Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

European Parliament Passes Stringent New Gun Controls

Friday, March 17, 2017

European Parliament Passes Stringent New Gun Controls

On March 14, the European Union completed one of the final steps in imposing stringent new gun controls across the political bloc, when the European Parliament approved legislation to alter the EU Firearms Directive by a vote of 491 to 178. The Firearms Directive was last amended in 2008. Passage comes after a deal to significantly alter the European Commission’s initial proposal was struck last December between the European Parliament and European Council. The legislation is now set to be approved by the European Council.

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, the European Union expedited plans to overhaul the Firearms Directive, which sets forth the minimum threshold of gun control that each Member State must enact. Issued November 18, 2015, the draft proposal from the European Commission contained a number of onerous restrictions, most notably a vague ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms.

The initial draft was met with harsh criticism in countries with strong traditions of civilian gun ownership and participation in the shooting sports, such as the Czech Republic, Germany, and Poland. Switzerland and Finland also held concerns that the proposal would impede their national defense, as it could have curtailed the ability of their reservists to train with and possess firearms.

After much negotiation, on December 20, 2016 the European Parliament and European Council announced that they had reached an agreement on a heavily amended version of the European Commission’s proposal. It was this amended version of the legislation that Members of the European Parliament passed this week. It is expected that the European Council will approve of this legislation without significant delay.

Significant Changes to the EU Firearms Directive

The most significant changes in the legislation would further restrict semi-automatic firearms and magazines, alter the current firearm licensing categories, require additional qualifications for gun owner licensing, and impose additional marking and registration requirements. 

Semi-automatic Firearms and Magazines

Under the current Firearms Directive, automatic firearms are considered “Category A – Prohibited firearms,” which civilians are generally prohibited from possessing. Semi-automatic firearms are considered “Category B – Firearms subject to authorization,” which civilians are permitted to possess subject to government permission. 

In their initial proposal, the European Commission sought to place several types of commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms in Category A, barring civilian ownership of “Semi-automatic firearms for civilian use which resemble weapons with automatic mechanisms.”

The European Parliament’s legislation has curtailed this ambiguous ban. The updated legislation places into Category A, “Automatic firearms which have been converted into semi-automatic firearms,” and, “Semi-automatic long firearms… that can be reduced to a length of less than 60cm without losing functionality by means of a folding or telescoping stock or by a stock that can be removed without using tools.”

It also places the following centerfire semi-automatic firearms into Category A:

(a) short firearms which allow the firing of more than 21 rounds without reloading, if:

(i) a loading device with a capacity exceeding 20 rounds is part of that firearm; or
(ii) a detachable loading device with a capacity exceeding 20 rounds is inserted into it;

(b) long firearms which allow the firing of more than 11 rounds without reloading, if:

(i) a loading device with a capacity exceeding 10 rounds is part of that firearm; or
(ii) a detachable loading device with a capacity exceeding 10 rounds is inserted into it. 

Further, a change to Category B explicitly states that Category B (firearms permitted for civilian ownership pursuant to government authorization) includes “Semi-automatic firearms for civilian use which resemble weapons with automatic mechanisms” other than those described above.

Under this regime, an individual is still permitted to possess a semi-automatic firearm like the AR-15, as long as it is not equipped with a magazine with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. 

In an attempt to address Switzerland’s concern that it would have to alter the tradition of permitting former members of the Swiss militia system to keep their service rifles upon completing their service, the new legislation specifically exempts Swiss practice from the Category A restriction on firearms converted from automatic to semi-automatic, providing,

Member States applying a military system based on general conscription and having in place over the last 50 years a system of transfer of military firearms to persons leaving the army after fulfilling their military duties may grant to those persons, in their capacity as a target shooter, an authorisation to keep one firearm used during the mandatory military period. The relevant public authority shall transform those firearms into semi-automatic firearms and shall periodically check that the persons using such firearms do not represent a risk to public security. 

