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.