North Korea is a heavily controlled country, with the state keeping tight control over the citizens and their possessions. One of these possessions is guns – are guns legal in North Korea? On the surface it may appear that guns are not legal in North Korea, however, the reality is more complex. This article seeks to examine the legal situation concerning guns in North Korea and determine whether there are any restrictions placed on citizens when it comes to owning and using guns.
The Law Regarding Guns in North Korea
In North Korea, the law regarding guns is outlined in Article 1 of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) Constitution. It states that “all citizens are equal before the law regardless of political, national, ethnic and religious background” and that “all forms of military and civilian weapons are under the control of the state”. This suggests that guns may not be owned by citizens and are strictly controlled by the state. This is further supported by the Law on Gun Possession, which states that citizens buying, selling, and possessing firearms and ammunition is strictly prohibited.
Reality of Gun Ownership in North Korea
Despite the laws controlling gun ownership, there are reports that guns are widely used in North Korea. According to a report from the RAND Corporation, there is evidence of artillery pieces, armoured personnel carriers, rocket-propelled grenades, and other small arms being widely used by the North Korean military. Although the North Korean government does not release detailed information on the number of guns in circulation, it is estimated that there are approximately 2 million firearms owned by the military, law enforcement, and civilians.
Availability of Guns to Civilians
When it comes to the availability of guns to the general public in North Korea, the picture is somewhat murky. According to a recent report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, firearms do seem to be available to the general public in North Korea. However, the North Korean government insists that these firearms are strictly for hunting and sporting purposes. Nonetheless, anecdotal evidence suggests that guns are relatively easy to acquire in North Korea. Reports from North Korean defectors suggest that there are a number of illegal gun markets where firearms can be purchased, albeit at relatively high prices.
Implications of Gun Ownership in North Korea
Given the complete lack of any meaningful regulations or restrictions on gun ownership in North Korea, it is not surprising that gun violence is a serious issue. Violent crime, particularly gang-related activity, is on the rise in North Korea, and experts believe that the availability of firearms is a major contributing factor. The general lack of public trust in the North Korean police force is also a factor, as citizens who feel that the police are unable or unwilling to protect them may feel that the only way to protect themselves is to keep a gun in their home.
Civilian Use of Guns in North Korea
It is believed that civilians do have access to firearms in North Korea, and many North Korean defectors have reported using guns for hunting and sport. However, it is also believed that civilians use firearms for self-defence, and estimates suggest that there are up to 300,000 privately owned guns in North Korea.
Gun Regulations and Reforms
As the availability of firearms in North Korea increases and violent crime rates surge, the North Korean government is slowly beginning to recognize the need for gun regulations and reforms. In recent years, there has been some talk of instituting regulations on firearms, but nothing has been implemented as of yet. Despite the lack of action, experts believe that if the North Korean government is serious about curbing the rising levels of gun violence, it will need to introduce regulations and reforms to address the issue.
Despite laws controlling gun ownership, there are widespread reports of guns being used by the military and civilians in North Korea. While the North Korean government maintains that these firearms are used for hunting and sport, it is believed that civilians also use them for self-defence. As gun violence is on the rise in North Korea, the North Korean government is beginning to recognize the need for gun regulations and reforms. However, it remains to be seen if and when these regulations will be implemented.