Iraq Changes its Gun Laws

    Iraqi gun store

    Baghdad gun store in an affluent area (REUTERS/Wissm al-Okili)

    Iraq has made some fundamental changes to its firearms laws. The Iraqi government has shifted its policy and begun to allow for Iraqi civilians to legally own firearms not just for sporting purposes but also for self-defence.

    Historically, Iraq’s gun laws have been harsh with citizens unable to own firearms without a government issued license from the Ministry of Interiors. After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the dismantling of parts of the Iraqi government the illegal gun trade in Iraq skyrocketed. With black market trade flourishing in pistols and rifles stolen from former Iraqi armouries and arsenals. As a result Iraqi firearms laws have remained robust in an effort to curb illegal sales.

    In recent years, however, the sale of rifles and shotguns for sporting and hunting use have been allowed. Despite this many Iraqis have been ‘secret’ gun owners. In a sign of a change of approach in mid August the Iraqi government began allowing citizens to own firearms for self-defence.

    Baghdad gun store

    Haider al-Suhail, a tribal sheikh, examines a pistol (REUTERS/Wissm al-Okili)

    Reuters recently visited a thriving gun store in Karrada, an upper class district of Baghdad, its owner Hamza Maher told them that:

    Customers are mainly men, but the number of women buyers is growing. The reason for buying is self-defence, or some people buy them as a hobby, and it’s safer for citizens to buy a weapon from an authorised store instead of from an unknown source.

    Maher’s shop is reportedly selling pistol for between $1,000 and $4,500, with AK-pattern rifles selling for between $400 and $4,500, depending on the brand and manufacturing origin. From the photographs Reuters shared, the shop sells a wide range of traditional and more tactical shotguns (including one which appears to be a UTAS UTS-15), as well as numerous AR-15 variants and air rifles.

    Iraqi citizens wishing to own a firearm have to apply for authorisation from the government who then issue an identity card. The serial number of the guns sold to individuals are recorded on a database.


    Matthew Moss

    Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]