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Polish gun laws permits

By Andrzej Turczyn and Maciej Rozwadowski

In Poland, the right to possess a firearm does not exist in the terms defined by the American Second Amendment. The basis of the regulations in this area was created at a time when Poland was a USSR satellite country and was necessarily permeated by the communist way of thinking. The possession of weapons by civilians is a privilege and a distinction under Polish law, which is also an expression of level of trust of state authorities in the average citizen.

Possession of firearms without a permit issued by the police is a crime punishable by up to 8 years of imprisonment. Possession of even a single round of ammunition (e.g. .22 short caliber) may result in the initiation of cumbersome and lengthy court proceedings and could result in criminal liability.

Poles may only possess, without any permits, black powder guns and replicas of weapons from from before 1885. To buy this kind of weapon, Poles only have to be 18 years old. This is one of the very few exceptions to the strict rationing of firearm access in the country.

Firerarms in Poland
Permits issued (blue) and registered firearms (orange) in Poland by year (in thousands). Source: KGP (courtesy wikipedia)

You must have a “reason”

Permits to own a firearm are issued by the police in Poland. In order to obtain such a permit, you must demonstrate a justified need to possess a weapon. Such needs, indicated in the law, include sport shooting, hunting, collecting weapons, historical reconstruction, training, and personal protection.

Permits are issued for an indefinite period of time after undergoing a rather expensive and time-consuming procedure. The police specify for what purpose the permit was issued, what kind of weapon and how many firearms can you have. Each weapon must be registered and its location must be indicated.

In addition to proof of need, a number of general requirements must be met in order to obtain a permit. You must undergo psychological, ophthalmological, and psychiatric examinations as well as a general physical exam (reasons for refusing to issue a permit may include e.g. diabetes or a visual impairment). The police may appeal against the medical or psychological opinion without giving any reasonable arguments.

In addition, there are specific requirements for each type of permit. In order to obtain a permit for sport shooting you have to be a member of a shooting sports association, you must have a shooting license which is issued for one year and which must be renewed annually for a fee. You also have to take part in a certain number of shooting competitions each year and have this fact documented.

The procedure for obtaining a gun permit for sporting purposes takes at least half a year, and it can be much longer. The cost of such a permit is higher than the average monthly salary and doesn’t include the cost of buying the gun itself. This means that not everyone can afford to become a gun owner.

The weapon permit covers any kind of weapon, except for full-auto weapons and those with a calibre greater then 12mm. The police issue a single sport permit for four to six firearms.

In order to obtain a weapon permit for hunting purposes you must be a member of the Polish Hunting Association. You have to pass a one-year course organized by the association including compulsory volunteer work within the framework of the hunting circle of which the future hunter is a member. The necessity to work unpaid for the association for one year discourages many Poles from becoming hunters.

Courtesy Polish Hunting Association

The procedure for obtaining a hunting permit always takes more than a year. The weapons permit only covers long weapons, rifles and shotguns, and combined hunting weapons. On this permit, the hunter is not allowed to possess any small arms or any rimfire weapons. The police issue a permit for approximately five firearms.

In order to be approved for weapon ownership as a collector, you have to be a member of the association whose activity concerns the collection of firearms and you have to pass a police exam on your ability to use the weapons. The procedure takes several months. The permit is valid for any kind of weapon, except for full-auto weapons.

Within the framework of this permit you can have several firearms, both short and long weapons, however, you cannot carry this weapon, only transport it unloaded in a suitable case.

Weapons possessed on the basis of the permit for personal defense, for sports or training purposes may be carried loaded and concealed. Open carry is totally prohibited in Poland.

You can have a weapon for self-defense, but…

Under Polish law, in order to obtain a permit for a weapon for personal protection, you must prove that your life is in constant, real, and above-average danger. Thus, in order for the police to even begin considering whether a citizen can be given the means of armed self-defense, there must be a real threat to his or her health or life.

Of course, the start of an appropriate administrative procedure requires that the citizen is still alive after this kind of “trial by fire.” It is very difficult to show any logic in this procedure, so let the above rules be a warning to American citizens how complicated the law can be when political power is taken over by a disease called “leftism.”

In actual practice, permits for self-defense weapons are issued only to persons who are somehow privileged; politicians, former members of the uniformed services or persons from a privileged background. Permits for personal defense were also issued to officers of the former communist forces.

For ordinary citizens, such permits are generally unavailable. The police are able to refuse to issue permits for weapons to people who have been shot at by criminals because they do not see an “above-average danger” in such a situation.

