European Gun Culture: What I’ve Learned & Unlearned

Life is full of surprising twists and turns, but I never thought a trip to Mallorca would shift my perspective on European gun culture.

Mallorca
Time for some culture, courtesy of PPT!

But first, a little background:

Mallorca is a Spanish island paradise nestled between the Balearic and Mediterranean Seas.

Its gorgeous beaches, enviable weather, and incredible historical sites have turned this cosmopolitan island—which takes about an hour to drive across—into a popular (and reluctant) tourist destination.

Sounds like heaven, right?

Mallorca in July
Talk about paradise!

Mallorca is small, about the same size as the two counties that anchor my home region of Northwest Arkansas.

But while NWA probably has more shooting ranges than it does coffee shops—including one that’s both—Mallorcans are served by a single shooting club: Club de Tiro Olímpico Mallorca.

This Arkansas boy suffered a serious case of gun culture shock at the Club de Tiro Olímpico Mallorca.

I had already moved to Spain, but I was woefully unprepared for Europe’s gun laws, so I ended up looking like a stereotypical American tourist.  

American Tourist

Needless to say, when it comes to guns, there are big differences between the US and Europe.

Navigating these differences has been a winding mountain road, but through this journey, I’ve learned that Americans have several misconceptions about European gun laws and culture, and vice versa.

But we’re all gun lovers here, so let’s learn from my mistakes and break down some barriers!  

Today, we’re going to build a small intercultural bridge by examining Europe’s gun laws and the European Firearms Directive, the twisty process for getting a Spanish firearms license (help), and the common stereotypes that perpetuate cultural misunderstandings.

Table of Contents

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A Quick Overview Of European Gun Laws

The European Union (EU) is a collection of 27 sovereign countries that stand united by a shared market and a standardized system of laws.

EU Countries
The European Union

But what does this mean for our gun-toting European comrades?

Gun laws and regulations tend to vary between the EU member states, but the acquisition and possession of firearms is ultimately dictated by the European Firearms Directive.

Individual countries have the right to adopt more aggressive laws, but they can’t scale back beyond the limits of this directive.

Per this piece of legislation, guns are divided into three categories, each with their own specific legal stipulations.

Trade Fair Switzerland
45th Arms Trade Fair in Lucerne, Switzerland (2019). Courtesy of Getty Images and The New York Times.

Category A: Prohibited Firearms

This category includes automatic firearms, explosive missiles, and launchers like mortars and RPGs.

It also encompasses penetrating rounds and guns disguised as other objects.

With rare exceptions, guns in this category are completely illegal.

Go Wild At The Warren
Go Wild At The Warren is the only place in the UK where guests can fire a real Russian RPG 7 and the 60mm M57 Mortar. Of course, the live missiles are replaced with simulation pyrotechnics. Womp Womp.

In 2016, the EU also decided to ban certain types of semiautomatic weapons, specifically ones with high-capacity magazines (more than 10 for long guns and more than 20 for handguns) and any firearms converted from automatic weapons.

Category B: Firearms Requiring A License

This category includes firearms that serve a practical purpose.

I won’t bore you with a long list of legalese. Just know that it contains all of the semiautomatic rifles and handguns not prohibited in Category A.

Firearms Requiring Registration

This is the category for antique guns, smooth bore rifles, and other collector’s items.

It also includes prop guns that only fire blanks or pyrotechnics and are used by theater or film companies.

Psychopass gun
1o points if you can guess which obscure sci-fi show this is from.

Concealed & Open Carry

Concealed carry basically doesn’t exist in Europe, with the two exceptions being Estonia and the Czech Republic.

A few countries like Poland and Hungary issue concealed carry permits, but only in special situations.

German Polizei
Armed German Polizei

There is some amount of open carry, mainly for security guards or those who transport money.

Of course, hunters can open carry, too, but specific laws determine where it’s legal and often requires that the firearm not be loaded during transit.

