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Old February 3, 2016, 03:59 PM   #1
Snejdarek
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Czechs buying guns in unprecedented rate

The 2015 legal firearm ownership statistics are out in the Czech Republic and, not surprisingly, the number of firearms bought by Czechs has risen by unprecedented number - 54.300 new guns.

For those who don't know anything about the Czech gun laws, follow the link. Basics: one needs a license to own a gun in the country. Licenses are shall issue, including CCW (also for NATO country citizens, i.e. for Americans).

Relative to population, that is akin to Americans buying 1.7 million new guns. Relative to number of gun owners (which is 3% of Czech population and according to this 47% of American population), it is akin to Americans buying 25 million new guns (please feel free to correct me on this).

What is somewhat surprising is the fact that the actual number of the gun owners in the Czech Republic remained unchanged (it is actually lower by 200 people). Here are some numbers for the past few years:

Number of registered firearms
2011: 706.900
2012: 721.054
2013: 736.405
2014: 752.387
2015: 806.895

Number of licensed gun owners.
2011: 311.667
2012: 306.815
2013: 292.976
2014: 292.283
2015: 292.022

Here's some older graph:


Some explanations of these number - in my humble opinion:

1. Falling number of gun owners.

A. Failed renewals
Firearms licenses are shall issue and are issued for a period of 5 years. To renew a license, a person needs to (1) get a stamp from general practitioner and (2) file for renewal. Some people forget to do so (not many - police actually send out letters kindly inviting you not to forget to renew your license in time), many simply decide they don't want/need guns any more (especially older people who have hunting licenses and are not up to hunting any more and at the same time live in a safe enough areas that they conclude they don't need a gun for HD).

B. DUI
In order to keep a license, a person may not commit specified misdemeanors and any intentional crime. Since gun owners are more law abiding than general population (like in US), this would not slice the numbers much. However, for years, having DUI has been a reason for loss of firearms license. Only in past several years, however, the police started connecting their databases of DUIs with database of gun owners. Czech Republic is no Russia in DUI regard, however in a country where drinking is extremely socially acceptable and drugs are decriminalized, it is easy to see why this may have some effect on number of licensed gun owners.

C. Czech Republic is a safe country
Despite all the terror attacks, Russian invasion of Ukraine and mass muslim immigration to neighboring Austria and Germany, none of these had any effect on general safety in the Czech Republic. Prague remains one of the European safest cities and most immigration to the country is legal from Ukraine and Vietnam - on work permits. Getting gun license is a process that mostly requires passing a firearms exam, getting a stamp from general practitioner and most people simply don't feel the need to own a gun.

D. It takes time to get a license now
That being said, the migrant wave did have impact on the number of firearms applications. The wave, however, culminated in September. As many new applications were lodged, the number of exams opened catered to the typical situation, i.e. the exams for October-December may have been filled up completely, but with very little effect on the overall number of licenses issued. Since the examiners are licensed private persons, i.e. it is in their best interest to have as many exams opened as possible, there are currently in Prague alone 6 times more exams opened than in the same time last year. Still, the exams are full at least 3-4 months in advance (while two years ago, it would be enough to sign up a couple of weeks in advance). Thus the rise in demand for new licenses will be mostly seen in this years' statistics.

Once the formalities are fulfilled, the police have 30 days to issue the license (i.e. do background check). Last person I know that had one issued after 2 weeks.

E. First mass shooting didn't lead to stricter gun control.
Czech Republic had its first mass shooting in February last year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uhersk..._Brod_shooting

Immediately after it happened, several people with no interest to guns told me something along the line "I need to get license before the tighten the rules."

However, within a couple of weeks it become clear that no such thing will happen. I myself was very surprised by the fact that there have been no vocal gun control voices in the government following this incident. Although there is a proposal for change of the Firearms Act in the parliament now, the changes are quite timid - licenses will be issued for 5 years instead of 10 (the change to 10 years was enacted in 2014) and - most controversially - the police will have the right to take guns away from a person whom they reasonably believe to be nuts - including the right to enter home (this part will be most probably either changed in parliament to requiring court order or challenged in front of the Constitutional Court as it is clearly unconstitutional). The person will then have 30 days to obtain general practitioner's stamp that their head is OK in order to get guns back. Under current law, police may ask for a new general practitioner's stamp, but only after the person fails to get one can revoke the license and get the guns. In Uherský Brod, the shooter went rampage exactly because the police got information from his family that he is nuts and his license was about to be revoked as his GP refused to sign his papers.

