Thursday

9th Dec 2021

EU to restrict buying of semi-automatic guns

  • EU plans to introduce tougher gun control laws to foil terrorist attacks (Photo: Reuters)

EU interior ministers agreed on Friday (10 June) to tighten gun control rules in the aftermath of the Paris and Brussels terror attacks.

The proposal, which still needs to be ratified by the European Parliament, includes an EU-wide regime on deactivated firearms.

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  • Gunshop in Prague. the Czech Republic has more liberal gun control laws than the average EU country (Photo: Peter Teffer)

Deactivated arms can be restored for use by criminals, but some member states had said the new requirements would harm collectors and hunters.

The new rules aim to make it easier to track down illegal guns and make it harder to buy semi-automatic rifles.

Some states wanted to ban civilians from owning the most lethal models of semi-automatic rifles, but the bill includes multiple exceptions for museums and target shooters.

The Paris attackers killed dozens of people using these types of guns.

But the European Commission’s original text was watered down by countries including the Czech Republic, which favoured liberal gun laws, and Finland, which has civilian militias.

Switzerland, which is not an EU member but which cooperates with the EU on security issues, also favoured liberal laws.

The minister from Luxembourg, where the EU meeting was held on Friday, said the bill is full of loopholes.

The Dutch security and justice minister Ard van der Steur, speaking for the Dutch EU presidency, said: "We struck the right balance between improving security for EU citizens and [protecting] the internal market for firearms”.

EU home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "Some member states are not very happy with this directive, but the majority [of member states] agreed”.

EU reconsiders anti-terrorism response

An emergency meeting of interior ministers could take place Thursday. But border security, use of databases and EU cooperation were already on the table last autumn.

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The EU parliament backed a provisional deal with member states to tighten EU gun laws. EU states now have to formally adopt their position before the new legislation is enacted.

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