The European Union (E.U.) recently took drastic measures to further restrict gun ownership throughout its 28 member states.
E.U. interior ministers decided on June 10th to tighten current gun control laws in place—a move viewed negatively by several member states. If ratified by the European Parliament, this proposal will include an EU-wide regime on deactivated firearms—a move slated to harm collectors and hunters. They argue this proposal will make it easier to track illegal guns and discourage people from purchasing semi-automatic firearms, citing their use in the two terror attacks. However, several member states have serious doubts about proposed rule changes.
The E.U. already forbids most fully automatic firearms, along with several popular semi-automatic firearms enjoyed by many here in the United States. How will imposing greater restrictions on semi-automatic firearms make Europe safer if current gun control laws in place have failed to deter terrorists in Paris and Brussels?
Not all E.U. member states plan to comply with this directive.
Members states like Czech Republic and Poland have taken issue with this directive. Finland and Switzerland have also expressed doubts in the proposed legislation. Unlike other member states comprising the E.U., these countries have more liberalized, pro-gun laws. Moreover, these countries have less overall crime in their respective societies thanks to the presence of pro-gun laws in spite of current E.U.-wide restrictions.
Here were proposed gun control measures the E.U. had deliberated earlier this year in wake of the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks, according to CNN:
1. More categories of semi-automatic weapons will be subject to an outright ban. The new ban will apply to “B7” weapons, or “semi-automatic firearms for civilian use which resemble weapons with automatic mechanisms.” EU countries will still be able to issue licenses for some semi-automatic rifles for hunting, collecting and museums.
2. Deactivated weapons are currently treated as pieces of metal that can be traded freely across European borders. That will no longer be possible. “Under no circumstances will civilians be authorized to own any of the most dangerous firearms (e.g. a Kalashnikov), which is currently possible if they have been deactivated,” the proposal states.
3. Gun brokers and dealers will have to be licensed to deal in weapons. Collectors will have to get a license and face background checks even if they only own deactivated weapons. There will also be new limits on the ability to buy gun parts and ammunition online.
4. Tracing guns should become easier thanks to enhanced rules on how guns must be marked and registered. And blank firing weapons will be regulated for the first time because they can be converted to fire live ammunition.
Other E.U. member states have also expressed interest in extending firearms privileges and rights to members of the military—a move expected to be challenged by the E.U.
The Baltic Republic of Lithuania, which was the first country to declare its independence from the Soviet Union, is looking to allow its military volunteers to private own semi-automatic firearms at home. Both Lithuania’s parliament, Seimas, and military personnel have expressed their desire to allow military volunteers to privately own semi-automatic firearms—especially in wake of Russia trying to reassert itself in the Eastern Bloc.
Looking to the United States as an example, the European Union should permit greater gun rights—not fewer gun rights. Why should Brussels dictate gun rights for 28 vastly different countries? Individual member states should be able to allow gun rights in their respective countries based on need, not based on Brussels’ desires for disarmament.
As opposition to banning AR-15 semi-automatic rifles is mounting here in the U.S. following the Orlando terrorist attack, opposition to further gun control measures should equally be met in the European Union. It’ll be interesting to see if Thursday’s Brexit vote will propel more E.U. member states to reconsider their membership–especially if the E.U. decides to further encroach on limited gun rights that remain in the region.