On Tuesday, the European Council met in Luxembourg and adopted wide-ranging restrictive revisions to the EU Firearms Directive. The move comes after negotiations between the European Parliament and Council led to a heavily-revised version of the European Commission’s initial gun control proposal, which was announced in December and passed by the European Parliament in March.
NRA detailed the new gun control measures contained in within the latest revision to the EU Firearms Directive when the European Parliament passed the legislation last month. Among the most onerous provisions of the legislation are new restrictions on the availability of certain configurations of semi-automatic firearms and their magazines, and a significant expansion of firearms registration and licensing requirements.
In a press release announcing that the European Council had adopted the revisions, the bureaucrats in Brussels stuck to their misguided contention that further burdening the law-abiding would help to thwart violent criminals and terrorists. Maltese Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Carmelo Abela was quoted as saying, “The new Firearms Directive provides for more rigorous controls on the acquisition and possession of firearms, in particular so that legitimate channels and regulatory set-ups for the acquisition and possession of firearms are not abused by criminal groups or terrorists.”
A pre-existing effort to alter the EU Firearms Directive was expedited by the European Commission following the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015. At the time, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker cited the attack, and the broader threat of terrorism, as a justification for the new gun controls. However, the most recent high-profile attack in France suggests that further gun control will do little to stop criminals from acquiring firearms to carry out the type of violence the EU hopes to prevent.
On April 20, 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi used a rifle to shoot and kill a French police officer on Paris’s famed Champs Elysées. In addition to the rifle used in the attack, a pump-action shotgun was found in a search of Cheurfi’s vehicle. Cheurfi had a lengthy criminal history, and according to France 24, “spent 14 years in prison on three counts of attempted murder, including of police officers.”
Existing EU law makes clear that Member States are not to permit the acquisition and possession of firearms by those “convicted of a violent intentional crime.” Despite this, Cheurfi was still able to access the firearms used in the attack.
Under the European Union’s convoluted legislative procedure, following this action by the European Council, the European Parliament and Council must formally sign the changes to the EU Firearms Directive. Member States will then have 15 months to update their national laws to conform to these changes and 30 months to implement the legislation’s registration database requirements.