Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gun laws in the Czech Republic

Today we leave on our much awaited trip to eastern Europe. But before I start with the trip, I ask my readers to remember that victims of the Virginia Tech shooting 6 years ago today. 32 people were killed in that mass shooting and many others injured. Also today we are all concerned about the bomb blasts at the end of the Boston Marathon that took the lives of 3 and seriously injured many others. There is too much sadness some days as so beautifully expressed in this piece by local writer Sam Cook.
t could have been us. It could have been our college roommates, our sons or daughters, our moms or dads, our nurses and doctors.
The odds that any one of us will be touched by terror are remote. We know that intellectually. The odds that next time it will be our town, our marathon, our elementary school are very low. Probably somewhere in the lightning-strike range.
We try to hold onto the math, the odds. But the images remain in our minds.
Ultimately, then, it seems we are left with an enduring sadness in the wake of these events. We live with a kind of cumulative sense of vulnerability as a nation.
We have suffered these injustices too many times now. We are saddened not only for the other towns, not only for the families we never even knew. It seems we are suffering from a national sadness that it has come to this, that this is a part of who we are as a country.
We are a resilient bunch, Americans. We will go on. Boston will endure.
People's lives do go on but nothing is quite the same after going through tragedies like these. I live in a city that hosts a Marathon. I am betting that security will be different and we will all be on our collective guard during the race. So now, back to the trip.

We are going to start our trip in Prague where we will spend 3 days and from there to cities along the Danube River. When I travel, I like to find out what the gun laws are. One of my most popular posts, for whatever reason, is Gun Laws in Spain. I wrote it before we went to Barcelona a few years ago. Prague is a city that has become popular for visitors and for American citizens to live. It has been revitalized since the days after the Velvet Revolution and later in 1989 when the Soviets left the country.

As far as gun laws, the Czech Republic has somewhat more liberal gun laws than most of the more Westernized countries of Europe. There is fairly high gun ownership in the Czech Republic at 16.3 per 100 citizens, 42nd in the world. From the same article, gun homicides are low in the Czech Republic with 185 gun deaths in 2010 with a rate of 1.76 per 100,000. 146 of the gun deaths appear to be suicides which is a high number of the total gun deaths. Handguns and semi-automatic weapons are allowed only with special authorization. So, again, where there are strong gun laws, there are fewer gun deaths. This is consistently the case in other higher income countries not at war. Let's take a look at other gun safety provisions from the linked article, above:
In the Czech Republic, only licensed gun owners (for certain arms)34 30 32 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition...
Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in the Czech Republic are required to prove genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example, hunting, target shooting, collection, personal protection, security35....
The minimum age for gun ownership in the Czech Republic is 18 years35...
An applicant for a firearm licence in the Czech Republic must pass background checks which consider criminal, mental and domestic violence35 records....
Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in the Czech Republic stipulates3 that a gun licence should be denied or revoked...
In the Czech Republic, an understanding of firearm safety and the law, tested in a theoretical and/or practical training course is required3 for a firearm licence...
A licensed firearm owner in the Czech Republic is permitted to possess only ammunition suitable for the intended firearm3.....
And then, there is the issue of gun registration which the NRA lobbyists and gun rights extremists are screaming about here in the U.S. From the article, above, again:
Civilian Gun Registration
In the Czech Republic, the law requires37 38 that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register.....
In the Czech Republic, licensed firearm dealers are required37 38 to keep a record of each firearm or ammunition purchase, sale or transfer on behalf of a regulating authority....
In the Czech Republic, licensed gun makers are required37 to keep a record of each firearm produced, for inspection by a regulating authority....
In the Czech Republic, State agencies are required37 to maintain records of the storage and movement of all firearms and ammunition under their control....
And regarding safe storage:
Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private
Firearm regulations in the Czech Republic include3 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of private firearms and ammunition by licensed gun owners....
Regulations in the Czech Republic include3 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition while in transit.....
Also, carrying a gun is allowed with a license to carry. Here is another article describing the gun culture in the Czech Republic. From the article:
For some, guns are mere tools of a trade or used for self-protection; for many others, guns are considered lethal weapons that should not be into the hands of ordinary citizens. Czechs have a long tradition of gun ownership and gun-related sport disciplines. Česká zbrojovka, otherwise known as CZUB, is our oldest modern gun producer, currently celebrating more than 75 years of existence. It is therefore of no surprise that currently there are more than 700,000 legally-registered guns in the Czech Republic, with more than 300,000 registered gun-license owners. But how does the country stand in terms of gun-related crime? 
In 2007, 6,080 people died of non-natural causes within the Czech Republic. Out of this number, less than 1% is associated with firearms (not limited to guns). Murders associated with a legally held gun could be summarized up as follows: 16 cases in 2003, 7 in 2007, and 2 in 2008. Numbers aside, there are more positive aspects to be discussed. As a gun owner myself, I am going to introduce the process of obtaining a gun license and discuss the associated sports and some of the more popular shooting ranges in Prague. 
Gun License Process and Associated Legalities
The Czech legal system allows for the legal ownership of guns by its citizens and by foreigners who have legal permanent residence in the Czech Republic. The government, however, reserves the right to reject a license without having to state a reason. Generally speaking, if one meets all legal requirements, a license is issued. A strong and solid system is established laying out the requirements and rules which each prospective gun owner must go through to be able to own a gun. Serious penalties exist for violations. In short, each applicant must pass an extensive multiple choice test (in Czech only), a practical test in front of a police commissioner, a medical test, and finally, if deemed necessary by the GP, a psychological test......
This bears repeating-"The government, however, reserves the right to reject a license without having to state a reason." and "...each applicant must pass an extensive multiple choice test ( in Czech only), a practical test in front of a police commissioner, a medical test, and finally, if deemed necessary by the GP, a psychological test." Are you kidding me? How can these people exist with such controls on their rights to have a gun? I wonder if there is a lot of resistance to these measures? Perhaps I will ask the question. Such common sense just does not seem possible in America. But then, because of that common sense and strong gun laws, very few people die from gunshot injuries in the Czech Republic.

