Recently I got a question about the gun laws here in Sweden. As I have answered this before (similar question at least), I thought I might as well put it on a page.
The letter I received (with minor snippage):
As things become worse here I am giving thought to life in Sweden.
Can you give me a quick run down on the basics of the gun laws?
I had no idea that handguns were allowed. Thats uncommon in
this age. Must all firearms be manually cycled, or are automatics
permitted (not machine guns, semi-automatic)? It would be difficult
to reduce my holdings to only six firearms, but with three or four
rifles and two or three handguns I could "get by". :)
I have always wanted to visit Sweden, but I need to learn the language
(I know many or most Swedes speak English, but I think its good
manners to know the lingo).
My answer (with minor snippage):
Ok, I'll try to give you a quick (well, pretty long actually) rundown on Swedish gun laws and practices, from memory, so some (minor) details
might get hazy.
One can categorize Swedish guns in two categories, for hunting and for
sports (target shooting). All weapons are licensed, with a few
There is also the possibility to collect, then you get collectors
licenses and can not use them.
I'll start with hunting:
Only rifles and shotguns (and combination weapons) are allowed for
hunting. You can get license for single shot .22 pistols for "grytjakt"
that is shooting foxes and other animals that live under ground, while
you dig them up or have a dog chase them up. It is also possible to get
license to use a air rifle for hunting if you are an community assigned
To be able to get a license one have to pass the hunter examina that
includes a theoretical test on animals and hunting, an weapons safety
test, ability to judge distances and a practical shooting test, both
rifle and shotgun. The tests are not that hard to pass, I did it with a
minimum of reading before the test and had not shot shotgun before. That
was in 1995, the test might be a bit harder now, but surely not all that
With the hunter examina (and usually some sort of written declaration
from others that you are a law abiding, stable person) in your hand you
can apply for up to 4 licenses for long guns (rifles or shotguns) and
usually get them without much problem. The licenses can be open with
just the type and class of weapon you want, or it can be for the
individual weapon you are going to buy.
Oh, about the classification system here, we have 4 classes of weapons,
1-4, where 4 is for the smallest calibers, almost only .22lr in that, to
class 1 for "högvilt" for example moose and bear, 6.5x55 being the
weakest in the class.
If you want more then 4 long guns you need to motivate it better, and
even more so if you want more then 6 (they changed this recently, before
it was only the 6 guns limit). There are restrictions on what autos you
can have, they have a list of which is ok to use for hunting.
All rifles and shotguns have to be licensed, the serial number of the
weapon is written on the license.
Moving over to target weapons.
The main theme here is that you need to be an active member of an gun
club that competes with the weapon you want to buy. Handguns are
considered more dangerous here, so the demands are higher for them, and
more so if you want a full auto (more or less impossible now).
For handguns you need to be a member of a gun club for at least 6 months
and shoot three gold series (46 of 50 possible on int. pistol target at
25 m) and a fast series 6 shots in black in under 10 (?) seconds. Your
club then can write an statement that you are active and need your own
gun for competition. How easy this is depends on the club as well as
If you already have guns it might be possible to sneak by this
requirement by joining a club and bringing a written statement from a
club in your country that you are a active and safe member, or something
There is no official limit on how many handguns you can have, but they
usually have to be of different types so you can motivate them on the
fact you are going to use them for different types of competitions.
Licenses for handguns issued after 2000-07-01 is limited to 5 years.
After 5 years one has to reapply, still remains to be seen how this will
All this of course only means more work for the police (that is strained enough as it is) and more hassle for the law abiding gun owners. :-(
What handguns you can buy is only limited to what sort of competition
you can use them for. As it is nothing is impossible.
There is a (very) remote possibility to get a gun for protection, but
that is extremely unusual, and I think those licenses are limited in
time. From memory I can only remember reading about one such license. My
guess is that there is less then 100 such in all of Sweden, maybe as low
as under 10.
All guns must be stored in a gun cabinet that fulfills some set rules,
easiest way is to buy one from the gun store that fills your needs.
There is a SOP in the police for how licenses should be issued. Among
them is a rule (not formal law) that say that you cannot have more then
20 points of weapons at one place (maybe one cabinet). Long guns are 1
point, handguns are 2 and full auto are 5 (or 10?). Not really updated
on how this works...
Easiest way to get a full auto at home is to join "Hemvärnet" (home
guard), they will (probably) issue a Ak-4 (Swedish version of H&K G3) or
maybe a Ksp-45 (Swedish 9 mm SMG). One has to be a Swedish citizen and
(I think) done his military service.
All in all its a mix here, we have some annoying laws, some very
irritating and some plain stupid laws, but still it could be worse. Anti
gun segments are stronger in big cities, mainly to the south. Where I
live, in Umeå in the north of Sweden, we have some militant vegans, that
I suppose is anti gun, as well as commies, but they are in minority.
Majority of the people around hunt, or at least knows someone who hunt,
and therefore are at least slightly positive.
I think there are around 900 000 gun owners in Sweden, making up 16% of
those eligible to vote. Biggest threat to gun ownership is from the
lawmakers, to a big degree depending on ignorance from gun owners. If
things keep getting worse in the world, more doing like UK, I think we
will get even worse laws here as well, my best hope is that gun owners
win in USA and that will help break or reverse the world trend.
About language, english is more or less a second language to most here.
Most under 50 knows at least some english, and among younger you easily can
find those who write and speak it more or less fluently.
I might remember wrong or might have misinterpreted some of the rules, I anyone spots any such faults, please let me know.