29 July 2012

LIFE: Gun Control Italian Style

SARONNO, Italy – While I usually manage to concentrate on things Italian and not comment on what’s going on the United States, I confess the recent massacre in Colorado is too tragic to pass without comment. My heart weeps for the victims, their families and the shooter too for he’s a victim as well, a victim of his own sick mind aided and abetted by liberal gun laws unlike any found in other civilized societies. Unfortunately the Colorado incident is only one in a long list of massacres, senseless deaths that take place every day on the streets of America. You have to wonder just what it is going to take for people to write to their representatives and say enough is enough. Are they waiting until someone in their own family is gunned down? 
 Such a Heartwarming Sight
While it may be a constitutional right of Americans to bear arms, where are our rights to move freely within a society without fear of some whack-o popping up from behind a trash can, or through the door of a movie theater, wielding an automatic weapon and letting loose?

I used to tell people that you can’t even own bullets in Italy, let alone a gun, but that isn’t exactly true. In this duly elected democratic country of Italy guns and bullets are not outlawed, but they are strictly controlled. The Italian Constitution does not recognize a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. There are strict rules about who can own a gun and for what purpose. Private ownership of military style weapons (e.g. machine guns) is strictly forbidden and military ammunition is also forbidden. Guns are also limited to a certain capacity (e.g. maximum 15 rounds in handguns), and there are also restrictions on the total amount of ammunition which can be owned and how and where guns must be stored (e.g. in a locked cabinet).

To obtain a gun license applicants must be 18 or older, prove they can handle and use a firearm safely (new gun owners are required to attend a  firearms course at a registered shooting range and earn a certificate of completion), certify that they have a clean criminal record (which is verified by the Police) and must not be mentally ill or be a known abuser of, or addicted to, alcohol or illegal drugs. 

National Firearms Catalog
Italian law prescribes that any rifled-barreled firearm imported or manufactured in Italy after 1976 must be identified by a progressive catalog number, assigned by a commission composed of police and government officials and representatives from the Italian arms industries. The national firearms catalog describes the characteristics of the weapon (barrel and overall length, number of rounds in the magazine and other technical specifications) which cannot legally be altered without resubmitting the weapon to the commission. Common firearms with certain features (sights, type of action) can be classified as sporting firearms and can be used for self-defense in extreme circumstances (ei. during a home invasion) but which cannot be carried for other purposes.

Weapons Possession
All private firearms must be registered at the local police department within "72 hours" after purchase or transfer. This time limit starts from the time the firearm is actually taken to the place where it is to be registered, for example, the firearm may be bought on a certain day and picked up a week later from the retailer; only then is the owner required to register the weapon.

Citizens are allowed to own: up to three common firearms ( such as 10-gauge shotguns, and some .22 rimfire rifles), and up to six weapons that have been specifically engineered and/or manufactured for shooting sports.  An unlimited number of hunting weapons (both rifles and shotguns) and up to eight antique or historical weapons (designed before 1891, regardless of when produced). In addition, an unlimited numbers of single shot muzzle loader replicas, are allowed with no registration needed. An unlimited numbers of airguns under 7,5 Joules of muzzle energy, specifically approved by the Ministry of Interior, do not require registration either.

Carrying guns in public places
In Italy it is illegal to carry any type of weapon in a public place, but the law provides the following exceptions: A hunting license, along with a special hunting permit issued by the region of residence, allows Italian citizens to carry hunting weapons only during hunting season and only within the confines of game reserves. When transporting them outside game reserves, the shotguns must be kept unloaded and locked in their case.

Concealed Carry License
A concealed carry license allows a citizen to carry a handgun for personal defense; this license is usually much more difficult to obtain than other firearm licenses, and must be renewed every year (while hunting and shooting sports licenses are valid for 6 years), and the applicant has to provide a valid reason to carry a concealed gun (e.g. a salesperson of valuable goods such as jewelry). 

Operational limits include a maximum capacity of 15 rounds for handguns (effective since 2004), a maximum capacity of 5 rounds (sometimes 10 rounds or even more according to some specific case, such as the M1 Garand) for non-smoothbore long arms (rifles and carbines. Restrictions on the ownership of ammunition include a maximum of 1500 shotgun shells and/or rifle/carbine cartridges, and a maximum of 200 rounds of pistol ammunition. Any exceptions to these limitations require a special permit from the local authorities and is issued only for competitive shooters who must demonstrate participation at local/national championships.

