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It is a common misconception that guns are completely illegal in Taiwan, and that no citizen may have one when the opposite is true. Civilians are allowed to own shotguns, regular rifles and handguns but not assault rifles. Licenses are required for all guns, as well as a background check.
Firearms training is also considered a form of martial arts in Taiwan, there are some parts of Taiwan that have a strong gun culture, especially the rural parts. Shooting ranges sometimes are adjacent or next to a hand-combat martial arts dojo.
Also, because of Taiwan's complicated foreign relations with the People's Republic of China, the Taiwanese government and many patriotic law enforcement programs have stressed their support of citizens' need to be armed in case of a potential military invasion from the People's Republic of China.
Much of Taiwan's gun culture is geared towards hunting wild game and target shooting, as well as self protection, though most gun owners don't normally emphasize on self protection due to Taiwan's low crime rate. Many of Taiwan's law enforcement programs have explicitly stated that guns are legal for self defense, quoting the Dali Lama on it.
Out of a population of about 25,000,000 there are approximately 1,080,200 gun owners in Taiwan and about 3,332,235 legally owned guns.
There are three types of gun classifications in Taiwan. There are the Civilian Class weapons which include regular rifles. The others, the Military Class include assault rifles, and fully automatic firearms, and the Neutral Class include handguns, shotguns and sniper rifles. Taiwanese citizens are only legally allowed to to buy weapons from the Civilian and Neutral Classes, while the Military Class weapons live up to its name, they are only allowed in the hands of police and the army as well as veterans.
Different types of guns also require different licenses for Taiwanese citizens.
Hunting lawsLaws regarding hunting wild game are left up to land owners and local jurisdiction, there are no uniform laws enforced at the federal level for hunting and pest control. Most of Taiwanese gun owners pride themselves in hunting.
Rifle Authorization Card
A Rifle Authorization Card (Chinese: 步枪授权卡) allows a Taiwanese citizen to purchase any weapons from the Civilian Class, as well as shotguns and sniper rifles from the Neutral Class. The minimum age for an RAC is 18. All that is required is a background check and mental health check to be granted a Rifle Authorization Card, a there is a three-day waiting period. A holder of a Rifle Authorization Card is allowed to have their gun in their vehicle, except in government-owned property and gun-free zones.
Taiwanese citizens may also apply for a Hand License (Chinese: 手许可证), which allows them both own a pistol and carry it in public. The minimum age for Hand Licenses is 21. Applicants must go through a background check, as well as for mental illnesses. There is a one-week waiting period, and the license is issued by the local police. All Hand Licenses contain a uniform appearance.
A Veteran License (Chinese: 老将许可证) guarantees holders more liberties. This type of license is never issued to ordinary citizens, and only former members of the military and police. A Veteran License allows a holder to carry their weapons, any weapon, even in gun-free zones, and government property.
Is is commonly said that Taiwanese citizens can't use guns to defend themselves, yet this is a clear misconception. It is completely legal, to use any gun as a form of self-defense in Taiwan, and anybody using an unregistered firearm or with no license in the act of good-faith self defense won't be found guilty of any criminal charges. However, this practice is not common among Taiwanese families who often discourage the use of a firearm to take out anybody's lives unless its a last report option. Taiwanese people remain divided on the issue of self-defense. About 42% of gun owners stated that they would use a firearm for self-defense, while most either prefer hand-to-hand use or guns only as a last resort.
Shooting clubs and ranges
Since firearms training is considered a form of martial arts in Taiwan, it is very common to see shooting ranges adjacent or in the same building as a hand martial arts studio. Many shooting ranges are designed just like martial arts studios.
Some popular shooting ranges in Taiwan include the Taipei Sporting Center and the Dragon's Indoor Range.