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An Overview of the Firearms Laws and Market of Spain

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Firearms legislation plays a major role in the manufacture, market, and sale of firearms.Additionally firearms laws vary between countries making the sale and importation of firearms rather tricky without legal counsel.

Today we will be looking over the firearms laws and market of Spain.

Spain, like most European countries, is very restrictive in regards to private firearm ownership. This ties into the Spanish societal thought in regards to firearms being an extremely limited privilege combined with the belief the it is the government's priority through the Guardia Civil to ensure the individual's and the community's safety.

Let's start off prohibited weapons.

Prohibited Weapons:

–Automatic weapons

–Weapons Disguised as other objects

–Firearms specially designed for war as defined by the Ministry of Defense

–Firearms with a caliber meeting or exceeding 20mm

Automatic weapons and weapons of war are generally prohibited to civilians in most countries. However, members of the military and certain security forces may own and purchase automatic weapons and may use them in the performance of their duties.

Non-prohibited Firearms With Appropriate Licensing:

–Short Firearms such as handguns and pistols

–Long guns such as rifles and shotguns

–Air rifles and pistols that exceed 24.2 Joules

–Compressed air rifles

–Antique and historic firearms.

Each of these types of firearms and other weapons are put into a series of classification categories. There are also varying levels of license that correspond to certain types of weapons and their intended use. Like the United Kingdom, Spain has several requirements for the purchase and use of firearms and ammunition.

Unlike the United Kingodm, Spain requires extensive compliance with the storage and documentation of firearms and ammunition. No firearms may be manufactured without serial numbers and other identifying marks. All Private sales of firearms happen under the supervision of the Guardia Civil. Once all the forms have been filed and confirmed, the seller will hand over the firearm to the Guardia Civil for safe keeping until the buyer comes and collects it or arranges for its delivery through a specialized service.

Documentation of licensing, sale, and appropriate storage facilities (safes and similar storage devices) are to be kept by the private individual, firearms dealers, and the Ministry of the Interior as well as other law enforcement agencies. Documentation and storage rules apply to ammunition as well. Firearms that are to be shot that day must be unloaded until at the appropriate location and that location must be traveled to without detour.

Spain is highly regulatory towards firearms, stating within their constitution and laws that it is the government's purview and duty to control and regulate the ownership, storage, possession and use of firearms.

With that we will delve into the various categories and licenses available in Spain. Please note that any ammunition used by the military or considered ammunition of war is illegal to privately own, this includes armor piercing bullets, incendiary/tracer ammunition, and expanding ammunition (hollow points). This leaves ball ammunition and shot to be the only ammunition available to civilians and off-duty military and security forces. Additionally, like the United Kingdom, ammunition capacity of a long gun may not exceed three rounds.

Categories of Weapons in Spain:

Category 1: Short firearms (overall length less than 60cm roughly), pistols, and revolvers

Category 2: Long guns, specifically those used for sport, hunting, or big game and those that are not classified as weapons of war.

Category 3: Sporting guns in .22 caliber (.22 Long), shotguns, smooth-bore guns, compressed air guns with a rating of or exceeding 24.2 joules.

Category 4: Compressed and regular air guns rated less than 24.2 joules

Category 5: Edged weapons, knives, and machetes be they military designs or imitations

Category 6: Ancient or historical weapons and their reproductions for museums. Weapons manufactured before 1890 and their replicas as long as they are not designated as or capable of firing ammunition designated for a weapon of war.

Category 7: Crossbows, bows, flare guns, and blank firing guns.

Depending on which category of weapons an individual would like to purchase and own whether in regards to their profession or hobby there are a number of licenses made available by the Spanish government. They may not own or use a firearm unless they are at least 18 years old (unless they get a proper license for a minor to handle firearms) and pass all the necessary background checks, evaluations, and provide a proper reason for their owning of a firearm.

Firearms Licenses of Spain

License A: This license permits the use of all available weapons and covers all other licenses. It is only available for armed forces, police, and civil guard during their active service.

License B: Valid only for individuals who prove the need for self protection. Allows one category 1 weapon to be owned. It is renewed every three years for anyone under the age of 60 who has a valid reason to possess a firearm for self defense, two years for those between 60 and 70, and one year for those over 70.