I’ve never seen anyone besides police and military open carrying.

Where Does That Leave Me?

After some lovely but accidental detours, I finally found the Club de Tiro Olímpico Mallorca hidden in the olive orchards of the Tramuntana foothills.

And yes, it looks just as scenic as it sounds.

Club de Tiro Olímpico Mallorca
Club de Tiro Olímpico Mallorca after a fairly recent reconstruction.

My only complaint about this excursion is that I didn’t actually get to shoot anything.

And yes, it was definitely my bad. I should have done a little more research in advance.

Live and learn, as they say.

Sobbing
I had only myself to blame…

The wonderful and patient woman manning the front desk at the Club de Tiro Olímpico Mallorca kindly explained that I needed to complete a complicated licensing process before shooting a gun at the club.

I would need to take a class and pass an exam just to shoot air-powered practice rifles. And getting the license to shoot “armas de fuego” is a year-long ordeal.

Gamo Outdoor Swarm Magnum
Gamo Outdoor Swarm Magnum .22 Air Rifle
Gamo, a popular air rifle company in Spain, manufactures great guns for new shooters.

“Of course,” she said, “If you have your shooting license from your home country, you may be able to skip some of the steps.”

She tried so hard to help me, guys!

But she didn’t mean a concealed carry permit. We were talking about rifles. Even though I’d been shooting for decades, no such license exists in Arkansas. I had nothing to show her.

Awkward

So, I need a license.

Unfortunately, that can be easier said than done. While the licensing process varies from country to country, most of them, including Spain, follow a general pattern.

Getting A License in Europe

A written exam is the first step to getting a license in Europe.

These tests are offered a few times a year in Spain, and I’m waiting for the next one right now.

84 years

Once I’ve passed this exam, I’ll receive something like a learner’s permit, which allows me to register at my local gun club to start practicing with air rifles.

I’ve already had a chance to play with these rifles (shhh), and while I initially expected a fancy airsoft gun, they’re actually much closer to a standard firearm.

On that note, if you have questions about air rifles, segue over to the 5 Best Air Rifles for Plinking & Hunting. Spoiler: the Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle topped our list!

Best Starter Air Rifle
236
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The recoil from the nitro-piston action is considerable, and it surprised me enough that I felt like a total beginner.  

Still, the main point is to learn the basics of holding and firing a gun, so for an American who’s been shooting since he was a child, the idea of practicing this way for a year can be a little discouraging.

proud and ashamed

During this time, I’ll also need to visit a doctor to get a certificate that proves I’m mentally and physically fit to use a firearm–I am.

Want to know something interesting? There are medical practices all around Spain that are more or less devoted to this.

Next, I need to pass a background check to verify that I’m not a convicted criminal–I am not.

Background Check

After a year of practicing, I’ll be able to take the practical exam. Passing this exam is the final step to getting my license.

This firearms license, along with a lot of registration paperwork, is necessary for purchasing a gun in Spain.

Fortunately, buying a firearm in and of itself is actually pretty easy.

There may not be as many dedicated gun stores like you would find in Texas, but hunting supply stores and even malls sell rifles and shotguns.

El Corte Ingles
El Corte Inglés: music, movies, furniture, books, clothes, groceries, cars, and guns!

For example, I was shocked to see the gun case on the top floor of El Corte Inglés (think Spanish J.C. Penney), just like in a sporting goods store back home. But we’ll tackle misconceptions later.

With a license, you can also theoretically purchase a firearm online or from individuals, though different regulations and a lack of demand can sometimes make this impractical.

Intro To European Gun Culture

At this point, you might be asking yourself, “If the licensing and registration process is the main legal difference between the US and Europe, why don’t more Europeans have guns?”

The answer to that question is multifaceted.

Learn On

Where do all the Westerns take place? They might be filmed in Italy, but it’s the American West that’s famous for the quick-drawing cowboy.