The new legislation also permits Member States to authorize target shooters to possess the semi-automatic firearms and magazines in Category A. However, to do so the shooter must provide proof that they are “actively practising for or participating in shooting competitions recognised by an officially recognised shooting sports organisation of the Member State concerned or by an internationally established and officially recognised shooting sport federation.”

Further Changes to Firearms Categories

In addition to moving certain configurations of semi-automatic firearms into Category A, the legislation shifts other types of firearms to new categories. 

Under the current Firearms Directive, “Category C — Firearms and weapons subject to declaration” consists primarily of single-shot rifles and certain types of shotguns. To possess a Category C firearm, the possessor must declare to their government that they have the firearm. Single–shot shotguns fall under Category D and are not subject to restriction.

The legislation to alter the Firearms Directive removes Category D, moving the types of firearms covered by the category into Category C. Therefore, under the new legislation, possession of all firearms will be subject to some form of government oversight. 

Further, the new legislation makes clear that any firearm “that has been converted to firing blanks, irritants, other active substances or pyrotechnic rounds or into a salute or acoustic weapon,” remains within its initial category for regulatory purposes.

Gun Owner Licensing and Qualifications

The new legislation changes the licensing (authorization) requirements for acquisition and possession of firearms.
 

Member States must establish “a monitoring system, which they may operate on a continuous or non-continuous basis, to ensure that the conditions of authorisation set by national law are met throughout the duration of the authorisation,” and requires that “Where any of the conditions of authorisation is no longer met, Member States shall withdraw the respective authorisation.” Moreover, Member States have to ensure that in the authorization process “relevant medical and psychological information is assessed.” Member States are required to review authorizations for the possession of firearms, at minimum, once every five years. 

Markings and Registration

The legislation imposes significant new requirements for the marking of firearms in order to facilitate an onerous registration scheme.
 

Any firearm or “essential component” – including frames, upper and lower receivers, slides, cylinders, barrels, bolts, and breech blocks– must be “provided with a clear, permanent and unique marking.” The European Commission is tasked with “establishing technical specifications for the marking.” 

Member States are also required to create a comprehensive firearms registration database that the legislation describes as a “data-filing system [that] shall record all information relating to firearms which is needed in order to trace and identify those firearms.”

Moreover, Member States must, 

ensure that the record of firearms and the essential components, including the related personal data, is retained in the data-filing systems by the competent authorities for a period of 30 years after the destruction of the firearms or essential components in question.

In order to populate this registry, Member States are required to make sure “dealers and brokers established in their territory report transactions involving firearms or essential components without undue delay to the national competent authorities,” and that “dealers and brokers have an electronic connection to those authorities for such reporting purposes and that the data-filing systems are updated immediately upon receipt of information concerning such transactions.”

The legislation to change the Firearms Directive was under the jurisdiction of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, chaired by UK MEP Vicky Ford. During debate on the legislation, Ford noted that “This negotiation has been a long and difficult process.” Ford, who has previously been critical of the European Commission’s original draft proposal, also took one last opportunity to denounce the bureaucratic body, stating, “It’s unfortunate that the original proposal came with so many failings from the Commission.”

The Czech Republic has been among the most outspoken opponents of further EU gun controls, and this opposition continued right up to the European Parliament’s vote. During debate, Czech representatives continued to advocate for the rights of their countrymen, with Czech MEPs Dita Charanzova and Jiri Mastalka rising to challenge the efficacy of legislation that would burden gun owners but do little to curb criminal conduct.

Even with the carve-out for their reservists, some Swiss politicians have registered their opposition to the passage of this legislation, pointing out the bill’s magazine restrictions for criticism. The Swiss Shooting Federation issued a strong repudiation of the legislation, pointing out that the country rejected further gun control in a national referendum in 2011. The Swiss are not members of the EU but would be bound to follow the directive as part of their relationship with the transnational bloc.