10 comments:

  1. Dear readers.......anyone who calls me a Nazi and Liberal Fascist will not be published on my blog. Just because I am visiting countries once occupied by Nazis doesn't make me one. There have been some interesting and irrelevant comments to this post meet a grip all. Your guns are safe. Meanwhile I am enjoying the beautiful city of Prague.

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  2. Dear Douglas Hester. I don't publish your comments and many others here because they are inflammatory, irrelevant, lies, demeaning or just plain stupid. You may want to troll another blog.

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  3. Thats nice article. I'm Czech and you ask very interesting questions.

    "How can these people exist with such controls on their rights to have a gun?"
    It's really easy if you grow up in Czech Republic. It just feels right. Or at least to me. Truth to be told, I can't imagine owning a firearm without such a license. Here in Czech Republic, your right to possess a gun comes with that license.

    "I wonder if there is a lot of resistance to these measures?"
    No, not at all. I've never heard of any protest or complaint. Not even in a pub where we (Czechs) like to complain about everything.

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  4. Thank you Petr. I thought this would be the case. I want to say how much we have loved Prague. What a unique and beautiful city. So old and yet so modern. We will not forget our visit here.

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  5. Same erors:
    Age is 21...
    And resason to own: Well ... maybe personal protection... SOLVED :D

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  6. Japete,

    Good article, good facts. Czech's 3rd most popular sport is sport shooting.
    I disagree with the premise that the U.S. could just copy them.
    I married a Czech, lived in the Bohemian Forest for over ten years, and I happen to own a CZ85 (finest in the world). We have since moved back to Colorado, where, for the time being, I can do as I please with my pistol.
    At any time Parliament may enact a law to confiscate all weapons throughout the country. Just as Germany did in WWII. Once Germany had complete control of Czechoslovakia, they were disarmed. By the time of the 1948 Communist takeover there wasn't much to disarm as the war was barely over.
    When my mother-in-law comes for a visit, and sees my firearms, she always laments "If only my father had a gun in '68. Maybe..." She never finishes her thought, and she doesn't need too. In 1968 retribution was swift and vicious.
    She is here again this summer. Today watching the news there was more talk of gun control. Our Czech Babicka said "Don't let them take your guns, you might need them one day!" She said this with passion. After all she is a Czech citizen, and has lived through communism.
    The 2nd Amendment's sole purpose is as a threat to the Federal Government. Paul Revere rode because the Redcoats were coming to confiscate the Colonial's weapons. Private citizens owned cannons and warships. None of this is in the recent memory of Czechs.
    My own feelings on gun control are mixed. My instinct is to call you a pinko-commie-pig, but like all real men, I fight my instincts.
    I own what everyone considers "normal". I personally abhor the civilian version of the M16, AK47/74, and similar weapons. I have been to war, I have been trained to use them. I have used them, and I know as well as any grieving parent what they are capable of.
    I also abhor flag burning.
    I also abhor pornography.
    I also abhor illegal immigrants.
    But I love the Constitution. I am in a wheelchair because I put on a uniform for our Constitution.
    The Constitution protects our right to bear arms, and form militias.
    The Constitution protects our right of free speech.
    The Constitution protects our right to freedom of the press.
    The Constitution protects everyone within our borders.
    The Constitution must be protected at all costs. Even, God forbid, if it were my children.
    We must live with the lesser of two evils if we wish to be free. The lesser evil is gun freedom at the cost of (possible and probable) madmen, but the much greater evil is to destroy the Constitution, and what that would lead to. A third option does not exist, and to believe that it does exist somewhere is foolhardiness.
    The Czechs are to be commended for their liberal gun laws on the European continent, a true achievement. They can still be disarmed at anytime though. All Czechs know, from experience, that gun ownership and liberty are precarious at best.
    Thank you for creating a reasonable blog. Most out there are all the way to the left, or all the way to the right. All the way anything usually is not a good thing.