2. 50K new guns
A. Economy is good
Czech economy is doing good with 4.5% year on year expansion. People are buying new toys, so are the gun owners.

B. Getting a new gun is much faster than getting a license
While getting a license takes time, especially now that many more people want them, getting a gun is simple and fast.

For bolt actions, non-repeating shotguns and similar guns, it is going to shop, presenting valid license, buying gun, taking it (immediately), registering within 10 days.

For semi-autos, it is going to police station, getting permit (shall issue, issued within minutes as long as the license is valid and there is no reason for license revocation like a new DUI), going to shop, buying gun, taking it (immediately), registering within 10 days.

(Full autos are may issue and process is not that straightforward.)

Between the Uherský Brod shooting, war in Ukraine, migration crisis in nearby Austria and Germany and the recent EU proposal to ban semi-auto rifles, there has been enough incentive for existing gun owners to buy more guns.

C. People with licenses but no guns
There is a certain number of people who get a license, but are happy enough to just shoot now and then at the range and not having a gun at home (otherwise, they would need a presence of instructor when shooting rented guns). For example, my general practitioner, a woman in her late 20s, told me she has the license but feels no need to actually get a gun.

Given the same reasons stated above, I suppose that this has changed for many unarmed licensees.

D. Changing gun owners population
You may not know that the Czech Republic had the highest gun ownership among the communist countries - it was actually 6 times higher than the CURRENT gun ownership in Poland. As long as a person was not considered nuisance to the dictatorship (for whatever reason), they could get guns either for hunting or sport shooting. (The Czechoslovak communist gun laws were actually pretty similar to the one they have in Germany now)

Many of those old school gun owners - especially hunters - are content with having one over-under for firing shotgun shells at ducks and bullets at wild boar.

I believe that these people represent the largest proportion of those losing licenses (failing to renew or simply dying out), while newly issued licenses are predominantly CC licenses obtained by young folk. Many of the new gun owners are and will not be not contempt with having one gun.

3. Trends for 2016
A. Losing guns
As I mentioned, EU has proposed baning "black" semi-auto rifles. While there is a clear opposition from several EU countries, there would have to be countries with 35% population in order to veto that proposal. We are nowhere near that right now. Clearly against are Czech Republic which pulled in Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, and Estonia which pulled in Latvia and Lithuania. Sweden and Finland seem likely to try to work their own deal (a national exception) instead of objecting loud. There are still several undecided countries. I was hoping for Italy to join the veto, but it seems they will support the ban. So will probably also Germany which so far objected only on technical grounds (which may be easily solved).

Should the EU Gun Ban pass, and unless Czech Republic gets exception, there will be a massive rise in semi-auto rifles purchases before ban and subsequent filing of losses of tens of thousands of these rifles.

Czech gun owners association already pleaded to gun owners to get ready for civil disobedience. In my opinion, Czech government will fight until the last breath against the gun ban/to get exception to avoid scenario in which cops have nothing to do for next 5 years than chasing law abiding citizens who filed their guns as "lost". Not to mention rise of black market same as in early 1990s.

B. More gun owners, more guns
As I said, while the interest in licenses rose up after last September, it will be only now that we will be seeing rise in number of licenses being actually issued. I believe that this will continue until June and then either slow down or extremely exacerbate depending on the migration situation and terrorism (which, right now, in the Czech Republic exists only in the newspapers).

Meanwhile the existing lot will be also buying more guns the same as this year. I know I will. So will my GF.

C. More female owners
Women interest in guns in the Czech Republic has been going up especially in the past 3-4 years. Given the mass rape epidemic in nearby Germany, Austria, that is most striking as regards the gang rapes of 126 women within 3 hours in Cologne town square, I think that women will now be extremely interested in being armed and CCing.

