Shooters hoping for help from the Conservative Party’s MEPs are doomed to disappointment, it appears, after messages to voters revealed that Tories plan to back the upcoming EU gun ban plan.
An email from the office of Richard Ashworth MEP, seen by UK Shooting News, said: “The proposals concerning firearms have been foreseen since the European Security Agenda which was adopted in April 2015, but have been accelerated as a result of the tragic attacks in Paris. In light of the threats posed by terrorism it is necessary for Europe to work closely together in matters of national-security and counter-terrorism.”
It continued: “The use of firearms by criminal and terrorist organisations poses a great security threat to citizens, as we have witnessed on several occasions this year. These tragic events call for a stronger, coordinated European approach to control the use of weapons and fight against trafficking of firearms, as well as to combat crime and terrorism.
“The Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, reiterated these concerns and support for a more coordinated approach in a statement to the House of Commons following the attacks in Paris. On Friday 20th November, Mrs May attended an extraordinary meeting of the European Justice and Home Affairs Council, where she pressed for the need of greater information-sharing, passenger name records, and action on firearms.”
Conservatives in the European Parliament agree on the need for a new [Firearms] Directive.
Ashworth’s email did mention some concerns about the proposed semi-auto ban, but visibly stopped short of promising opposition.
“There does need to be wider consideration of some of the proposals, such as the de facto ban firearms which are now included in the category B7,” Ashworth’s staffer wrote on his behalf.
“Semi-automatic rifles that “resemble” military weapons are widely used in some of the most popular forms of shooting sports, hunting and especially practical shooting (IPSC) and its derivatives,” continued the staffer. “In some member states, they are widely owned and used for active reservists. Thus, a very large number of such weapons are currently owned by civilians in the EU. Conservatives in the European Parliament believe it is important to be careful that the EU does not ban the use of all firearms for sporting and reservist activities, and indirectly affect the national defence doctrines in some Member States.”
The EU gun ban, as worded, will only ban semi-auto firearms that “look military”, providing a fig leaf for MEPs to claim they are not harming the peaceful shooting sports. It appears likely that Tory MEPs will be instructed to use this blush-sparing getout clause when they vote to endorse the EU’s plan.
With Labour MEPs unequivocally supporting the ban, it appears that only UKIP are seriously considering proper opposition to it.