This is a short overview of the gun laws in Romania but it is a personal interpretation and, please, DO NOT take it as legal advice.
Gun ownership in Romania is the lowest in Europe (number 164 in the world with 2.6 gun per 100 persons) and the gun laws are one of the strictest in the world, even though they might not seem so at first glance. What you need to understand is that the Romanian populace is very adverse to guns and the gun culture is almost non-existent. 9 in 10 people would say that they don’t like guns, they don’t want the next person to have a gun and are in favor of harsher gun legislation. And of course, the police, the legislature and the media oblige by always proposing tighter and tighter regulations.
So, even though the law is quite fair and straightforward, the gun related activities and the bureaucracy succeed in restricting the access to guns. To start, let’s review the things that are prohibited:
- It is forbidden to own an automatic weapon as a private individual. Only the military and other institutions can operate automatic weapons.
- It is forbidden to own or use silencers, night vision targeting devices and laser targeting devices
- It is forbidden to load or to fabricate your own ammo
- It is forbidden to hunt with bows, crossbows and airguns.
- It is forbidden to use a gun outside a gun range with the exception of hunting.
- It is forbidden to sell your gun directly. You must do it through an intermediary or an armorer
- It is forbidden to disassemble your gun for cleaning purposes. Only field strip. Complete disassembly can be done only by an armorer
- It is forbidden to fix your gun. Only an armorer can do it
- It is forbidden to modify your gun, like install a new trigger. Only an armorer can do it
And becoming an authorized armorer is a very complicated business. There are very few in the country (like 20-30) and no one is organizing a new course for someone to become an armorer.
There are no freely-available guns in Romanian law. The only quote-unquote “guns” that are available without paperwork and registration are air-soft replicas and bows. All other guns, including black powder, crossbows and airguns need a licence and must be registered. However, there are no restrictions on barrel length, caliber or number of owned guns – with some exceptions. Also, the waiting time is set to 30 days for most procedures. What is limited, is the number of rounds per weapon license. We’ll cover these later.
In other to get a license, the basic requirements for all weapons are:
- A medical check. Pretty basic stuff, takes 1 hour.
- A psychological check. Also basic stuff, takes 30 minutes.
- A criminal background check
- A gun safe at home. The ammo needs to be stored in a different locked compartment.
- A gun course diploma. This takes about a month with classes every day and a written test plus a shooting test at the end. It costs around 300 dollars.
Once you have all these, you can apply for the basic gun types that everybody can own: self-defense non-lethal guns and airguns that shoot 220 m/s or less. In Romanian conception, a self-defense weapon is a short gun that shoots rubber ball projectiles or gas. No lead bullets. Any person can have 2 self-defense guns and an unlimited number airguns for target shooting. Ammo is limited to 25 rounds for self-defence and 1000 rounds for target shooting for compressed air guns.
From here on, there are special categories of persons that have access to more types of guns.
Collectors: a person can become a collector by joining a collector’s association, wait 6 months and then apply for a collector license (in addition to the basic requirements). After that he can own all gun types except automatic guns and handguns designed after 1945, in unlimited numbers. The collectors are the only ones that can own black powder weapons. Needles to say that there is absolutely no usage of black powder in Romania (also you cannot buy it anywhere). Collectors can only keep their guns at home. They cannot own ammunition and cannot take the gun out of the house without a special permit from the police.
Hunters: a person can become a hunter after, in addition to the basic requirements, joins a hunting association, spends one year as an apprentice in hunting activities and passes a hunting exam. After that he can own an unlimited number of rifles and shotguns – Semi-automatic, bolt-action, pump-action, singleshot. And 300 rounds per caliber. Semi-auto rifles and shotguns are limited to 2 rounds magazines + 1 in the chamber. So maximum of 3 shots allowed. Calibers are not restricted per se, but there are restrictions on what caliber/cartridge length/energy can be used on specific game type.
Gun range instructors: a person can become a range officer after, in addition to the basic requirements, completes a long course of about 2 years, that costs around 2000 dollars, and gets hired at a gun range. He can than own an unlimited number of handguns and rifles with the purpose of target or competition shooting. Most weapons types are allowed, with a few exceptions such as rifles that looks like an automatic weapon. So no AR15s or AK47s. These cannot be carried in self-defense. He can own 1000 rounds per caliber.
Shooting athletes and coaches: a person is a shooting athlete if he passes a set score imposed by the romanian shooting federation. A person is a shooting coach if he has the appropriate courses and certifications. After that, the athlete and the coach can own an unlimited number of guns in the category in which he qualified. They can own 1000 rounds per caliber. The athletes are the only ones who can own an airgun that shoots faster than 220 m/s.
Defense and protection guns: this is the legal name of the normal handguns (concealed carry guns). Only a very limited set of persons can own a maximum of 2 handguns that they can concealed-carry: military personnel, policemen, judges, diplomats, MPs, witnesses under a protection program and a very nebulous set of persons that have a job that implies a public authority. They can own maximum 100 rounds and 50 blank rounds per gun.
Once you complete all the paperwork for the gun you are eligible to own, you go to the police, file the paperwork and request a gun buying authorization. Within 30 days, a police officer with come to your house to check on the gun safe. He might also ask the neighbors about you and what kind of person you are. He has the authority to deny the gun authorization if there are suspicions that you are a danger to society – but this very rarely happens. After the 30 days, you have to go back to the police and get the buying authorization. With the authorization you can go now and buy the gun from an authorized intermediary or an armorer. He will fill some details of the gun on the authorization. Within 3 days of the transaction, you have to go back to the police with the gun, the receipt and the authorization. The gun will be left there for 1-2 weeks for registration. After that, you can pick it up along with the new gun license. The license expires in 5 years. To renew it, you have to do the medical, psychological and criminal background checks again.
If you break the law, there are harsh consequences. Especially carrying a gun without a permit, using a gun when not authorized, modifying a gun or manufacturing ammunition, imply years of jail time sentences. Self-defense with a gun it a last resort option. Non proportional usage of a gun in self-defense is penalized.
Given all of that, it is no surprise that the gun lovers in Romania are few and far between, but there are some.
You can find more articles/video in English language here.
Other articles in English language:
– Romanian Gun Laws: who can own or conceal carry what types of guns [EN]
– All English language articles