Police have even refused to allow other policemen or service officers to defend themselves. There is a known case of an average citizen who requested permission for a weapon for self-defense. He did not receive such a permit, and a year later a criminal shot and killed his wife and also tried to kill him. The only reason it wasn’t a double murder was because the assailant’s weapon jammed.

Only 144 permits for carrying a gun for self-defense purposes were issued in Poland in 2019.

Hard to get and easy to lose

A weapon permit can be revoked at any time if any reason for originally obtaining the permit becomes obsolete (e.g. a sports shooter doesn’t take part in a sufficient number of competitions). Another reason is a conviction for any crime in Poland. A conviction for the tiniest act excludes the possibility of ever obtaining a gun permit.

Polish gun rights competition permit

If a permit is revoked, firearms are confiscated by the police and placed in a depository. For each day of storage, an official fee is charged to the citizen for each weapon.

Some numbers

About 38 million people live in Poland. Over 200,000 people have a gun permit of some kind. In total, there are about 600,000 firearms in the hands of civilians. The actual number of firearms per 100 citizens is about 1.5 to 2.5 (depending on the criteria adopted), which places Poland firmly at the low end of countries in this respect.

A significant increase in weapons permits has been recorded since 2011 when there was a change in the law. The firearms permitting law, the origin of which dates back to the 1960s, was replaced by a law that makes it significantly more difficult for the police to refuse to issue weapons permits.

Since 2011, if someone meets the criteria described in the law, he be issues a permit. However, this does not change the fact that the authority responsible for issuing permits acts in a way that discourages people from possessing weapons and minimizes the number of permits issued.

According to statements made by representatives of police authorities, which can be easily found in the media, Polish taxpayers are not suitable gun owners. They warn that the increased number of firearms in the hands of citizens will surely lead to a situation where people will commonly deal with their neighbors by using their legally-owned firearms.

The right to self-defense is a natural human right

The difficulty of Polish citizens obtaining firearms permits results from the fact that socialist parties are constantly ruling in Poland. Sometimes they call themselves conservatives, but they always have a socialist agenda. It should be remembered that left-wing thinking never goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of civil rights and individual liberties.

An example is the currently ruling Law and Justice party. The politicians of this party call themselves conservatives. The fact is that the leader of the party demands even more regulations and restrictions on civilian access to firearms.

Poland Law and Justice Party
Logo of the Polish Law and Justice Party

In 2011 there was an association established in Poland which was supposed to be like American shooting associations. Similar to America’s National Rifle Association, the Polish equivalent is the ROMB which translates to the Polish Gun Enthusiasts Association.

For 10 years the ROMB has been making efforts to introduce the subject of the possession and carrying of firearms by law-abiding citizens into the public debate and to give this issue its proper social rank. In Poland, there is still no civilized right to keep and bear arms. Instead we have strict rationing, forced registration and the omnipotence of the state power apparatus. Citizens and their rights are completely ignored.

Unfortunately, successive socialist governments have no interest in expanding the right to keep and bear arms. Instead, they deceive and hinder it. Poland seems to be a very socialist country where there is no respect for individual natural rights, in particular the God-given right to armed self defense.

People who created and support the ROMB treat the right to keep and bear arms as a natural right of every human being. The example of Poland shows how deeply the authorities can interfere in civil rights issues, allowing a law-abiding citizen to be deprived of the possibility of effective defense against a criminal attack.

Watching from afar, we view the struggle of Americans to protect their Second Amendment rights as a normal and understandable action. The disarmament of a law-abiding society puts individuals entirely at the mercy of government and criminals.

America, one of the last bastions of freedom and cannot give up or give in to totalitarian politics. The people of Poland have been under the communist boot, so we understand perfectly well the resistance of American society to the leftist power of the Democrats.

There is an old Polish proverb that says “A wise Pole…after the failure.” We hope our American colleagues don’t follow and attain wisdom before this failure occurs.


Andrzej Turczyn is the president of ROMB, Poland’s equivalent of the NRA, the publisher the Firearms Tribune blog, and an NRA member.

Maciej Rozwadowski is a Firearms Tribune contributor and an NRA member.


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    • Could you please, for the love of god, stop commenting in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS? It’s cool if you want to spew the contents of your obviously diseased mind all over the comments section, but turn off the caps lock. It’s just rude.

      • Knowing how to write properly is evidence of being literate. Part of being literate is understanding the use of capitalization. God blesses us all in different ways and in varying measures.

      • Rich, I read your comment before I read Mr. ALLCAPS.
        Not sure why, but it’s harder to read in all caps. I usually skip them.

