EDITORIAL: the European Parliament fixed the flawed proposal of the European Commission about the Firearms Directive
“A vote in the IMCO Committee of the European Parliament just confirmed that the legal users of firearms should not suffer constraints in the practice of hunting and sport shooting. Since the wave of terrorist attacks starting with the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January 2015 the European Commission and the European Council initiated a campaign in name of the fight against terrorism and organized crime, but aimed at the wrong target by proposing measures that only impacted hunters and sport shooters” - Filippo Segato, FACE Secretary General
On July 13, 2016 the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) of the European Parliament voted on the revision of the EU Directive on the control of the acquisition and possession of firearms. MEPs have deeply changed the text originally proposed by the European Commission which angered hunters and sport shooters throughout Europe. Instead of tackling the fight against terrorism and armed crime, the Commission had introduced very restrictive and unjustified measures against legal users of firearms, with no consequence on the fight against terrorism and radicalisation.
FACE and its member organisations have mobilized for months to voice the arguments of legal users and preserve the already strict European framework that guarantees the adequate control of firearms.
Immediately after the Commission tabled its proposal FACE set up a crisis team composed of experts from all EU Member States to develop a common strategy, and raise the awareness of policy makers with appropriate arguments. It was important that MEPs recognized throughout the process that legal holders of firearms such as hunters have no involvement in acts of terrorism and organized crime. FACE also clarified many technical weaknesses considerably improving the text.
Our joint efforts resulted in compromises on many issues of concern to hunters and sport shooters.
One of the most important results was the safeguarding of category B7 semiautomatic rifles and clear rules concerning the conversion of firearms. Subsidiarity will apply as regards medical examinations, online sales and storage of firearms with balanced regulations that give leeway to the Member States. The European Commission’s initial restrictions are no longer present in the text adopted by European Parliament. Exemptions are provided for shooters to use magazines under certain conditions as part of their sport.
At this stage of negotiations, the only real negative point is the classification of certain semi-automatic firearms in category A in combination with detachable magazines of over 20 rounds or a length of less than 60cm. This sensitive issue, together with other imperfections still present in the text, have to be given special attention in the next phase of the negotiation before the plenary vote in the European Parliament.
In September Commission, Parliament and Council will begin negotiations in the so-called trilogue in view of reaching an agreement. FACE will continue its activity with all three institutions to assert the legitimate interests of hunters while questioning the validity of the proposals of the European Commission.
At this stage, the European Parliament has a clear mandate to negotiate with the European Commission and the European Council in the trilogue in order to obtain a text that will be voted in the plenary of the European Parliament in November.
FACE will continue its engagement with the European Parliament coordinating its members in all European Countries in order to achieve a revision of the Directive which respects the rights of legal users and focuses on the fight against crime and terrorism.
In the coming months vigilance and mobilization will still be required because nothing is definitively acquired before the vote in November 2016 at the European Parliament.
FACE Secretary General