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​​​​​​​Regulation of civilian firearms


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Regulation of civilian firearms
Barring a few exceptions, most countries in the world allow civilians to purchase firearms subject to certain restrictions. A 2011 survey of 28 countries over five continents found that a major distinction between different national regimes of firearm regulation is whether civilian gun ownership is seen as a right or a privilege. The study concluded that both the United States and Yemen were distinct from the other countries surveyed in viewing firearm ownership as a basic right of civilians and in having more permissive regimes of civilian gun ownership. In the remaining countries included in the sample, civilian firearm ownership is considered a privilege and the legislation governing possession of firearms is correspondingly more restrictive.

International and regional civilian firearm regulation
At the international and regional level, diplomatic attention has tended to focus on the cross-border illegal trade in small arms as an area of particular concern rather than the regulation of civilian-held firearms. During the mid-1990s, however, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a series of resolutions relating to the civilian ownership of small arms. These called for an exchange of data on national systems of firearm regulation and for the initiation of an international study of the issue. In July 1997, ECOSOC issued a resolution that underlined the responsibility of UN member states to competently regulate civilian ownership of small arms and which urged them to ensure that their regulatory frameworks encompassed the following aspects: firearm safety and storage; penalties for the unlawful possession and misuse of firearms; a licensing system to prevent undesirable persons from owning firearms; exemption from criminal liability to promote the surrender by citizens of illegal, unsafe or unwanted guns; and, a record-keeping system to track civilian firearms. In 1997, the UN published a study based on member state survey data titled the United Nations International Study on Firearm Regulation which was updated in 1999. This study was meant to initiate the establishment of a database on civilian firearm regulations which would be run by the Centre for International Crime Prevention, located in Vienna. who were to report on national systems of civilian firearm regulation every two years. These plans never reached fruition and further UN-led efforts to establish international norms for the regulation of civilian-held firearms were stymied. Responding to pressure from the U.S. government, any mention of the regulation of civilian ownership of small arms was removed from the draft proposals for the 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms.
Although the issue is no longer part of the UN policy debate, since 1991 there have been eight regional agreements involving 110 countries concerning aspects of civilian firearm possession. The Bamako Declaration, was adopted in Bamako, Mali, on 1 December 2000 by the representatives of the member states of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The provisions of this declaration recommend that the signatories would establish the illegal possession of small arms and light weapons as a criminal offence under national law in their respective countries.

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