The EU aims to tighten gun control in the Czech Republic, but the Czechs aren’t having it
On 25 April of this year, the European Council adopted an amendment, revising and complementing existing Directive 91/477/ECC, on the acquisition and possession of firearms. The justification for this further narrowing of the possibility to legally own a firearm was given as (PDF):
“Certain aspects of Directive 91/477/EEC need to be further improved in a proportionate way, in order to address the misuse of firearms for criminal purposes, and considering recent terrorist acts.“
Category A firearms, termed by the article ‘the most dangerous’, are only available on the basis of an exemption. Rules for these exemptions were strengthened, with possible rounds set on a limited list, with exemptions only allowed “where there is no risk to public security or public order.” New to Category A, and therefore prohibited for civilian use, are short, semi-automatic weapons with ‘loading devices’ over 20 rounds and long semi-automatic firearms with ‘loading devices’ over 10 rounds. The same goes for ‘easily concealed’ long firearms that have a folding, or telescopic stock.
At the time, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, and Poland voiced opposition. Yesterday, Reuters reported that the Czech Republic filed a lawsuit against the Directive on Friday. The Czech Ministry of the Interior states that the Directive is too harsh, affecting thousands of hunters – which is a popular activity with a long tradition in the Central European country. Minister Milan Chovanec said:
“Such a massive punishment of decent arms holders is unacceptable, because banning legally-held weapons has no connection with the fight against terrorism. This is not only a nonsensical decision once again undermining people’s trust in the EU, but implementing the directive could also have a negative impact on the internal security of the Czech Republic, because a large number of weapons could move to the black market.“
The Czech Republic, which has a population of 10.6 million, has more than 800.000 firearms of all categories registered among 300.000 permit holders. In June, the Lower House of Parliament even approved a bill putting right to gun ownership in the Constitution. Despite the number of guns owned, gun attacks are rare.