International Transfer of Firearms:
The international transfer of firearms is regulated by a number of recent European Union directives which apply to all member states. The primary objective of the legislation is the complete traceability of each and any firearm and gun, with easy reconstruction of its movement thru complete paper (and electronic) documentation.

Currently it is virtually impossible for any legal gun in Europe to fall into criminal or terrorist hands thru legal loopholes under the European firearms law, as any transfer must be authorized by the proper police authorities within the various member countries. For example to transfer a gun from Italy to France, the owner must notify both the Italian and French police authorities and, upon authorization, register the gun at the new location. Upon registration the police of the receiving country notify the other country authorities which keep notification of the transfer in their databases.

I know I’m just another blogger in an ocean of bloggers but I am truly horrified by this tragedy. And it’s not just the recent Colorado incident that horrifies me, it’s all the drive-bys and gang war shoot outs and the mentally maladjusted who think they can lean out of their second story windows with a loaded rifle and use the neighborhood kids for target practice – as actually happened on a street I lived on once. I’m just a person trying to understand why such horrible things are still allowed to happen to innocent people. The reasonable control of firearms is not a loss of personal freedom as touted by the National Rifle Association, but the contrary.

As we mourn the victims of America’s most recent tragedy, let us remember past victims as well.

1. August 1, 1966 Austin, Texas, University of Texas massacre 16 killed
2. May 4, 1970 Kent State University,  4 killed
3. Jan. 1/7 1973, New Orleans, LA 9 killed
4. March 30 1975,   Hamilton, OH, 11  killed
5. Sep. 25 1982   Wilkes-Barre, PA 13 killed
6. July 18, 1984 San Diego, California, San Ysidro McDonald’s Massacre 21 killed
7. Dec. 22-28 1987, Russellville, AR 16 killed
8. June 17/18 1990, Jacksonville, FL 11 killed
9. October 16, 1991 Killeen, Texas, Luby’s massacre  22 killed
10. January 8, 1993 Palatine, Illinois, Brown’s Chicken massacre 7 killed
11. April 20, 1999 Littleton, Colorado, Columbine High School massacre 15 killed
12. March 21 2005, Red Lake, MN  9 killed
13. March 25, 2006 Seattle, Washington, Capitol Hill massacre  6 killed
14. April 16, 2007 Blacksburg, Virginia, Virginia Tech Massacre  32 killed
15. April 3 2009,  Binghamton, NY, 13 killed
16. March 10 2009,  Geneva, AL, 10 killed
17. November 5, 2009 Ft. Hood, Texas, Fort Hood Massacre 13 killed
18. January 8, 2011 Tucson, Arizona, Tucson supermarket massacre 6 killed
19. May 30, 2012, Seattle, WA, Café Racer Massacre, 6 killed
20. July 20, 2012 Aurora, Colorado, Colorado Movie Theater Massacre 12 killed

You can agree with me or not, but think about this: the number of massacres in Italy from 1966 to 2012 was zero. Zero.  


  1. Good day! I just wanted to say the fact that you really have organized a cool website. And I got a question for you. Did you take place in some sort of competitions among bloggers?

  2. Thanks for the clarity. We are becoming a military state as a nation requiring all citizens to carry a gun to protect themselves from criminals every day. We need stricter gun control laws! I own guns and I know the form I fill out asks me if I have mental/addictive problems, among other things, and IF I DID have mental/addictive problems, I am not admitting to it! The right to own & bear arms needs stricter controls. No military style firearms/calibers to non-military citizens & if you need to carry a gun, then you need to have a profession that is "risky". This is nuts. I travel in Europe & feel safer ther than in my own country! What is wrong with that picture?

    1. You are right. I understand your frustration. It doesn't make any sense to me either.

  3. America needs to start someplace or am moving to italy

  4. I think people that blame firearms for the violence and not human nature are complete idiots who's right to free speech should be revoked because idiotic ideas are contagious just like public mass shootings seem to be.

  5. Great information... It is good to have most of these articles around to maintain the regular flow of information. Help people that no one could do it later, good work!

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  6. Right on. Sadly you need to update your list. Too many since.

  7. Everyone out there is having their own gun. And they take no time to use it on others. Don't know what is going to happen in future, if govt. will not have any control over this.

  8. Gone are the days when non-gun owners used to be safe in the country. Now everyone should possess firearms to protect themselves from the criminals on their own. Spending some quality time and practicing with your gun is one of the most important things you can do only in an NRA certified Firearms Training Center. I suggest people who want to learn to shoot and qualify for the carry license must enroll in MA Firearms School.