License C: This license is for security guards only. Allows the use of weapons category 1, 2, and 3 (while on duty as per the Laws of Private Security). It and its related photo I.D. are renewable every five years.

License D: This license applies to big game hunting. For those 60 and younger, the license lasts five years. For those between 60 and 70, the license lasts two years. This allows for the ownership of up to five full-bore rifles (category 2.2 weapons). The firearms themselves must be stored in a safe.

License E: This allows for the ownership of up to twelve category 3 and 7 total. Lasting five years for those under 60 and two for those between 60 and 70. This license allows up to six sporting rifles and FAC-rate air guns, six shotguns, twelve FAC-rated air guns, up to twelve crossbows, or twelve line launching guns. Combinations of each are allowed but no more than twelve of the items in total in addition to their additional limits License F: This license is for members of the Federation of Shooting Sports. It is valid for three years and only applies to hunting weapons. Between one and ten firearms, depending on the shooting class, are covered by this license and are limited to use at the shooting range. The firearms themselves must be stored unloaded at the owner's home or at a shooting club.

License AE: This license only applies to muzzleloaders and Flobert pistols (pistols usually chambered .22 Conical Ball, having no propellant only a percussion cap to throw the projectile). The license of valid for five years. There is no limit to the number of firearms covered by the license but they must be used on approved ranges.

License L: This is the license for individual collectors or private collectors. Covers historical and ancient weapons, artistic guns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, Flobert guns, and other weapons from categories 6.1 to 7.4. They may not be fired as they are being held as a collection and artistic pieces.

License AEM: This license is for minors between the age of 14 and 17, expiring when the child turns 18. The license covers weapon categories 2 and 3. The minor is to use these weapon under the supervision of a license holder and must under go proper training and have proper adult supervision (subject to strict regulation and review). The minor may only use the firearms for hunting, sports events, or junior class competitions. They may not possess or carry the firearms.

Importation, manufacture, and exportation of firearms fall under Spain's European Commission regulations. Spain also ranks seventh largest in the world for firearms manufacture.

Due to the heavy regulations on firearms the local firearms market can be broken into four major sectors: civilian, private security, state security/military, and the self-defense markets.

Starting with state security and military, all approved firearms as dictated by the Ministry of Defense (predominately H&K brand firearms) are dealt with through military channels and are more than likely filled by long standing tenders for those goods and items.

The private security market is a bit more open as only security guards in remote locations or protecting high value locations/transporting items (large deposits of money, manufacture of dangerous goods like firearms and explosives, valuables, hazardous facilities, among other things). However the weapons available to them are regulated by the Law of Private Security (Ley de Seguridad Privada) and can range from long guns to pistols/revolvers.

The civilian market is clearly the most available. Firearms like those sold to most citizens of the United Kingdom would most likely be primary firearms sold in Spain. Hunting, target shooting, and other shooting sports are the main civilian markets within Spain as long as they cannot hold more than three rounds and are not in calibers considered to be those of war or military usage such as 5.56 NATO.

While the self-defense does cover part of the civilian market it also covers some law enforcement and government officials as well. This is more geared toward handguns and pistols for personal defense (do to their ease of carry and concealment).

The societal view of firearms as being a privilege rather than a varied necessity as it is viewed in the United Kingdom makes Spain a questionable market to try and get into. While mostly hunting, sporting, and collecting oriented the total number of firearms holders is less than 1% of the population at 1.1 million individuals with an additional 8000 licensees for carrying a firearm for defense officially. There are more easily and legally acquired target pistols that account for 70,000 licenses.

Manufacturers are heavily regulated and are required to have as many parts of the firearms serialized as possible. Those who do manufacture and sell firearms within Spain, assuming they are properly licensed are more than likely heavily entrenched in the market holding a metaphorical monopoly. Since the number of firearms in Spain's circulation can be as low as one firearm for every 1000 people, depending on location, most of the shooting needs are more than likely met by local dealers and national dealers unless there is a much more affordable alternative for them to acquire compliant firearms from.

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