European Firearm Regulations


Active Member
Feb 17, 2021
Cheyenne, WY
Just thought I'd toss this out. It's been 20+ years but once upon a time I lived and worked in Europe for a bit over 5 years; Bavaria and the Netherlands (Holland) but mostly in the Flemish region of Belgium. I was a private contractor Harley technician.
Belgium is great, awesome food, over 2000 types of beer and ale, and full of history because at one time or another just about everybody has invaded and/or occupied it. Huns, Celts, Romans, Vikings, Spain, France, Germany, England, etc., etc,.
Belgium like many European countries has a mandatory service requirement so almost all able bodied males have to serve a minimum of 18 months. Quite a few women sign up too. This means that a large part of the population has at least a basic understanding of firearms and since I like firearms I had a lot of discussions about them with everybody from police and military people to just regular folks.
They were appalled at the amount of firearm related crime and violence in the States but at the same time wished they had our 2nd Amendment rights or at least a set up like Switzerland has though everybody I spoke with always said that even if they could have firearms like we do proper training should be mandatory because it's key to safe ownership and usage.
Criminals had firearms but there weren't any drive by shootings or other firearm related violence in public like here so while you would read or hear about a gang member getting whacked it was usually done professionally and privately and rarely around innocent bystanders. Bad for business.
The occasional episode involving extremists or crazies with firearms did occur but they were a rarity and were swiftly and harshly responded to and dealt with.
To legally own a firearm in Belgium you first have to pass an in depth background check similar to getting an FFL here in the States. If you pass you can then apply to take an intensive firearm safety and shooting course at one of the government authorized shooting club ranges using club firearms. There are no other types of shooting ranges except for a few private ones on rich folks estates but even they have to be government inspected and approved.
Once you pass the course you can apply for two certificates; one to purchase a firearm and the other to purchase ammunition for the firearm. You can only purchase ammo for the caliber of your firearm. If you have more than one firearm you have to have a separate certificate for each firearm and each caliber. All this paperwork and training took time and was expensive and all firearms and their owners are in a national registry. Germany and the Netherlands have similar set ups.
The police can, but rarely do, come around and inspect your firearms and ammo at any time to make sure you only have what you're authorized to have and that they are properly stored. If you get in trouble with the law, even if it's something relatively minor like to many traffic citations, your certificates can be put on hold or terminated and your firearms can be confiscated. When you die you cannot just leave your firearms and ammo to your wife, kids, relatives, or friends unless they are authorized to own firearms. Certain types of ammo can be reloaded but again all the components are strictly regulated.
Getting busted with illegal firearms and/or ammo usually results in an automatic lengthy prison sentence.
Now the odd thing I found was that despite the strict regulations and penalties many people had black market firearms and ammo. Mostly shotguns and handguns in common calibers though there were quite a few AKs stashed.
They were never taken out and shot but the people had them because of their history. Like I said just about everybody has invaded and/or occupied Belgium at one time or another so they know what happens when things go extremely sideways. Government agencies like police forces disintegrate or disappear and chaos and anarchy reign so they've taken it upon themselves to be prepared because in their minds it's not "if" another war or revolution will happen but "when".
Ride Safe. Dr.Tramp..............