To be blunt, guns just aren’t a big part of the European mindset or experience—especially when compared to the gun culture that thrives in the United States.

Spanish Gun Laws

For example, except for some tribes in northern Scandinavia, I’ve never heard of a European subsistence hunting.

This doesn’t mean that Europeans don’t hunt. In fact, a Spanish friend of mine is an avid hunter, and his Mallorcan summer home is lavishly adorned with taxidermied goat bucks.

However, the ratio of game, especially large game, is much lower. Hunting is mostly just a hobby, and a much more confined one.

My friend regularly travels to Romania, Africa, and even the US to chase caza mayor.

German Hunters

In Germany, hunting is a traditional sport that is regulated by strict environment and wildlife legislation. You’ll need a hunting license, gun license, Civil Liability Insurance for Hunting, and a permit to chase after local deer, foxes, and wild boar.

No matter what sport or hobby you choose to tackle—plinking, self-defense, hunting, gun collecting, etc.—firearms just don’t play a significant role in European life.

It’s been quite the culture shock for a guy from Arkansas.

I’ve asked around, but most Europeans have zero experience with firearms and don’t even think they’re legal in their country. My contacts in the French and Spanish militaries confirmed this.  

“Most French are cool-to-lukewarm on manual firearms,” said a good friend and former legionnaire. “Very few are for semiautomatics, but I am not under the impression that the majority of the population even knows that semi-autos are legal to the majority of people.” 

La Guardia Civil
The Guardia Civil is the largest police force in Spain. These armed peacekeepers are responsible for patrolling and investigating crimes in rural areas, highways, and ports.

Another good friend in the Spanish Guardia Civil told me he’s never encountered a criminal with a gun, even though it’s plausible that they could have them.

Just knives, he told me, before regaling me with a story of a man stripped to his underwear and locked in the bathroom with a katana.

Samurai

Tackling Misconceptions

Even though there are legal and cultural disparities between the US and Europe when it comes to firearms, there are probably more misconceptions than there are differences.

As someone who’s lived around the US and in both Germany and Spain, I would say that Americans have an image of Europe as one giant gun-free zone where you need a license just to buy a butter knife.

Meanwhile, Europeans think the United States is some kind of Mad Max battle royale where everyone has miniguns mounted to their pick-up trucks.

Mad Max
One man’s hell is another man’s heaven?

Of course, neither of these stereotypes is factually true.

There is plenty of gun ownership and enthusiasm around Europe.

I know a former French police officer with a full home armory featuring an M-16, M-14, Steyr AUG, along with other things, including the legendary Belgian FAL.

I’ve met numerous hunters in Spain and Germany as well.

Small Arms Graph

And, of course, there isn’t a single idea of “gun culture” that serves as a European monolith. Some EU member states have a flourishing culture, while others are completely indifferent to firearms.

For instance, Gun ownership ranges from 2.5 firearms per 100 people in Poland and 32.4 per 100 in Finland. That’s quite the disparity.

SAKO S20
SAKO S20, a popular Finish hybrid rifle manufactured by Sako.
Finland adopted the European Firearms Directive after joining the EU in 1997. Today, there are approximately 1.5 million small arms registered throughout the country. While no firearms are outright banned, even after joining the EU, Finland did tighten its gun laws after school shootings in 2007 and 2008.

That may seem like a far cry from the American 120.5, but when you consider that states with lower gun ownership, like Delaware, may have as few as 5 guns per 100 residents, it might not be so different from home after all.

We also need to consider that most American guns are owned by a small number of enthusiasts with large collections.

Poll data from Gallup estimates that around 43% of American households own a gun.

In Switzerland, that number is 48%, so maybe it’s not as dissimilar as you thought!

Swiss President Ueli Maurer

Former Swiss President Ueli Maurer participates in a traditional shooting-skills exercise (Courtesy of Business Insider).
The Swiss love their guns and believe that arming trained citizens (we’re talking hardcore firearm training) has allowed the country to stay neutral for 200 years.