Still, some of the EU’s most ardent gun controllers didn’t think the new restrictions went far enough. Sweden’s Bodil Valero of the Greens/European Free Alliance contended that the legislation was “a step in the right direction on gun control,” but that, “we would have liked to have been able to secure sharper rules on medical background checks and regulation of large magazines.” Sweden’s Anna Maria Corazza Bildt of the European People’s Party mischaracterized the attack on gun ownership, contending that the parliament had “strengthened security in Europe without restricting the freedom of law-abiding citizens in their spare time.” 

Following the expected European Council’s approval of this legislation, Member States will have 15 months to change their national laws to comply with the updated Firearms Directive. Member States will have 30 months to comply with the directive’s firearms registration database requirements. Given the significant opposition to the amended Firearms Directive’s new restrictions, it should prove interesting to observe how Member States choose to comply with its mandates.

 

IN THIS ARTICLE
European Union Firearms
TRENDING NOW
Supreme Court Gets it Right, Congress Gets it Wrong

Friday, June 24, 2022

Supreme Court Gets it Right, Congress Gets it Wrong

On Thursday, SCOTUS released a historic decision in the NYSRPA v. Bruen case when they found the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding Americans to carry a firearm outside of the home. Despite the hysteria from ...

NRA Wins Supreme Court Case, NYSRPA v. Bruen

News  

Second Amendment  

Thursday, June 23, 2022

NRA Wins Supreme Court Case, NYSRPA v. Bruen

The National Rifle Association (NRA) welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen. The Court affirmed that the right to bear arms does not stop at a person’s front door. This is the most ...

Treachery! White House Moves to Strangle U.S. Ammunition Supply

News  

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Treachery! White House Moves to Strangle U.S. Ammunition Supply

Last night, news broke that the Biden Administration is taking behind-the-scenes steps to further strangle the already constricted market for ammunition in the United States. The move could result in a reduction of the commercial production ...

Gun Control Package Passes U.S. Senate; House Vote Imminent

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Gun Control Package Passes U.S. Senate; House Vote Imminent

On Thursday, the U.S Senate passed a sweeping package of gun control measures. The text of the legislation was only unveiled Tuesday evening. And while much of the 80-page bill did indeed seek to address ...

Senate Gun Control Package Creates De Facto Waiting Periods

News  

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Senate Gun Control Package Creates De Facto Waiting Periods

Most law-abiding Americans over the age of 18 enjoy the right to purchase a firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL or gun dealer) following an instant background check through the FBI’s National Instant Background ...

The So-called “Boyfriend Loophole” is About Undermining the Second Amendment

News  

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The So-called “Boyfriend Loophole” is About Undermining the Second Amendment

At present, federal law generally bars anyone who is convicted in any court for a domestic violence felony, or any felony for that matter, from possessing firearms. But federal law also imposes a lifetime firearm possession prohibition on ...

Delaware: Gun & Mag Bans Going to Gov. Carney

Friday, June 17, 2022

Delaware: Gun & Mag Bans Going to Gov. Carney

Last night, the House passed Senate Bill 6, to ban many standard capacity magazines in common use, sending it to Governor John Carney’s desk. The Senate passed House Bill 450, to ban many commonly-owned firearms, and ...

Federal Judge Rules Against New Jersey and In Favor of Retired Officers In LEOSA Case.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Federal Judge Rules Against New Jersey and In Favor of Retired Officers In LEOSA Case.

Back in 2020, a coalition of retired federal law enforcement officers and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association sued the state of New Jersey for not honoring their carry rights under the Law Enforcement Officer ...

NRA Announces Opposition to Senate Gun Control Legislation

News  

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

NRA Announces Opposition to Senate Gun Control Legislation

This legislation can be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans, and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians.

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

News  

Friday, April 1, 2022

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

Half the country will now enjoy the freedom to carry a handgun for self-defense without a permit from the state thanks to the tireless efforts of men and women of the National Rifle Association. 

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.