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In the United States of America, the Second Amendment to the constitution states that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

I have the impression that the USA are rather unique in this respect. Is this correct? Are there any other — developed or developing — countries that contain a similar constitutional right?

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  • As this question is related to the comparison between US and other countries, maybe tagging it to united states may be misinterpreted... Jan 7, 2013 at 12:56
  • @TiagoCardoso you're absolutely right. I retagged.
    – gerrit
    Jan 7, 2013 at 12:58
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    Just a small comment, as I've noticed this kind of thinking lot of times. In itself a constitution is simply a piece of paper, its value not being directly tied to it being the constitution but instead to the value citizens give to it. So trying to compare them across different countries is a little pointless, first 'cause it may not hold much value in the life and identity of a specific nation, and second as a constitution is the expression of a specific historical moment it just mirrors that moment and nothing else. So while comparing is a funny exercise, it holds no informative value.
    – motoDrizzt
    Dec 31, 2017 at 11:59
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    This question is based on the common misconception that United States citizens have “Constitutional rights”. However, the Bill of Rights neither gives citizens rights, nor do they prohibit anything from free people. You have the right to bear arms because when you were born, you were born with the inalienable right to bear arms. The United States Constitution simply affirms that your right to bear arms “shall not be infringed”.
    – Cannabijoy
    Dec 31, 2017 at 21:22
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    @Joshua Your natural law interpretation of the Bill of Rights is definitely a minority view and indeed an extreme and not widely held minority view. Positivist views of rights (i.e. that rights are created by legal enactments) are much more widely held.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 31, 2017 at 21:48

3 Answers 3

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There is a whole article on this in Wikipedia. The only country apart from the US that is described as having a constitutional right to bear arms is Mexico. However the kind of firearm that may be owned is more controlled than in the US. Switzerland and Cyprus have a system in which citizens are required to serve in the military and thereafter keep their issued weapon at home.

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    Cyprus has a system similar to Switzerland's, (some) conscripts keep their rifles at home after they are released from the army. Still, this is not really a "right to bear arms", in both countries conscripts are technically reservists until they reach 65 (not 100% sure about Switzerland), at which point they'll have to return the rifles. And obviously they can't really use the rifle in civilian matters.
    – yannis
    Jan 8, 2013 at 4:07
  • I'll update the answer. Jan 8, 2013 at 4:20
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    It is also worth noting that many Latin American constitutions once had rights to bear arms, but those rights were subsequently repealed by amendment or via a replacement of an entire constitution with a new one.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 31, 2017 at 21:45
  • Looking at the article, you could argue the UK has a constitutional right to bear arms as it's in the Bill of Rights, but the UK doesn't privilege rights in the Bill of Rights and UK law doesn't really acknowledge a written constitution (parliament cannot be bound and can change any law it likes). It's all a matter of definition.
    – Stuart F
    May 25, 2022 at 20:14
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Czech Republic became such a country in 2021:

The Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament, has approved the right to use arms to defend oneself and others under legal conditions to be embedded in the constitution as a reaction to the EU's pro-regulatory stance on firearms acquisition and possession.

This right was included in the Senate-proposed amendment to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the constitution. Senators, therefore, passed the amendment as expected.

Based on the amendment, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms will include a new article saying that 'the right to defend one's own life or the life of another person even with the use of a weapon is guaranteed under the conditions set by the law.'

According to the authors of the bill, this constitutional change will prevent the right to bear arms from being restricted by common law and will strengthen the position of the Czech Republic in the debates on further EU regulations.

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    What a dumb reasoning. During the Vegas shooting there were people with guns in the crowd but they dared not fire back because they feared the police would think they're the shooter. Dec 31, 2017 at 11:31
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    @DenisdeBernardy everyone knows Czech Republic is not in danger from terrorism - there hasn't been a single attack in the entire history of the country. So in reality it's simply a pretext for ignoring restrictive EU rules on firearms by claiming it's for "national security" purposes, as the EU doesn't have control over that area of governance. Dec 31, 2017 at 11:33
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    @DenisdeBernardy I would think an important reason they didn't fire back is that they didn't know where the shooter was. Any decent firearms training includes the strong command to identify your target before shooting. Given that the shooter was in a high hotel room it would seem to have been next to impossible to be sure he was the shooter and return fire.
    – Readin
    Jan 2, 2018 at 2:00
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Brazil has this right to bear firearms. A few years ago there was a referendum for ending that right, but it failed to end that right. I don't know whether that right comes from the constitution in Brazil.

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    Could you please provide some reference to back this up?
    – user4012
    Jan 11, 2013 at 11:28
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    This is pointless. In many countries laws permit you to bear arms, the whole point of this question IS to ask if any country includes it as a constitutional right.
    – o0'.
    Jan 12, 2013 at 14:45
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    Brazil does not have such a right, and firearms are required to be registered. Oct 5, 2015 at 21:19

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