As a result of the many mass shootings that occur in public places, the argument for and against gun regulation in the United States has grown and waned throughout time. In the US, the number one killer of children and young people is gun violence. After numerous school shootings that left multiple people dead, most recently in Uvalde, Texas, the nation has been discussing several issues, including the ease with which assault weapons and ammunition are readily available. Despite strong public support for new restrictions, Congress has repeatedly failed to enact meaningful gun legislation in the wake of these tragedies.

Some of the worst gun violence in American history has occurred in recent years. The number of Americans killed by guns in 2021 exceeded 45,000, the greatest number in decades, and the trend toward greater deaths is expected to continue.

Many proponents of gun control believe that the United States should learn from the affluent, democratic nations that have implemented stricter regulations to reduce gun violence. 


By Amelia Cheatham and Lindsay Maizland, How Police Compare in Different Democracies

Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware’s The Public Should Be Warned When a Rampage Is UnderwayThe Second Amendment of the Constitution, which states that “A well-regulated Militia, being essential to the security of a free State, the right of the people. 

According to the most recent Small Arms Survey data, despite having less than 5% of the world’s population, the United States has 46% of all civilian firearms (2018). In terms of firearms per person, it comes in first. Among the most industrialised countries in the world, the United States has the highest rate of gun-related homicides. Many supporters of gun rights claim that these facts do not show a cause-and-effect link.

The right to keep and carry arms is not unrestricted, though. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld some firearms restrictions, such as bans on the possession of certain types of weapons and on carrying concealed weapons, as well as restrictions on the sale of guns to specific groups of people. The U.S. Congress and state legislatures have the power to enact controlling legislation. The Gun Control Act of 1968 forbids the purchase of weapons by those under the age of 18, felons, people with mental disabilities, people who have been dishonourably dismissed from the military, and others. Background checks were required in 1993 by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act for any unlicensed people buying firearms from federally recognised dealers.

However, several firearms bans have fallen victim to court review. For instance, the Supreme Court issued its first decision on the Second Amendment in nearly 70 years in 2008 when it overturned a Washington, DC, ordinance that prohibited handguns. 

Although states and towns may impose further limits, federal law serves as the foundation for gun legislation in the United States. Although additional study is needed, several studies have shown that jurisdictions with stricter gun laws, like California or Hawaii, had lower rates of gun fatalities.

Congress has debated gun control reform in recent years, usually soon after a high-profile mass shooting, like the one in Las Vegas in 2017 (which claimed 60 lives) or the one in Parkland, Florida, in 2018. (seventeen killed). However, legislation has nearly never been successful in getting enough support. Unsuccessful proposals have called for restrictions on assault weapons, broader background checks, and the sale of firearms to those on federal watch lists for terrorism. 

There was no federal legislation prohibiting military-style semiautomatic assault guns as of mid-2022.

Large-capacity magazines, handguns, or rifles chambered in calibre 50. Additionally, there was no government requirement that persons buying guns complete any kind of instruction in weapon safety.Between 1994 to 2004, assault rifles and large-capacity magazines were illegal under federal law, but Congress permitted these bans to end.


With roughly 35 firearms per 100 persons (ranked sixth internationally), gun ownership is likewise rather high in Canada, but gun violence is not as prevalent there. Similar to the United States, Canada’s federal government establishes gun regulations that may be supplemented by the provinces, territories, and municipalities. In addition, Canada’s gun regulations have frequently been influenced by gun violence, just as its southern neighbour. At a Montreal engineering school in 1989, a student with a semiautomatic rifle killed fourteen students and wounded over a dozen others. Major gun regulations, including a twenty-eight day waiting period for sales, required safety training programmes, and more thorough background checks, are largely recognised as being the result of the tragedy. large-capacity magazine prohibitions, as well as tougher limitations on military-style weapons and ammunition, are also suggested.

In Canada, there are three categories of firearms: non restricted weapons, such as regular rifles and shotguns; restricted weapons, like pistols and semiautomatic rifles or shotguns; and illegal weapons, like automatic weapons. A fully automatic weapon cannot be owned unless it was registered before 1978.

With the passage of new legislation in 1995, people were now required to register all firearms and get a licence before purchasing firearms and ammunition. The necessity to register unrestricted firearms, however, was repealed in 2012 and the associated public records were erased. Following a second mass shooting in 2017, this time at a mosque in Quebec City, the government passed a bill requiring the registration of all non-restricted firearms and allowing background checks to take events occurring more than five years prior into account. Following Canada’s greatest mass shooting in which a gunman killed 22, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared a ban on “assault-style” weapons in 2020. Additionally, the law mandated either buyback participation or harsh storage rules for anybody who still had now-illegal firearms.Australia

The Port Arthur Massacre of 1996, in which a young man killed 35 people and injured almost two dozen others, served as the turning point for contemporary gun restrictions in Australia. The shooting spree was the worst mass shooting in American history and was carried out with a semiautomatic weapon. Less than two weeks later, the conservative-led federal government worked with the several states and territories that control weapons to enact significant revisions to the nation’s gun regulations. 

The National Agreement on Firearms [PDF] established a temporary gun buyback programme that removed approximately 650,000 assault rifles from circulation (roughly one-sixth of the national stock), all but outlawed automatic and semiautomatic assault rifles, and required licensing and registration. The statute mandated that licensees complete a firearm safety course and provide proof of a “genuine necessity” for a certain type of firearm. Australia’s firearm restrictions were again strengthened in response to a second high-profile massacre that occurred in Melbourne in 2002. Many observers cited decreases in gun-related fatalities and mass shootings as evidence that these policies were quite effective.

