Overview of EC proposals to amend firearms directive

On 18 November 2015 the European Commission published a proposal to amend the 1991 Firearms Directive (91/477/EEC) which was last revised in 2008 (2008/51/EC). Although this came in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, the roots of the EC proposal lie in the process initiated three years earlier by former EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström who announced the following goals during a high level conference on the illicit trafficking of arms held on 19 November:

  • the identification of certain types of civilian firearms that should be included in Category A and banned;
  • further controls on legal firearms owners.

It was evident, even in these early stages, that the Commission had set an agenda to attack legal firearm owners and users. The terrorist attacks simply provided it with the emotional vehicle it required to publish and pursue a broad list of prohibitionist measures which were tabled less than a week after the Paris attacks.

The Commission proposal calls for the confiscation and destruction of personal property, the banning of legal firearms that are used in several sport shooting disciplines and the introduction of measures that would have a profound impact on legitimate trade and industry.

However, the most outrageous measures are those relating to museums and collectors:

  • museums would have to deactivate and hence, irreversibly damage priceless collections of historic and important category A firearms and their collections would be frozen, i.e. they would not be able to acquire any new artefacts;
  • collectors would have their category A firearms, including semi-automatic firearms reclassified under this category, confiscated and destroyed, even if they were to be deactivated.

Such action would be tantamount to the wanton destruction, on an unprecedented scale, of a vast amount of cultural and historical heritage. The callousness of the Commission’s objectives was only surpassed by the method it employed in attempting to reach them in the case of collectors. The Commission created a pretext for their action by stating that “Collectors have been identified as a possible source of traffic of firearms by the evaluation carried out.”  However the Commission failed to produce hard evidence, even when called upon to do so by FESAC.

Our Foundation has joined other stakeholder’s representatives in order to oppose the Commission’s proposal in every EU institution and committee where it is being discussed.

We have been actively engaged in this process since November 2015, exchanging correspondence with MEPs and Member State delegations as well as attending meetings in Brussels.

FESAC has also submitted a complaint to the EU Ombudsman in respect of the Commission’s failure to either substantiate its allegation against recognised collectors or else withdraw it.

Copies of the relevant documents and correspondence (in chronological order) may be found in the Publications section.

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