The EU parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection today discussed the EU commission’s gun ban plans. UK Shooting News wrote up what MEPs were saying as it happened.
It also appears that the EU parliament’s civil liberties committee will be scrutinising the draft. This is chaired by a British Labour MEP, Claude Moraes. Britain’s Labour Party has indicated it will vote for the EU gun ban in its original form and Labour MEP Catherine Stihler spoke strongly in favour of the blanket ban on semi-auto firearms.
A German rep – whose name UKSN did not catch – says she broadly agrees with the EU gun ban plan.
“It’s not about the illegal weapons trade … but in your 4th point you did talk about illegal weapons. That might not be the exact reason for it but what about a definition of who may purchase [firearms] over the internet legally? The impression I was left with was only dealers, not private individuals, would be able to do this.”
A British male representative, whose name again escaped UKSN, said: “We absolutely need strong firearms controls across Europe… but our problem is illegal firearms. We can’t trace them. First of all, with regard to the ban on deactivated weapons. There are 100s of 1000s of them. If you ban them, won’t you drive them all underground overnight? Deactivated weapons, by definition, can’t be used. Do you have any figures on crimes used by deactivated weapons? What is the situation for museums?”
The UK rep continued: “Will the ban have any effect? Isn’t it better to have legal outlets for people to buy firearms if they have the right licences?”
Dieta Charanshova (?) from Czech republic: “I am convinced that the trade in weapons [sic] must be subject to control and better evidence.” She is broadly pro ban but mentions that liberties should not be infringed.
French rep Taravella. “I think our objective today should be trying to crack down on illegal weapons and semi-automatic weapons, making sure they are not easily converted into automatic weapons. We are going to get something that the civil liberties committee will look at.”
He added: “We don’t want hunters and sport shooters to be victims.”
E Van Bosseyt (?) whose name placard was obscured by an EU cameraman throughout her speech, said: “Those who hold hunting rifles should not be affected. Is the commission not worried that sports clubs using this kind of weapon [sic] will see their activities truncated? Does the EU commission understand those who use weapons lawfully and legitimately?”
M Ulvskog said: “We must have laws to stop illegal trade but we must draw the line to stop us from making it impossible to stop hunters and sport shooters to pursue their legal activities. Can I repeat to the commission, do you plan to ban semi-automatic firearms?” She also spoke about the 5 year licence plan, saying: “What is the meaning of this extra bureaucracy every 5th year? Take actions to fight terrorism [but] don’t make ordinary people mad and not law obeying [sic].”
O Sehnalova said: “This proposal brings things important for enhanced security. We should endorse better information exchange and traceability of weapons. I have received a lot of emails also… sent by legal owners from the Czech Republic. We should take into account fact that each member state has different types of legislation. Why don’t we look at countries with high quality legislation that works? And countries with no problems with illegal arms? We should focus on combating illegal arms.”
She added: “This proposal will not tackle owners of illegal firearms. Why should we aim at legal owners? Does the Commission have any statistics for the crime committed by legal versus illegal firearms? And is this new legislation compatible with legislation in member states? What country, in your opinion, is a good example to follow?”
Obermayr from Austria: “The commission told us they are not talking about the illegal trade so what are they talking about? We are talking about deactivaed firearms being reactivated. That’s not legal anyway. Weapons of war from the intenret, that’s illegal anyway and that’s why this is confusing. All well intentioned proposals should not result in us reinventing the wheel or throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”
“I’m worried about red tape” he said. “What do [the flare gun ban proposals] mean for sailing vessels? You don’t want to catch the wrong people. You’re not targeting hunters or sports marksman but you need to make that clear. In parts of Europe you can buy weapons of war for 1,500 Euros. Why didn’t you talk to partners representing hundreds of thousands affected by this?”
J Halla-Aho said: “This would affect negatively a large number of European citizens and businesses. I refer to the proposal to ban certain semi-automatic weapons based on their looks. How do you decide [between them]? These are the kind of weapons used by tens of thousands of sport shooters and also reservists. They are seldom used in crime and never in terrorist crimes. Further, semi automatic rifles that resemble AK 47s or M16s are specifically designed not to be convertible to full auto.”
He added: “There is much good in the proposal… common markings, sharing of information. The rights and freedoms of law abiding citizens should not be infringed more than necessary. [We should avoid] kneejerk reactions. These will not increase the credibility of the EU commission.”
A Szejnfeld: “We need to regulate such firearms but this regulation must be cautious and rational. Otherwise it will be counterproductive. We have some negative events and then we react by coming up with regulations but very often such regulations will not have any real effect… In the legal market we know the place of storage, of manufacture, etc. In the illegal market we cannot answer these questions. I would be cautious as to the scope of these regulations.”
Catherine Stihler, a Labour MEP from Scotland: “This debate replicates the gaps in our previous debate of 2008.” She talked at speed about the 2008 EU diktat on firearms licensing database, asking how many member states had implemented a national registry of firearms. “How many hunters use Kalashnikovs in the EU? That’s very important.” She also demanded blank firers be banned along with semi-autos, urging MEPs to talk to local police forces to find more evidence to support the ban.
R Metsola: “We need definitive rules but have logical aims. We should try to avoid misinterpreting the rules. We don’t want our citizens to think [we are targeting them] instead of criminals. We know how easy it is for criminals to get their hands on weapons that are not traceable. They can easily use them in criminal acts. We should also be wary of how it will affect sports, self-defence and how it will affect military and museums. I have received several complaints and emails on how this proposal will work and how it will affect people who are using these weapons as part of their hobbies or their collections. I would ask the commission, have they spoken to representatives of those affected by this proposal?”
A female MEP asked: “We have this principle that legislation should be based on evidence. We had a 1 year study into [firearms ownership] and it found no problems. I ask the commission to clarify, on whose recommendation is the proposal based?”
V Ford, the committee’s British chairman, responded: “In 2008 they wrote that the deactivation standards should be made irreversible. I suspect my colleagues will want to be more clear … that their intention was not to ban semi-automatic [firearms] but that was not clear for me reading it in my native tongue. The word resemble to me is a very subjective word. I wonder if a lot of the concerns here could be improved by looking closely at what your intentions were and looking at your crafting of language.”
Ford also suggested the EU may set up further discussions at EU level on the issue.
A French EU commission mouthpiece claimed thousands of EU people were killed with legal firearms and further claimed that the Paris murders were carried out with legal firearms. He denied the evidence “was something we had invented” and admitted that the timing “had been accelerated”. “For hunters, nothing will change” he insisted, repeating that the wording would not change. Category C firearms would remain unaffected. Category B firearms, however, would only be partly affected and he insisted sport shooters would therefore be unaffected. “What we prohibit is semi automatic weapons that resemble an automatic weapon [sic].”
Semi-auto Kalashnikovs are used for killing, he said. “Maybe if you tell me that sport shooters are using these, we have a problem, a disagreement. Do we want to accept that hunters, sport shooters use this kind of weapon?”