However, Australian gun control campaigners cautioned against loosening gun rules in some states and territories after a spike in gun purchases in 2017. The alleged murder-suicide of a family of seven in Western Australia, the nation’s deadliest mass shooting in twenty years, has had an impact on the conversation around gun safety. The quantity of guns in Australia is higher now than it was before the Port Arthur massacre, despite a decrease in the number of gun owners during that time.


In Israel, military duty is required, and many Israelis live their daily lives around weaponry. Being a soldier, reservist, or having a relative who is one gives a large portion of the population indirect access to an assault weapon. By legislation, following high school, the majority of 18-year-olds are conscripted into the military, psychologically evaluated, and given at least some weapons training. However, the majority of Israelis are released from the military after two or three years of service and are then subject to civilian gun rules.

The nation has comparatively strong gun control laws, such as a ban on assault weapons, a requirement to register possession with the government, and a cap of one gun per owner. An applicant for a gun licence must be an Israeli citizen or lawful permanent resident, be able to communicate in Hebrew, which is Israel’s official language, and be in good physical health. The minimum age requirements vary: citizens without military or national service experience must be at least 27 years old, veterans must be 21 years old, and non-citizen permanent residents must be at least 45 years old. A valid reason for carrying a firearm, such as self-defence or hunting, must also be demonstrated by applicants.

A ban on assault weapons, a requirement to register ownership with the government, and a limit of one gun per owner are just a few of the country’s relatively strict gun control measures. An Israeli citizen or lawful permanent resident must be able to converse in Hebrew, which is Israel’s official language, and must be in good physical health in order to apply for a gun licence. Different groups must meet different minimum age requirements: veterans must be 21 years old, citizens without prior military or national service experience must be at least 27 years old, and non-citizen permanent residents must be at least 45 years old. Also required is proof that applicants have a legal justification—such as self-defence or hunting—for carrying a firearm.

Britain’s harshest gun prohibitions to date were inspired by a gun-related tragedy that occurred in the Scottish town of Dunblane in 1996. In the nation’s worst mass shooting to history, a man with four handguns opened fire, killing sixteen schoolchildren and one adult before turning the weapons on himself. The tragedy gave rise to the Snowdrop Petition, a popular movement that helped pass legislation largely outlawing handguns. The government also implemented a short-term gun buyback scheme, which many attribute with eliminating the supply of tens of thousands of illicit or unnecessary firearms. 

In contrast to their colleagues in the United States and other nations, the majority of police officers in the UK do not carry firearms. Only properly trained police forces that respond to certain emergencies or deploy for particular types of operations are allowed to carry guns. The unarmed officer, according to those who support the idea, represents policing the public through permission rather than through force.


Before a right-wing terrorist killed 77 people in assaults in Oslo and at an island summer camp in 2011, where gun regulations are seen as strict but ownership rates are high, gun control had rarely been a major political issue in Norway. According to the Small Arms Survey, Norway has the fourteenth-highest gun ownership rate in the world, yet its rate of gun homicides is among the lowest. (The rate in the United States is about 44 times greater.) Like the British, the majority of Norwegian police do not carry weapons.

After the tragedy, some experts in the US pointed to the shooting as evidence that strong gun controls are necessary. In Norway, for example, applicants must be at least eighteen years old, provide a “legitimate cause” for owning a gun, and acquire a permit before purchasing a firearm.a valid government licence—are useless. Other opponents of gun restriction have asserted that if other Norwegians—including the police—had been armed, the shooter may have been apprehended sooner and responsible for fewer casualties. 

An independent commission made several recommendations for strengthening Norway’s gun laws following the massacre, including banning handguns and semiautomatic weapons, but no changes were adopted. A ban on semiautomatic weapons was adopted by the Norwegian parliament in 2018 and went into effect in 2021.


Gun control proponents frequently point to Japan’s incredibly tight gun laws and the nation’s incredibly low gun death rate. In a nation of 125 million people, less than one hundred Japanese each year are killed by gun violence. The majority of firearms are prohibited in the nation, and the relatively low ownership rates reflect this.

Shotguns, air guns, firearms used in competitions, firearms with special scientific or industrial objectives, and swords are the only types of weapons recognised under Japan’s firearm and sword law [PDF]. Prior to being allowed access to these specialised weapons, one must complete official training, pass a battery of written, mental, and drug exams, as well as a thorough background investigation. Additionally, owners must disclose to the authorities how they store their guns and ammunition.

submit their weapons for yearly examination.

Some observers relate Japan’s distaste for guns to the country’s post-World War II demilitarisation. Some claim that because there is little crime overall in Japan, most people don’t feel the need for guns.

suggested sources

This Backgrounder investigates how American law enforcement measures up to that of other developed democracies.

One of the most potent political organisations in the United States, the National Rifle Association, is profiled in the New York Times Magazine.

According to Katherine Leach-Kemon and Laurent Grosvenor’s article for CFR’s Think Global Health, there isn’t much of a link between mental health and gun violence, and policymakers should instead concentrate on other risk factors like alcohol consumption and intimate partner violence. 

The increase in handgun sales in the US at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak is being looked into by the Brookings Institution

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