The right sort of gun control

A mayor in northern Italy has had enough of crimes committed against his citizens – and he’s fighting back in a way I can wholeheartedly support.

A mayor from a town in Northern Italy began setting up a local fund to help townspeople buy guns … Mayor Gianluca Buonanno, a Northern League politician from the Piedmont region, said the fund will help the people of his town defend against home intruders.

“I want to increase the defense capability and security of my fellow citizens,” said Buonanno, as reported by BBC, adding “I say better cemeteries full of criminals than empty prisons.”

Buonanno’s initiative with the gun fund appeared racially-charged to some members of Italian media, as the announcement came following the widely-covered death of a Romanian man killed by a retiree while he was attempting to burgle his house. The elderly Italian was charged with manslaughter, and many Northern League politicians took to Twitter and other forms of social media to voice their outrage.

The Northern League party has made gun ownership a central issue, turning it into a rallying cry for personal freedom and protection.

. . .

The fund would give interested townspeople 250 euros toward the purchase of a gun, which is around 30 percent of the price of a small firearm in Italy.

There’s more at the link.

I’m surprised at the prices quoted.  If the average small firearm in Italy costs plus-or-minus 830 Euros (extrapolating from the figures quoted above), that translates to about US $915 – very high indeed for a handgun or shotgun.  Our prices are typically half that for something worthwhile and trustworthy.  Can anyone tell us why Italian firearm prices are so high?

Perhaps Americans of Italian extraction would like to do what the NRA did during World War II, when it sent rifles to Britain for use by that country’s Home Guard.  I should think there are enough Italian-Americans to arm most of Italy, if it comes to that . . . although the provenance of some of the firearms, particularly from cities where the Mafia is active, might raise a few eyebrows!



  1. Italy has signed on to the UN Arms Trade Treaty. The specifics of how Italy has implemented its end of the Treaty could be a problem for sending firearms into Italy legally, gift or not.

  2. Here in the UK, the rule of thumb on prices of firearms and suchlike is that you convert from dollars to pounds by changing "dollars" to "pounds" – the numbers remain the same. So our prices are half as much again as yours.

  3. VAT may explain a good part of the price difference. The rest is labour law at the retail sise, plus the unfavourable exhange against a weak dollar.

  4. It would have to involve taxation and other fees. After all it's possible to get a decent Italian made pistol in the US for significantly less than that price.

  5. Peter, as a student of history I suspect you know bloody well what happened to the majority of the thousands of rifles, shotguns, and handguns sent to our British cousins. Most were used to arm the home guard who had been drilling with broomsticks for lack of better arms. A fair number of German aviators who bailed out over British soil were taken prisoner by the British equivalent of our militia armed with those donated weapons.
    A few such were actually returned to their former owners. I recall one rifle owned by a competition shooter who affixed a brass plate to the stock with his name and address. After the war it was sent back to him.
    But for the vast majority of those freely donated arms, shortly after the war the British government either melted them down or dumped then into the sea. As we both know full well, Brits are subjects, Americans are citizens.
    I suspect it'll be a cold day indeed before any American guns get sent to the UK, and not much better chance for Italy. Maybe a few 3D printers might be a better idea.

  6. One factor that keeps the price of handguns up in Italy is (unless I've been misinformed by several sources) that the common 9mm Luger (9*19) is illegal to own by civilians. It's classified as a "military caliber" and can only be used by military and police. Italians are instead forced to use 9*18 or similar caliber, which of course are not as commonly available and therefore more expensive. (I'm also informed France has the same issue.)

    As for other types of guns, as a previous commenter suggested it's a combination of VAT, taxes, regulatory fees that impact the customer and the smaller size of the market. The dollar prize probably dont matter much, many European countries make excellent rifles and handguns. Glock for instance is made in Austria, just across the border.

    This is not just a problem in Italy, but in all of Europe, so it cant be avoided by importing guns from other European countries. And importing from the US will not be cheaper due to all sorts of import regulations.

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