        • It’s called SHOUTING. Now on to things that matter…There is a post below that everyone who is serious about fighting to keep the filthy hands of Gun Control Zealots off The Second Amendment needs to copy, paste and circulate not once but often. Your fellow Americans throughout history have also been on the receiving end of Gun Control and to say nothing is to condone it.

          ABN LRRP RGR 3 tours RVN says:
          January 20, 2021 at 19:59

      • Seriously? Commenting on writing in caps is the important take on these comments? What a bunch of buffons. So much for an intellectual discussion.

  2. The Communist government of Poland went away 30 years ago.

    They still have Communist gun control laws. The oligarchs never want the peasants to have guns.

  3. I am curious to know what the weapons law was in Poland before September 1, 1939.

    Just my historical curiosity about European civilization on that continent and around the world.

    • In short, there were permits, given by civilian administration, not the police like today. As I read, it wasn’t good aslo in that day, the gun permints were given discretionary, due to political relations, maybe exeption were permits for hunters. However the criminal law was much more friendly, if you were cought with illegal weapon, that had “military purpouce” there was smth like~~ 2 years max in prison and with “not military gun” jail/ fine. Today it is up to 8 years for guns or ammo…

  4. The saying is more correctly translated as “A Pole is wiser after an injury”, but OK
    One of the EU Representatives working to further limit firearms rights in Europe by way of “the Directive” (on fireams etc? , I forget the full name) is/was – regrettably – a Polish woman.
    The fundamental challenge is that most of Europe (Poland included) does not come from a libertarian/Lockean intellectual tradition. Founded in 966 (I didn’t skip a digit), Poland was a monarchy through most of its existence.
    Although Tadeusz Kosciuszko was a friend of Thomas Jefferson and fought in the American Revolution, the ideas he took back to Poland afterwards were not enough to affect the Polish political and civil construct in any meaningful way.

  5. Goodness gracious, the laws haven’t changed at all since the Soviets were in power. That is depressing

    • You kidding? Most ‘progressives’ (particularly those from ultra-left enclaves like California, Hawaii, New Jersey, etc.) would come so hard they’d pass out after reading about Poland’s gun policy.

  6. FYI

    California State Senator Alan Sieroty, Democrat, co-author of the Mulford Act was a member of, the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee, American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League of b’nai b’rith and he served on the board of directors of the American civil liberties Union.

    He also was an immigrant from Poland.

    And he is responsible for helping to write the most racist gun control law in modern US history. Not all but he like many immigrants, want to turn the USA into the sh!t hole they ran away from.

  7. Most European populations are like this — disarmed and helpless. Then again, most of Europe was ruled by kings who did not want their subjects to be able to resist. When the monarchies fell, the governments that replaced them wanted to maintain the same level of control of the populace.

    We aren’t just a little better than the Euros, we’re a lot better. For now.

  8. Replicas of firearms made before 1885? No permits required? I’ll take an Uberti 1873 Colt and a matching 1873 Winchester. May not be perfect but it’s much better than harsh language.

    • The usual number. They are just as smart as everyone else.

      One of my older relatives gave me a book of Pollock jokes when I was a kid. I thought they were funny as hell, and I started telling them to all the other school kids.

      But as I grew older, I learned about science. I eventually realized that Pollock jokes are both incompatible with science, and just downright mean.

      • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Polish on my Dads side ( Kashub actually but that’s a long story) our fave thing to do at dinner was tell the best/worst pollock jokes we’d heard that day. Never laughed so hard in my life.

  9. It sounds to me like the best option in Poland is a cap and ball revolver. The 1863 Remington or 1849 Colt would be summer carry, and the 1851 Colt or 1858 Remington would be winter carry. All of those are pre-1885. I wonder if the 1873 Colt SAA and Winchester 1873 would be in the clear too, along with the old style double barrel coach gun. If not, a SASS membership would cover you there.

    In other news, the 12mm caliber limit sounds like 50 caliber, the upper limit in USA before a rifle becomes a “Destructive Device”. It’s almost like the democrats copied and pasted it from the Soviet Union laws.

    • This was sent to me a few months ago, some of you might have seen it before…..


      In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

      In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

      Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

      China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

      Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

      Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

      Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

      Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.

      It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by their own Government, a program costing Australia taxpayers more than $500 million dollars. The first year results are now in:

      List of 7 items:

      Australia-wide, homicides are up 3.2 percent.

      Australia-wide, assaults are up 8.6 percent.

      Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent (yes, 44 percent)!

      In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent. Note that while the law-abiding citizens turned them in, the criminals did not, and criminals still possess their guns!

      While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically upward in the past 12 months, since criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed.