Europeans are always asking me about American gun culture. Usually, they want to know if it’s really like what they see in movies and YouTube videos.

They’re quite disappointed when I tell them that, despite being from Arkansas, one of the more gun-enthusiastic states, I’ve only seen someone open carrying once.

Where have all the cowboys gone, indeed!

Cat Gif

True and mutual understanding can only come from experience, so I highly recommend expanding your worldview with a little travel.

Well, when COVID-19 isn’t knocking on our doors, anyway.

This is the strategy that finally won my Spanish fiancée over to firearms. She got a pretty good feel for American gun culture at my grandparents’ Arizona homestead.

My cousin went to do some grocery shopping and returned with a Springfield Armory .45 like it was some new appliance he’d seen on sale.

I’ve never seen someone’s eyes bulge so far out of their head! My poor fiancée was baffled even as we went to shoot hay bales.  

Shock

Parting Shots

In the countries that comprise the European Union, the bearing of arms is a privilege, not a right.

That cultural mindset can be quite the switcheroo for someone from the United States!

Before stepping into a European shooting club, make sure to review and understand your host country’s gun laws, as well as the European Firearms Directive.

Club de Tiro Olímpico Mallorca
Club de Tiro Olímpico Mallorca

You may find that you need to complete classes and tests before getting a license to bear and fire any type of gun—air rifle or otherwise.  

And we can all benefit from a little cultural exchange.

I entered the Spanish gun scene with the vim and vigor of a typical American gunslinger, only to realize that I still had a lot to learn. And rightfully so.

Me America

Hopefully, this article will help you avoid some of my early mistakes and encourage you to shrug off old misconceptions to experience all the world has to offer.

Have you learned anything new about European gun culture? Do you have a fun story of your own to share? Please feel free to chime in below!

And if you’re interested in learning more about gun culture in other countries, don’t forget to read The Modernization & Failed Indigenization of the Indian Army and The Strange Small Arms of the Looming Venezuelan Conflict.

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40 Leave a Reply

  • JaroPL

    Actually in Poland concealed carry is not only allowed but mandatory for firearms for sport, personal defense and collection purposes (not sure about hunting). Sport and personal defense weapons can be carried loaded

    2 months ago
  • Dude-man

    1o points if you can guess which obscure sci-fi show this is from - This Pistol(weapon system) is from the TV anime series PSYCHO-PASS, it is called the ‘Dominator’ aka 45MW.TRG Dominator

    2 months ago
  • Pawel

    In Poland with have obligation to CCW if we have permission for gun-owning for sport or self-protection purposes.

    2 months ago
  • Mr. Gray

    A friend had an acquaintance (Paul) visiting from the UK. We had dinner together and as Paul, being from England, had never fired a gun I suggested we go to the range the next day. He reluctantly agreed. I brought my Glock 21 (.45) which I now know was a mistake. Far too much power for a novice. Paul watched me shoot a couple of mags, then I gave him a pretty thorough lesson on what to do. Paul stepped up to the line, looking like a real cowboy. He raised the gun and I stood behind him, helping him adjust his grip and aim. He squeezed off his first-ever shot and damn near dropped the gun. After he recovered his poise he continued and fired off a few more shots, missing the target completely from about 20 ft. He then laid the gun down and told me he felt like throwing up. Seeing this first-timer’s experience made me so glad I grew up in America and especially in the southeast. I’ve literally been shooting my whole life and I got my first gun, a 20 ga single-shot, when I was 12. It had never occurred to me how another culture might view firearms.