D. Idiot owners
As I said, the Czech Republic is a safe country with terrorism as well as migrants steering away from it. Nevertheless, right wing extremists found the EU migrant crisis as a new topic after the gypsy-hatred had lost its appeal. People who tend to sympathize with this lot tend to feel more in danger by the muslim immigration (albeit non existent in the Czech Republic - as of yet). They are also likely to want to be armed disproportionately more compared to the general population. We just need to hope that these people won't be doing a bad reputation for the rest of the gun owners.

Feel free to ask any questions.

Last edited by Snejdarek; February 3, 2016 at 05:27 PM. Reason: typo
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Old February 3, 2016, 04:18 PM   #2
Branko_D
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An interesting read, thanks.

I'm from Croatia and it is somewhat more complicated here with more red tape - getting the first gun is a roughly three month process, or a bit more if you want it for hunting (you must first take a course to become a hunter and pass the exams) and carry licenses are generally not given without very good reason.

However, generally, if you have a clean record and are sane and go through the necessary steps, you will get the license. Takes time and effort, but it looks more complicated then it really is. It must be renewed every 5 years (the medical check must be re-done).

Buying new guns, you must go through a part of the process again.

BP guns (also high power crossbows and high power airguns) just require registration 8 days after buying, which is accompanied by a background check (including police visit and interview with neighbours) - there is no need to renew the license, unless you commit a crime, it is for life. The whole process takes about three weeks roughly speaking, although you buy it first.

Our politicians have said in relation to the EU proposals that they do not see any further tightening of the laws as necessary, but I doubt they will raise strong objections if the big nations decide on them.
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Old February 3, 2016, 04:36 PM   #3
Snejdarek
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Originally Posted by Branko_D View Post
An interesting read, thanks.
Our politicians have said in relation to the EU proposals that they do not see any further tightening of the laws as necessary, but I doubt they will raise strong objections if the big nations decide on them.
We will have regional elections this year and national elections next year. 3% of gun owners means 10% of households. We have already showed that it is personal by flooding email and post boxes of everyone with just a bit of influence on the Czech vote in the EU.

Not fighting (1) EU Gun Ban proposal and (2) permanent EU immigration quotas will severally undermine election chances of any party.

You Croatians just need to step up your game. The Czechs and Estonians can't pull it off alone.
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Old February 3, 2016, 10:56 PM   #4
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It's really interesting to read post from gun owners in other nations. Good luck to you Gentlemen on your concerns.

Good job, THR!
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Old February 3, 2016, 11:26 PM   #5
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I agree. Great to have inputs from other areas around the globe.

I wonder how many countries are represented here at THR?

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Old February 4, 2016, 05:05 PM   #6
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Just like in Austria, the further development of gun numbers in 2016 will be interesting. Like the Czech Republic, we have experienced a huge rise in gun ownership, but most of it took place from September to December, most likely because of the migrant-scare.
This rise sadly brings some unwanted attention by the media with it. Over the last years, no one really paid attention to gun crime or gun accidents in general, because both are relatively low in Austria. Since October, we have had every single incident with a gun in Austria (which is possible because there were only about 8-10) and many incidents in Germany reported in a very ominous tone by the media, and some officials never get tired of pointing out, how silly and dangerous it is to own a gun.

So in 2016 we will see whos side wins
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Old February 4, 2016, 06:46 PM   #7
Snejdarek
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Originally Posted by RoscoeBryant View Post
Just like in Austria, the further development of gun numbers in 2016 will be interesting. Like the Czech Republic, we have experienced a huge rise in gun ownership, but most of it took place from September to December, most likely because of the migrant-scare.
This rise sadly brings some unwanted attention by the media with it. Over the last years, no one really paid attention to gun crime or gun accidents in general, because both are relatively low in Austria. Since October, we have had every single incident with a gun in Austria (which is possible because there were only about 8-10) and many incidents in Germany reported in a very ominous tone by the media, and some officials never get tired of pointing out, how silly and dangerous it is to own a gun.