      There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults of the ELDERLY. Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public safety has decreased, after such monumental effort, and expense was expended in successfully ridding Australian society of guns. The Australian experience and the other historical facts above prove it.

      You won’t see this data on the US evening news, or hear politicians disseminating this information…. The NY Sullivan Act intended to tip the advantage toward Irish criminals, away from Italian criminals, and far away from the lawful.

      Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely affect only the law-abiding citizens.

      Take note my fellow Americans, before it’s too late!

      The next time someone talks in favor of gun control, please remind them of this history lesson.

      With guns, we are ‘citizens’. Without them, we are ‘subjects’.

      During WWII the Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED!

  10. I’m reading this and draw comparisons to Maryland “may issue” carry laws. Just replace a few words from this article,,, for civilians to have a firearm on ones person it is a privilege and a distinction under Maryland law. Marylanders are not equal under the law.

  11. Very interesting article. I had no idea Poland’s gun laws were that locked down. I just figured after the Soviets were gone that gun laws were more relaxed, especially hunting. Seems I figured wrong.

    • It is no that bad. Since 2011, most gun permits are no longer discretionary (the most useful and versatile). If you meet requirement (you are not mad, criminal, you can handle the gun safely), you will get the gun and you can get 99% of constructions on the market, exept full auto guns and above 12mm hand guns (center fire)

  12. “…Polish taxpayers are not suitable gun owners.

    So, I guess it’s not terribly surprising that this is a country where Covid isolation gets you a daily phone call or text which you have 20 minutes to reply to in the form of a selfie showing you in your assigned isolation location and with geotagging turned on? Photos must also be suitable for facial recognition software to process and identify you.

    Failure to comply in full and on time means the cops are dispatched to your phone’s location.

  13. And yet Poland is one of the most open,capitalistic and open countries in Europe…which is SAD 😢😞😖We have a good friend who regularly travels to Poland(& elsewhere) to buy clothes& accessories for her shop & antiquey shows she runs…

  14. Polish politicians have little to fear from the ordinary person. It’s a status out ruling class would prefer here. If criminals were actually punished and deterred maybe we could accept it. Many countries do because their justice system is pretty straight forward. Here it’s a business and game played by power seekers. Culture plays a large part as homogenous countries have fewer problems than out wonderfully diverse melting pot does. People play by the same rules in places like Japan.
    Don’t think for a minute these restrictions won’t be tried here. The UK used to be fairly easy on gun ownership as well as OZ. Now the gun groups are seated at the right hand of government and make sure no one gets their gun rights back.

  15. On the scale of May Issue to Shall Issue Poland is May Issue, but really reluctant about it.

    Makes Australia look like a Shall Issue. Yes, we have a process. People have been denied for traffic violations but we are talking about repeat offenders with impulsive self control issues. If you have a clean record, no drug offenses, and follow the processes, a firearms license is granted without too much fuss in most states, well in 5 of 6. WA has always been a police state with regard to firearms.

  16. Our US Constitution doesn’t mean squat anymore, hasn’t for quite some time. States, SCOTUS, politicians and others regularly ignore it.

    • You’re able to say that without fearing that the Feds will break down your door. That means the First Amendment is still alive and well.

      • The First Amendment also covers the free exercise of religion and the right to peaceably assemble — both of them went into the dumpster the minute that governments could trash them.

        1A is dead.

  17. All that is, sadly, true.

    But don’t forget that, with all this infringements considered, Poland is still much more “free” than the most of Europe.

    There’s, for example, no “assault weapons ban”, nor is the permit issuing system fully may-issue – there are the ways (like mentioned “sporting…” and “collecting purpose”) to trigger the shall-issue review of application.

    Granted, it takes jumping through many hoops, fulfilling idiotic requirements, is expensive, etc. – but once this trail of tears is completed, police (to their everlasting frustration) cannot deny the application.

    Comparing this with the rest of EU – with the noble exception of Czechia – there’s hardly any place near where it’s possible for average guy to get a concealed-carry-enabling permit, or where one may have modern semi-autos

    Last but not least, in polish gunl law there is also a lot of legal nonsense – e.g. one cannot carry concealed guns registered as “collectible”, but… there’s no consequences for it (not even revoking the permit) – no one though about it when writing the law.

  18. I live in Poland and i can confirm that the total cost to get a firearms license is approximately $ 650. Now I pay the cost of membership in the shooting club and obligatory competitions every year. Which makes the annual cost of owning a weapon around $ 250-350. Of course, these costs do not include weapons and ammunition and only apply to administration fees. God save America from a leftist President!

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