Europe is still far from facing the gun prevalence and violence in Latin America or the U.S., which lead the world. World-wide civilian ownership of firearms rose 32% in the decade through 2017, to 857.3 million guns, according to the Small Arms Survey, a research project in Geneva. Europe accounts for less than 10% of the total.
But Europe's shift has been rapid, and notable in part because of strict national restrictions. In most European countries, gun permits require thorough background checks, monitored shooting practice and tests on regulations. In Belgium, France and Germany, most registered guns may only be used at shooting ranges. Permits to bear arms outside of shooting ranges are extremely difficult to obtain.
Strict registration requirements don't account for—and may exacerbate—a surge in illegal weapons across the continent, experts say.
Europe's unregistered weapons outnumbered legal ones in 2017, 44.5 million to 34.2 million, according to the Small Arms Survey. Many illegal weapons come from one-time war zones, such as countries of the former Yugoslavia, and others are purchased online, including from vendors in the U.S.
Gun ownership is both expensive and tedious in Europe. The governments have done everything they could to take all the fun out of it. But despite that social and legal oppression, people are still buying them. Legally, or illegally. Gun control doesn't work,, not even in Holy Europe the land of Big Brother.