So in 2016 we will see whos side wins
Well we have several things going our way in the regard of "gun incidents" reporting.

First of all, despite all of his effort, the Uherský Brod shooter did not rack larger number of victims than Olga Hepnarová - vehicular mass murderer. At the same time the case was completely the same as the one that happened a year or two before in which an apparently crazed old man blew up an apartment complex. This leads to the fact that everyone really understands that it is not guns that kill people, but people kill people. If a killer doesn't get a gun, he will just use different means to the same end.

The other thing is that the Czech Republic is the Europe's No.1 in illegal Meth and Cannabis production. Police bust several hundred manufacturing/growing facilities each year and there is no bust in which they would not get to an arsenal of illegal firearms. Fortunately the market in Western Europe is large enough that the gangs don't need to resort to actually using them on each other (which is probably also because it is mostly run by Vietnamese who are not overly violent themselves and know that violence is bad for business as it attracts authorities), but more importantly everyone can see that if guns are illegal, only criminals have guns. Nobody here wants to be in situation where only criminals have guns.

Last but not least - the first thing any politician does after getting a death threat is getting CC license and turning the process into publicity stunt. The same with newspaper people. Death threat = CC license. That really helps the whole tone of gun related debate.

Last edited by Snejdarek; February 4, 2016 at 06:56 PM.
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Old February 4, 2016, 07:03 PM   #8
ApacheCoTodd
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Czechs...

They may be looking to modern day Paris.

They may simply be enjoying the freedom.

or

They may be applying modern day "Post-Soviet" expansion to them getting thrown under the bus in '68 and intend to take matters into their own hands this time - to whatever end that may achieve.

In any case, I applaud them, wish them nothing but the best and hope they don't get sold out yet again... again... and, again!


Todd.
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Old February 5, 2016, 06:24 AM   #9
RoscoeBryant
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As pointed out before, you are very lucky, that the public opinion is that way. If there is no support in the general population for gun control measures, even the EU will have problems getting their pending legislation passed. I hope, the large numbers of new gun owners will help in that cause - in my hometown, the number of people applying for a gun permit is 8-10 times higher than a couple of months ago.
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Old February 5, 2016, 07:59 AM   #10
Snejdarek
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Originally Posted by RoscoeBryant View Post
As pointed out before, you are very lucky, that the public opinion is that way. If there is no support in the general population for gun control measures, even the EU will have problems getting their pending legislation passed. I hope, the large numbers of new gun owners will help in that cause - in my hometown, the number of people applying for a gun permit is 8-10 times higher than a couple of months ago.
There is also one more thing which I failed to mention that works for gun owners in the Czech Republic:

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Old February 5, 2016, 08:17 AM   #11
Snejdarek
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Originally Posted by RoscoeBryant View Post
Just like in Austria, the further development of gun numbers in 2016 will be interesting. Like the Czech Republic, we have experienced a huge rise in gun ownership, but most of it took place from September to December, most likely because of the migrant-scare.
Are there any voices calling out loud for loosening of the criteria for concealed carry licenses in Austria?

Yesterday there were 18 sexual assaults/rapes according to official report (first NYE Cologne official report was 3 rapes, now it is 126 - so the yesterday's reality will be probably much worse too) as the Carnival started in Cologne - that after police pledged to protect any women participants. It is clear that authorities are unable to protect citizens, women especially, even when they put their best effort into it. And we all know that most of the time best effort is not what people in a small town in Germany/Austria can expect.

BTW, this Belgian TV woman was groped during live broadcast in Cologne yesterday (perps in the pic behind her).

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Old February 5, 2016, 08:41 AM   #12
RoscoeBryant
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Originally Posted by Snejdarek View Post
Are there any voices calling out loud for loosening of the criteria for concealed carry licenses in Austria?

Yesterday there were 18 sexual assaults/rapes according to official report (first NYE Cologne official report was 3 rapes, now it is 126 - so the yesterday's reality will be probably much worse too) as the Carnival started in Cologne - that after police pledged to protect any women participants. It is clear that authorities are unable to protect citizens, women especially, even when they put their best effort into it. And we all know that most of the time best effort is not what people in a small town in Germany/Austria can expect.

