National Approaches to
While there is evidence of emerging norms regarding firearm legislation, the approaches in various countries are wide ranging. Between 2001 and 2005, more than fifty countries introduced stronger gun laws. Only one— the United States—relaxed its controls. The following pages provide some snapshots of approaches to regulating firearms in countries from around the world.
As discussed previously, while there is evidence of emerging global norms concerning minimal standards for firearm regulation, an examination of national approaches reveals significant variations in the laws which have evolved in particular contexts. History, culture, politics and legal traditions all play a role in shaping the evolution of laws. Socioeconomic conditions, governance, policing and justice systems often play a role in shaping the ways in which laws are implemented.
The evaluation of the impact of policy changes in any context is difficult because of the interplay of multiple factors—particularly when longitudinal analysis is being undertaken. Even where policy interventions can in some ways be isolated and measured, the way in which they are implemented often shapes the outcomes. Another factor is the gap between laws as they are intended and laws as they are implemented. Often there are loopholes that undermine their effectiveness. Sometimes laws are passed without the resources, political will or ability to implement them appropriately. Moreover, in many contexts—for example the United States—the potential impact of strong laws in one jurisdiction is undermined by weaker laws in other jurisdictions as guns move across state borders. This phenomenon is also seen internationally where one country's efforts to implement stronger laws may be undermined by the flow of guns from countries without effective controls. The reality is that outside of the United States, there is relatively limited peer-reviewed literature even describing gun laws