prohibits all firearms possession except in cases in which the Head of State grants an exception.

In other countries, the law does not necessarily dictate the reality. In the Central African Republic, for instance, only members of Parliament are permitted to own firearms of any kind. However, this law is widely unenforced and a healthy illicit gun market exists. Similarly, Somalia has a total ban on the import, sale, and possession of firearms, but it is commonly ignored.

  • In countries marked as 'very restricted', guns are either prohibited with exceptions or prohibited in practice. Furthermore, only people meeting narrow conditions are allowed to own firearms, and few licenses are issued.

Download Table Data

Enter your email below, and you'll receive this table's data in your inbox momentarily.

BotswanaVery restricted
The acceptance rate for firearms licences is less than 1%.
Burkina FasoVery restricted
No new licenses since 2020.
Central African RepublicVery restricted
Only members of parlament may obtain a licence.
ChinaVery restricted
Few licenses are issued only. Civilian ownership of guns is restricted to authorized, non-individual...
Cook IslandsVery restricted
No new licenses since 1992.
DjiboutiVery restricted
Generally prohibited except when special permits are granted in exceptional circumstances by the Hea...
Guinea BissauIllegal
Hong KongVery restricted
Possession is restricted to law enforcement, military, and private security firms.
IndonesiaVery restricted
Licenses are only issued to civilians employed in a profession that involves using firearms, with an...
JapanVery restricted
Few licenses are issued only.
KiribatiVery restricted
Prohibited in practice.
Marshall IslandsIllegal
Permitted for hunting only in Chin state.
North KoreaIllegal
Papua New GuineaVery restricted
No new licneses since 2017.
Solomon IslandsIllegal
Timor LesteIllegal
Vatican CityIllegal
showing: 29 rows

Frequently Asked Questions