The Regulation of Firearms
While gun control is extremely controversial in the United States, with opposition to even basic regulation such as licensing and registration, a review of legislation around the world shows that the norms in most countries, both industrialized and developing, are to strictly regulate civilian possession of firearms. In addition, a number of international agreements and resolutions provide support for regulating firearms in both postconflict and peaceful settings. This chapter reviews the principles and limitations of the regulation of firearms, components of firearm regulation, case studies of selected countries and existing international agreements and resolutions.
Regulation of civilian possession of firearms is intended to reduce the risk that legally acquired firearms will be misused or diverted to illegal markets. The effectiveness of laws in shaping behavior is always a result of a complex interaction of factors. Although the levels of firearm violence in a country are in general linked to the restrictiveness of the country's laws, there are exceptions. Some countries with relatively permissive laws have rates of violence lower than countries with restrictive laws.
The success of efforts to regulate civilian possession of firearms is influenced by many factors. Extensive voluntary compliance is generally essential for effective firearm regulation, particularly when a large percentage of the population is in possession of firearms. Voluntary compliance is generally seen in contexts where the majority of the population is law-abiding and regards the law as appropriate and fair. Although strenuous opposition from a vocal minority commonly accompanies efforts to strengthen