BTW, this Belgian TV woman was groped during live broadcast in Cologne yesterday (perps in the pic behind her).

There are some calls on that subject to some extent - but not regarding a loosening the restrictions for the genreal population but only for some certain groups. This is because since about march of this year, there are essentially no carry permits issued, not even for off-duty policemen, security guards or state hunters (they are currently allowed to carry bolt action rifles and shotguns only) which is obviously stupid.
So I think over the next year, these restrictions might get loosened a bit, but for the general population there is no improvement in sight.

Self defense courses especially for women on the other hand are skyrocketing right now, but they teach the use of pepper spray at best.
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Old February 9, 2016, 05:57 PM   #13
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There is article about rising interest in guns literally in every local magazine/newspaper. Usually with short explatanion how to get gun licence.

e.g. Trutnovsko:

Gun licence application on table, CZ75, finger off trigger, picture of Rip mountain on wall... all I approve.

Šnejdárek: Thats great summrization.
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Old February 10, 2016, 12:07 AM   #14
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Branko D

What sort of gun choices do you folks have in the way of variety?
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Old February 10, 2016, 05:22 AM   #15
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What sort of gun choices do you folks have in the way of variety?
More or less everything which isn't full auto is okay. There are some specific regulations; if it's a hunting rifle, you must limit the magazine size to 3 rounds (for sporting guns there's no such restriction), and I believe a few regulations regarding military-type guns (the threads to fit a grenade launcher at the end are not OK I think). No suppressors, period, no AP/incendiary/explosive ammo and no expanding ammo except for hunting.

As for what's available - well, everything, if you're going to order and wait. You'll find various handguns and hunting rifles in stock, but if you are very picky, you'll probably have to order what you want. There are three gun stores in my town (which has about 300.000 people). The one I frequent has good customer service and will help you with what you want, plus they have a quite good gunsmith. As for ammo the 9mm is easily the most popular handgun caliber here, but you also regularly see 7.62mm TT , .38 and .44 Special, .357 and .44 Magnum and .45 ACP ammo available. If you want something unusual, you might have to order it and wait.

Biggest problem in my town is lack of shooting ranges, there's just one and it's open weekends only and doesn't allow magnum loadings there because houses are close and noise is a problem. Opening a shooting range involves a lot of red tape. Plus, renting guns at a range is legally a problem (or, a bit of a grey area - some ranges in the country do it, but pass it off as "training"). If this was simplified I'd probably invest a bit into opening one myself.
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Old February 10, 2016, 07:26 AM   #16
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Interesting thread. Thanks. Americans are a bit more aware of the Czech firearm issues due to the rise in popularity of CZ firearms here.
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Old February 10, 2016, 12:12 PM   #17
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Great information on gun laws in the EU. Hopefully everything will keep going your way and legal gun ownership will increase in the EU.
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Old Yesterday, 07:43 AM   #18
Snejdarek
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What sort of gun choices do you folks have in the way of variety?
Basically anything. Full autos are complicated (may issue red tape) and for collecting/professional security only (no CC for civilians). Silencers and lasers are no go.

Otherwise there is no limitation as regards concealed carry, i.e. apart from obvious pistols and revolvers you can CC Serbu Super Shorty or Scorpion EVO 3 with drum mag for self defense (once you get a license which is shall issue). Legally also AR 15 but that poses clear practical difficulties.

Interestingly enough night visions for hunters are right now 80% government subsidized as long as you can prove that you hunt/kill a certain number of wild boars a year. Hunters are limited to 2 round mags in semiauto rifles (+ one round in chamber), but can have any mags for HD/CC/sport shooting. No pistol hunting, but you can CC pistol/revolver for SD during hunt. You can OC only hunting rifle on the way to/from hunt, otherwise always either CC (loaded) or closed container (unloaded).

No alcohol/drugs tolerance, if cops see you OC hunting rifle (or if you are printing a CC piece), they can require you to take breathalyser test the same as in case of a car driver. This is actually not uncommon especially during large hunting events.

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