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EU firearms laws amended to tackle illicit weapons, not law-abiding gun owners

Date

13 Jul 2016

Sections

Security

Brussels, 13th July 2016 -- An update to the EU's firearms directive - that would have banned many firearms used by hunters and sportsmen - has been reformed by a series of amendments voted by the European Parliament's internal market committee today.

The directive, steered through the parliament by Vicky Ford MEP, will instead focus on closing loopholes on so-called 'acoustic' firearms (typically guns converted to fire blanks for ceremonial purposes).   Some of these have been used in recent terror attacks, including at Charlie Hebdo.

The European Commission published a proposal to update the firearms legislation last November. The commission's changes were poorly drafted and led to many concerns about their impact on hunters, sports shooters, museums and re-enactments with many of the firearms that they use or display being placed in the Category A list which prohibits them for civilian use. 

The position adopted by the committee today will limit the reclassification to  semi-automatic firearms capable of firing more than 21 rounds, and some folding or telescopic firearms, as Category A. An exemption will also be possible by Member States for sport shooters in recognised clubs.   The Point 22 rifles used in the UK for pest control or by game keepers will not be added to the Category A list. 

On 'acoustic' firearms – often known as 'blank' guns – the rules will ensure that a live firearm that is converted to a 'blank' will continue to have the same level of control as in its original status. 

Film makers, theatre producers and those involved in military re-enactments had raised problems with the new European standards on deactivation which were introduced last November.  These contained a number of technical irregularities which have also been addressed in the parliament's new text, as have concerns raised by museums including the Imperial War Museum and Royal Armouries.

Speaking after today's vote, Vicky Ford MEP, the European Conservatives and Reformists' chair of the parliament's internal market committee, said:

"The Paris and Charlie Hebdo attacks highlighted the potential dangers of blank firing or 'acoustic' weapons being reactivated. We have taken action to close that loophole and make it more difficult for these firearms to fall into the hands of terrorists who use them for such bloody carnage.       

"The commission's proposal was poorly drafted in many parts. We have tried to take into consideration all the concerns of law-abiding citizens to make sure that they can continue with their sports, military enactments and traditional hunting.  

"My priority will continue to be closing the loopholes, without causing unintended consequences for legitimate gun owners. I will continue with this approach as we start talks with EU governments to deliver the final directive."   

ENDS 

For more information go to : http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en

Vicky Ford will hold a press point at 16.30 outside the committee room (Jan 4Q1). The press point will be broadcast on EBS http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/ebs/live.cfm?page=2  

Contact: ECR Press Office, James Holtum on +32 473 861762; james.holtum@europarl.europa.eu or Robert Taylor on +32 498 984760 or Robert.taylor@ep.Europa.eu

The ECR was created to take the EU in a new direction, according to the principles of our founding Prague Declaration.

For more information on the ECR, watch our promotional video at http://youtu.be/F5syQt1JuQI or visit our website: www.ecrgroup.eu

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