    2 months ago
  • Just an Old guy

    Interesting comments on training below. I'm somewhere in the middle on this - I had NRA training almost 50 years ago and since then have used that foundation to teach my kids in firearms handling and shooting. This included the use of different actions, calibers, cleaning and the rules. So yes they learned from their father. As for carrying a gun in public, (CC/OC) with a handgun, I agree it should require additional training and re-certification on say a 3 year interval. But, any initial training is only that initial. It is routine practice that you as a responsible gun owner has to make the investment in. I discourage anyone from getting a gun unless they can honestly invest the time to train and maintain proficiency. As for Europe - I had the opportunity to work there for a while and if one takes the time to read the EU's failed constitution (treaty) and know a bit about the history of the different European countries constitutions you will learn there is a very real fundamental difference. We have individual rights that has supremacy above the government- they on the most part do not. So almost everything requires a permit of one form or another.

    2 months ago
    • Fyrfighter

      I agree that regular practice is required, especially if you intend to carry, but I have a HUGE problem with the government requiring it. Anything that a government puts restrictions on is not a right, and all of the above illustrates the difference between a citizen and a subject. ANYONE that has to get government permission to own a firearm is NOT free!

      2 months ago
      • Fyrfighter

        I'm sorry, I should have added that the European attitude towards guns and government restrictions on them is that regardless of their current form of government, they have been subjects of an aristocracy since the beginning of recorded history, and as a people, know nothing different. That being said, their approach to suppressors / silencers is much more rational than ours.

        2 months ago
  • Bruce

    Good luck getting your licence! Thanks for the 'inside look' at the culture over there.

    2 months ago
  • Tom

    A little of the mark, but in regard pellet rifles: .177 or .22? Pros and cons?

    2 months ago
  • Andrew

    This will be an unpopular opinion among my American countrymen but I really think in the United States there should be more training to carry a firearm. Not just, my father taught me years ago’ bs. I mean real actual training involving experienced certified instructors. As for a civilian carrying a handgun, I believe they should have to go through the same firearm training as police officers do in order to carry. And recertifications every year. You shouldn’t be allowed to go to a store, buy a hand gun and start walking around with it like it’s some new piece of bling bling. Concealed or not.

    2 months ago
    • Jack Doyle

      I am sure the road to hell was started with good intentions. How much training does a 75 year old women need to point and pull the trigger on a revolver? Not much. Why infringe on her or others for the matter. Both Arizona and Alaska are constitutional carry states where anyone who can legally own a gun can carry it concealed. That said training is required for these states CCW which is only needed for travel to other states that honor their permits.

      2 months ago
    • Michael Fritz

      I certainly agree with training and a fair amount of practice, it’s the right thing to do. In an engagement situation there is no time to figure out how to operate your firearm and situational awareness is paramount. However, I believe it is a responsibility that should eagerly be pursued and not a condition granted by some capricious governmental agency.

      2 months ago
  • Martin Křivánek

    Thanks God I live in the Czech Republic as the concealed carry is legal here, of course only after quite strict exams (theory and practical shooting). In fact, we may be the best country concerning the ownership and carrying guns just after the USA ;-) Thank you for a very interesting article!

    2 months ago
  • heado

    Hello, Very interesting article regarding gun culture in europe. I'm french but living in luxembourg and as far i can tell you that in luxembourg it's quite "easy" to get a gun. Of course you need to be part of a shooting club and member of a sportive federation (in my case : luxembourgish federation for sport shooting) or you need to get a hunting license (more complicated). With this license in your pocket and your shooting club card you can buy either a 12 gauge (clay shooting) or a more classic gun. The trick is that in luxembourg you can only own the first year a 22LR fireamrs (in my case a glock 44 and probably a cz with a scope) and the years after you can have all caliber you want (with a maximum of 50 bmg). Now talking about the image of gun owning, depends the people its not always seen as something good. People are afraid of guns and when you are talking about CCW and personnal defense the usual argument is "but it will be like in the US, it will be the farwest" which show a huge misconception about what happening in your country. there is more and more "gun club" where you can learn tactical shooting and other fun drills (at least there is one in luxembourg) but it's still not really well considered by politicians. on an history point, i need to said that gun owning and carrying was legal in france until 1939 (WW2). But the states disarmed the citizen fearing revolution and other fun stuff. we also have (at least in france) a strong problem with "illegal" firearms. As far i know there is at least 3 to 5 times more illegal guns circulating in france than legal one. But the regulators always goes for restricting legal owners (cultural misconceptions). there is some associaiton in france that are advocating CCW for trained and selected citizen (have a look to the ARPAC : Association pour le Rétablissement du Port d'Armes Citoyen - which means association for bringing back the citizen gun carrying). gun owning is quite hard in france and in luxembourg but it's not impossible, we hope mentality will change one day or another because we are facing more and more attacks on our european way of life and model (think terrorist attacks, massive immigration, outlaws zone in our suburd) which start worrying european. there is a lot misconception and cultural difference but i hope it will change .. one day.