    Thanks,
    Richard in Colorado

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  7. Very interesting information, thanks.

    But I would remiss to neglect to point out that the statement "So, again, where there are strong gun laws, there are fewer gun deaths. This is consistently the case in other higher income countries not at war." would be one that would be hard to defend under true scrutiny.

    For example, that topic was discussed in this very long, yet very worthwhile, study published by Harvard: http://tinyurl.com/yobqcz

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    1. Thanks. The study you linked to is mostly about banning guns which is not what I am espousing. In addition, the author of the study is a known scholar in favor or an individual right to bear arms and gun rights in general. http://michellawyers.com/attorney-profile/don-b-kates/

      He clearly has one point of view on the topic of gun rights that is very different from and from many other scholars.

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  8. The NRA and gun rights people are against gun registries because historically they have tended to be used for gun confiscation purposes. It also goes completely against the concept of one's right to keep and bear arms. Arms ownership is not a privilege. Imagine having to obtain a license to engage in speech against the government, and then someone claim that is part of your "right" to free speech.

    Regarding the relationship between gun violence and gun laws, my understanding from what criminologists have found over the years is that there is no real direct relationship. The causes of gun violence and violent crime period are separate (for example most of the gun violence in the United States is due to inner-city gang violence).

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    1. Looks like you should brush up on your Civics. Most gun violence is NOT due to gang violence. Where did you get that idea? Actually most gun deaths are due to suicide. You should read this study, just one of several, that show that you are wrong about your assertion about gun laws and gun violence. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/04/03/1811311/study-states-with-loose-gun-laws-have-higher-rates-of-gun-violence/

      Of course, the thesis of my post, which I have shown with all of the posts about the countries I recently visited, is that stronger gun laws lead to fewer deaths. I did my research. You should do the same. You could also read this one so you can learn some facts about gun violence- http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/02/gun-violence-in-america-the-13-key-questions-with-13-concise-answers/272727/

      This one is also good- http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/pro-gun-myths-fact-check

      Gang violence is a problem. http://www.policymic.com/articles/27281/gun-control-debate-gang-violence-accounts-for-half-of-violent-crime-in-america

      As far as most being gang related- http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded/expandhomicidemain

      " In 2010, in incidents of murder for which the relationships of murder victims and offenders were known, 53.0 percent were killed by someone they knew (acquaintance, neighbor, friend, boyfriend, etc.); 24.8 percent of victims were slain by family members. The relationship of murder victims and offenders was unknown in 44.0 percent of murder and non-negligent manslaughter incidents in 2010. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 10.)
      Of the female murder victims for whom the relationships to their offenders were known, 37.5 percent were murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 2 and 10.)
      Of the murders for which the circumstance surrounding the murder was known, 41.8 percent of victims were murdered during arguments (including romantic triangles) in 2010. Felony circumstances (rape, robbery, burglary, etc.) accounted for 23.1 percent of murders. Circumstances were unknown for 35.8 percent of reported homicides. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 12.)
      Law enforcement reported 665 justifiable homicides in 2010. Of those, law enforcement officers justifiably killed 387 felons, and private citizens justifiably killed 278 people during the commission of a crime. (See Expanded Homicide Data Table 14 and 15.) "

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