For those in the United States, Europe is often seen as a bastion of draconian anti-gun legislation. That is, until you see the liberal Czech Republic gun laws.
The Czech Republic hasn’t had it easy in recent years and has been under the grip of oppressive regimes for five decades.
The definition of out of the frying pan and into the fryer, they escaped the brutality of Nazi occupation only to be thrown into decades of ruthless Communist control.
During both eras under Fascism and Communism, the right to bear arms was forbidden for ordinary citizens and reserved for those who were firmly loyal to the party in control.
Today, the right to obtain and bear arms and use them in self-defence is seen as a vital aspect of liberty for the Czech people and is part of the country’s constitution.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of legal arms ownership in the Czech Republic for locals and foreigners alike. Prepare to be amazed, gun fans!
The Czech Republic & 600 Years of The Right to Bear Arms
The declaration of independence, and the right to bear arms, were written in 1776. But sorry, my dear Americans, but the Czech Republic was way ahead of you!
The forefathers of Czech gun ownership were a band of religious freedom fighters called the Hussite militia in the 1400s.
Owning primitive early firearms was vital during the Hussite Wars. It took just under 100 years, but the 1517 Wenceslaus Agreement affirmed the right for civilian gun ownership in Bohemia (modern Czech Republic).
For the next 600 years, owning a gun was a god-given right for the Czech people until the Nazis and Communists occupied the country and introduced their anti-gun oppression.
Following the collapse of Communist Czechoslavia in 1989, the new Czech constitution valued civilian gun ownership as equal to democratic elections and freedom of speech.
But wait a minute, I hear you ask. I’m not Czech. Why do I care? Well, my foreign friend, read on to see why!
Can Foreigners Own Guns in the Czech Republic?
Depending on which country you’re from, foreigners can own guns in the Czech Republic as long as they’re a resident of the country or another EU state.
As long as you meet certain minor requirements, your right to bear arms in the Czech Republic hardly differs from that of a Czech passport holder. These requirements are:
- Be over the age of 18.
- If you’re a citizen of an EU country, a European Economic Area state or Switzerland (You can also be a citizen of a NATO country).
- If you’ve been issued permanent residency in the Czech Republic.
- International asylum seekers who’ve had their application to remain in the Czech Republic approved.
For those who fall outside of these categories, you can still apply, but it’s the decision of the Czech police to approve you or not.
Of course, Czech or foreigner, there’s a process to go through before you can buy that gun you’ve always wanted. But it’s exceptionally straightforward!
What Guns Can You Own?
From CZ pistols to Kalashnikovs and rifles to carbines, there’s a huge range of weaponry on offer to civilians in the Czech Republic.
When it comes to rifles and carbines, all are semi-automatic. Automatic weapons are forbidden for civilians.
One of the most popular guns across gun owners is the PAR MK3 Rifle. This domestically produced AR-15-style weapon is ideal for both sport shooting and self defense, particularly home defence.
How To Get a Czech Firearms License
The process of getting a Czech firearms license can be simplified into three steps: Criminal background check, residency documents, and two tests.
The criminal background check can easily be obtained through your home country, translated, and notarized. Your residency documents simply require a photocopy.
The hardest part is the written and practical exams. If you have basic firearms knowledge, you’ll breeze through them.
If you don’t, it might be a struggle unless you take some shooting lessons beforehand. I highly suggest hiring a local Czech translator to walk you through this process.
Where Can You Shoot in The Czech Republic?
According to Czech law, you can fire guns within licensed shooting ranges. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, such as hunting or self-defence.
The good news is that the country is home to over 200 registered ranges where the public can shoot guns.
Even those without a license are welcome to come in and hire weapons with a supervising instructor.
Interestingly, the Czech Republic is home to the oldest gun range in Europe. Mariánská skála is a shooting range that’s been operating since 1617.
What Do People Mostly Use Their Guns For?
Whilst in most European states with relaxed gun laws, the most common reason for owning a firearm is for hunting. In the Czech Republic, the main reason is self-defence.
Like some U.S. states, Czech Republic gun laws allow people to own a concealed carry license, and most gun owners in the country do.
What Are The Gun Crime Statistics Like There?
Ok, time to deal with the elephant in the room. Let me provide you with some fuel for your next gun control debate!
This country arguably has some of the most relaxed gun laws across the EU, so how are the gun crime stats there? Well, the answer is pretty low!
Since the collapse of Communism, gun ownership has surged across the country. In sync, homicides have gradually dropped, as these statistics show.
Legal firearms make up some of the most uncommon weapons used by criminals in homicides across the country.
In Summary, Czech Republic Gun Laws Have Earned The Country The Nickname of The Texas of Europe!
It’s no secret that Europe isn’t the best place to be a firearms enthusiast, but the Czech Republic is an underrated bastion of gun rights that few people know about.
The tolerant attitude towards civilian gun ownership often leads to the country being called “The Texas of Europe.”