    2 months ago
  • Pito Perez

    I do not live in Europe, I live in Mexico where gun laws are similar to Europe. You are right most Europeans do not even know they can own guns. I remember I asked a German executive, from a company we were doing business with, if civilians were allowed to own guns in his country, his response was a strong NO. I knew he was wrong, because I like to study other countries' gun laws, but he firmly believed what he told me. He looked at me as if my question was crazy, so I did not insist in finding out more.

    2 months ago
  • David

    England has a serious problem with handguns which are easily obtained and most often used in robberies, despite 50 years of gun bans. The people are demanding their gun rights be returned. Poland's president and and Ukraine's leadership plans ti add a 2nd Amendment to their constitutions. Despite major turn-ins, Australia has found that they have no idea who has what. They only know that they exist and that thousands were turned in during the last buy back. They report a black market run out of Malaysia smuggles arms and explosives as well as Muslim illegals. I countries of Central an South America (excluding Mexico) American expatriates who adopt citizen status (not the same as giving up US citizenship) are permitted 9 guns per person in the household, or similar depending on which country. In Africa, where Europeans ran hunting for a couple of centuries, with hunters and tourists from around the globe. There are so many variables in histories that people look at firearms differently. Japan allows firearms but most Japanese would not consider having any. The peoples of EU have histories of royalty where only royalty was permitted, or could afford, guns or to hunt "the kings deer". Following WW1, guns disappeared, but reappeared at the outbreak of WW2 for use of the underground. No reason to think there may not be caches today. While I understand that things are different, two countries should not be cited as being the same across the EU. The breakup of the USSR brought about changes in the minds of peoples who never wanted to be under such oppression again. I do understand how they view America. Growing up in Scotland, I went to movies and was often asked if what my friends saw was how it really was. In their minds, all we had in America were cowboys and indians and "men that fought the Japs" (we didn't do anything in Europe). Many of our tv shows were aired, like "Gun Law" staring James Arness as Marshal Dillon. I can only wonder what they think of us today with the crap our networks carry which make us all look inbred.

    2 months ago
  • matt

    I think its because europe was traditionally ruled by absolute monarchs and they didnt want an armed populace.

    2 months ago
  • John T Turner

    I’m also a member of a sanctioned Swiss shooting club. Matches are all 300 meters rested. Most rifles are K 31s. If you shoot a qualifying score you’ll get a medal from Switzerland. There’s a reason why Germany never invaded Switzerland. Gen Guisan told some Nazi general who threatened to invade Switzerland with 3mm soldiers that he’d give each Swiss soldier (abt 1mm) at peak three rounds. After they fired them they would go home. Nuff said. America wake up!

    2 months ago
  • Steve Doudle

    Very interesting read. You may also want to look at how Australia treats guns. I am an avid owner and shooter at my local pistol club and shoot as often as possible. Which at the moment is not at all due to the closure of all facilities in Victoria due to Covit 19. The restrictions and compliance needed to own handguns here are more stringent that that of Europe. The last time I was in Hawaii at a local gun shop the owners were flabigasted at the Australian requirements, much so that they added that they added it would be al too hard and not worth the bother. My handguns are locked in an approved safe in a locked box, the keys to the safe are in one location and the keys to the locked gun box is in another safe. Ammunition is located in another safe with the keys located separately from al other keys. We get checked and visited by Police Firearms Section at least once per year to ensure we are compliant to all ownership, storage and range shoots requirements. USA have it easy in my opinion, but from my perception your gun culture is vastly different from Australia. Keep up the good work guys, I am an avid folower.

    2 months ago
  • John T Turner

    I’ll add this. I met a German family at Front Sight in Pahrump NV. Mom, dad and two teens. Their vacation included a four day handgun course! They also had a ball shooting an MP 5 and a Thompson sub gun. Can’t do that in Germany!! Kinda odd in a way. I love Sigs, Steyr rifles and Glocks! Be grateful if you live in America esp if you live in a pro gun state!

    2 months ago
  • John T Turner

    In 2015 I went roe deer hunting in Scotland Deer hunting is called deer stalking over there. Left my guns at home. I also discovered archery hunting in Great Britain is forbidden. Guess it is too painful for an animal to bleed out. Anyway I hunted on two huge estates each managed by a game manager whose primary job is killing foxes and a type of sea gull that eats grouse eggs. Grouse hunting is a big money maker for the estate owners Rifles used were both Sako 243s topped with Swarovski scopes and both were suppressed. No problem in GB with that. Both gamekeepers were avid handloaders I also discovered that hunting deer, stags and birds is popular in GB. Rules? No handguns. No semi autos. Max 10 guns in your possession. One gamekeeper had a 338 Lapua!! Guns must be kept in a safe, locked, and electronically monitored at the sheriffs dept If the safe isn’t opened properly the alarm sounds in the sheriffs office. Had fun. Bagged two roe deer one of which was a silver medal.

    2 months ago
  • Michael

    Several years ago I was in Germany visiting my sister who worked for Uncle Sam. Her hair dresser’s boy friend was a big shooting enthusiast. Upon hearing that I shoot USPSA matches became adamant that I come to the shooting club he belonged to. They had single shot air pistols. I had never shot an air pistol before and was surprised at the accuracy though the sights were off a fair distance. I found that aiming about 6 inches low and to the right I could keep all hits in the black. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the guys checking out my discarded targets. Afterward we spent a considerable time shooting the breeze and drinking beer and complaining about gun laws, just like we do here! The Germans were a great bunch of guys! Not really different than folks here.

    2 months ago
  • Marcia Mason

    Thanks! Excellent article! I'd been wondering about how they handled it. I tried to talk about guns one time in Germany, and they laughed and called me "cowboy" from then on. I was truly embarrassed.

    2 months ago
    • Dan R

      Don't be embarrassed, because you are free from the invisible chains that bound your German friends. They are held in those chains because they are ignorant of what real freedom is, and who could blame them. Raised cradle to the grave in a world where the state has the exclusive monopoly on violence.

      2 months ago
  • Len C

    QUOTE: firearms just don’t play a significant role in European life.. . . . . . . . Thus a big reason why the USA came to be involved with 2 World Wars. We like guns and know how to shoot them, especially at the bad guys of those times.

    2 months ago
  • Charles Littrell

    Interesting article. You might want to do a similar one on Australia. It's fairly easy to get a licence for a hunting or target/competition rifle or shotgun, provided they aren't semi-automatic. You must demonstrate a valid purpose (fairly straightforward) and pass some basic training, plus demonstrate that each firearm and the ammunition/magazines are securely stored. It's also reasonably straightforward to acquire pistols (up to ten round magazines), but takes a year or so to get through all the steps. Relative to America, the required training, safe storage, and valid purpose hurdles make sense. Australians still have several million firearms, there is a lot of sport hunting as well as professional pest management, and Aussies quite often do well in international shooting competitions. The Australian shooters who are unhappy about this tend to be the ones who want to own man-killing equipment such as ARs. No thanks; happy to leave those with the police.

    2 months ago
  • Jack Doyle

    I held a firearms license in Panama and carried concealed there for 5 years. The licensing process was similar to that described herein. For an Alaskan the process was a bit mind boggling. In order to even apply there were stipulations, piles of paperwork, and you needed psychological evaluation and give a DNA (blood) sample. We got ours exam from a psychiatrist, which together with the paperwork allowed us to purchased the gun(s) (Walter PPKs) which they keep for ballistic testing. Took about 6 months to shot the gun and get a bullet to keep on file, but after tht we were armed and legal. Bought a couple Ruger 9mm while grocery shopping at 3 Bears in Wasilla. Occasionally we would get European bear hunters, mostly Germans, that came to Kodiak which I found interesting to talk with about hunting and firearms. One German in particular was very knowledgeable and explained some of these requirements that included various still tests such as the Running Boar, etc. Those passing these tests were awarded metals that they wore pined to their hunting hats. Great guy I gave him the 10 round leather belt carrier for my 338 Win Mag ammo that he admired. Anyway his ammo, don't recall the caliber, fit perfectly.

    2 months ago
    • Andersson

      My guess is that was in 9.3x62.

      2 months ago
  • Taylor

    Psycho pass babyyyy

    2 months ago
    • Danielle Villegas

      10 points to you! You have an excellent eye (and taste in great shows).

      2 months ago
  • Pat Murphy

    as someone who went to Northern Arizona University, friends living in Scottsdale, Prescott, Havasu, Kingman can confirm a Springfield 1911 .45 government can magically end up in the grocery bag

    2 months ago
  • Mark Everett

    A very interesting article. Well written, informative and funny...or fun to read. I was under some of the same preconceptions that you mention, so it was illuminating to learn how it actually works. Personally, I think that the US could take some lessons from how it is done in the EU. By which I mean some mandatory training. I too had an Arizona experience. Even though I lived there for many years, the only time I carried was going to the range (or desert) to shoot. After many years away I returned for a visit. At the grocery store, a man was helping his grandmother at the checkout lane and when he bent over to get something, his shirt lifted and there was a Glock, tucked into his belt. I stepped back and then smiled to myself...yeah, I was in Arizona.

    2 months ago
  • NAC

    I was reading the article and then I saw the face off from The Good The Bad and The Ugly with the Cat as well. I simply cracked up. Had the best laugh for last few years after that ! Thanks! Its so funny especially the Cat !

    2 months ago
  • Giovanni

    Do you understand how frustrating it is for us, gun lovers, then? :(

    2 months ago
  • JurekOgurek

    As a Polish I'd like to mention that concealed carry isn't as exceptional as you wrote in the article. The most popular legal permit in Poland is "sport and collection". Owning this kind of licence allows you to conceled carry with round in the chamber. I carry every day.

    2 months ago
  • Kevin Tham

    An interesting article about Euro gun laws! I wonder how different it would be in Czechia--from what I've heard their gun culture seems the "closest" to that in the US. (Also the 10 points gun is from Psycho-Pass!)

    2 months ago
    • Danielle Villegas

      (Good eye, friend! 10 points to you!)

      2 months ago
  • ethan

    This article was awesome! Very interesting and informative.

    2 months ago
  • Rob

    OMG, didn´t know Spain was this terrible, sounds a lot like the strict Italian rules. I live in Austria, it is way easier here, not even close to Spain. A license is only necessary for semi-auto, most rifles of any calibre are free to buy if you are 18yo. But every year it gets stricter, so it will get harder and harder to practice this hobby.

    2 months ago
  • Chris

    Glad to see someone repping NWA! I graduated from the Fulbright College at U of A last year. Great write up, looking forward to more!

    2 months ago
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