Emails sent by and on behalf of Labour MEPs to constituents reveal that the party will not represent the concerns of target shooters to the European Parliament in the fight against the EU gun ban plan.
An email written by one Simon Hall, an “administrator and case worker” for Labour MEPs Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen MEP fails to make a single mention of target shooting – despite constituents repeatedly writing to the Labour politicians to highlight how the EU gun ban unfairly singles out target shooters as a response to the use of already-banned firearms in the Paris mass murders of November.
The Labour email is reproduced in full below.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me concerning the proposal to strengthen the current EU Firearms Directive. The proposal was launched on November 18 and is in line with the declaration by Home Affairs Ministers on 29 August 2015, repeating the call for the revision of the Firearms Directive and for a common approach on the deactivation of firearms.
Labour MEPs have always supported tough firearms laws both at home and abroad and our support will continue as these proposals make their way through the legislative process which is hoped to be concluded swiftly.
On the 7th December the proposal was brought to the Parliament’s lead committee on single market issues, the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO). The Parliament will now start to review and amend the proposal in January 2016, as soon as the MEP who will be responsible for the report from the Parliament’s side, the Rapporteur, is announced.
The key changes to the existing rules in order to improve and toughen the current EU firearms law cover eight keys areas: stricter rules on on-line sales; a ban on certain automatic weapons; the inclusion in the scope of the directive of blank firing weapons which have the potential to be transformed into a firearm; greater restrictions on the use and circulation of deactivated firearms; creation of national registers of deactivated firearms; collectors and brokers will now be brought into the scope of the directive; better traceability of firearms which means an improved marking system and an enhanced information exchange on firearms between Member States.
Under the 2008 Firearms Directive firearms are not required to be on any register once deactivated. Evidence gathered by Commission studies showed this is a serious weakness in the EU legislation in terms of security. In fact, Slovakian media reported in February that the terrorists attacking Charlie Hebdo in January bought their Kalashnikovs legally in Slovakia, where they were sold as decommissioned weapons to be used as film props, but then found an expert in Belgium who was able to reactivate them.
The new proposal will introduce stringent minimum common guidelines regarding the deactivation of firearms and will in turn render reactivation much more difficult. As a consequence, for the most dangerous firearms (category A) stricter rules have been introduced – even if they are deactivated. This now means that deactivated firearms from Category A (fully automatic weapons and military weapons) will not be allowed to be owned or traded by private persons (except for museums). A new provision establishes the requirement for record keeping of deactivated firearms in national registries and any transfer (ie change of owner) of deactivated firearms will now also be registered.
For the sake of clarification, I would like to emphasise that hunters will not be affected by the proposed changes. It is true that collectors and brokers will now fall under the scope of the Directive. Collectors have been identified as a possible source of traffic of firearms by the evaluation carried out by the Commission. Therefore, in the new proposal the collectors will still have the possibility to acquire firearms but this will be subject to authorisation/declaration. Since brokers provide services similar to those of dealers, they will also be covered by this Directive.
On all of these areas of improvement Labour MEPs support reform in order to tackle criminality and terrorism across the EU more effectively. I received several e-mails stating that in any case terrorists do not acquire firearms from legal sources and the new proposal is not the right solution. However, perhaps less striking to the public eye, but not less significant – not least in quantitative terms – are the numbers of people in Europe killed by firearms in the context of gun-related crime or in domestic shootings. It is estimated that between 2000 and 2010, over 10,000 victims of murder or manslaughter were killed by firearms in the 28 EU Member States. Every year, over 4000 suicides by firearm are registered in the EU.
Terrorists aside these numbers are simply not acceptable and are a call for action, and we as Labour MEPs believe the Commission’s proposal takes the right approach. The proposal only sets stringent minimum firearms laws for EU Member States and Member States may enforce stricter firearms laws in their home country should they choose to do so.
If you wound like any more information or have any more questions or comments please do get back in touch.
Administrator & Case Worker
Office of Jude Kirton-Darling MEP and Paul Brannen MEP
Labour Members of the European Parliament for the North East of England
The Labour Party is Britain’s most anti-shooting sports mainstream political group. While it is apparent they are worried about losing votes from hunters – hence the specific, and false, reference to hunters not being affected by the EU’s semi-automatic firearm ban proposal – the voter who wrote to the MEPs said, on the Full Bore UK forum, that he specifically mentioned target shooting several times in his original letter.
The “10,000 murders” claim is misleading, and refers to dubious statistics previously found by a UK Shooting News reader. The EU’s actual firearms murder rate is approximately 1,000 per year across a population of 500 million – and there is no accounting for whether those murders were caused by legal or illegally-owned firearms.
UKSN has seen other emails from Labour MEPs, in closed Facebook groups, which say much the same thing. It suggests the party is co-ordinating its response nationwide to shut out target shooters from the democratic process.
The great danger is that Claude Moraes, the MEP in charge of the EU’s civil liberties committee, is a British Labour party member. It looks likely that hundreds of thousands of peaceful sportsmen will have their wishes run over roughshod by Labour politicians using the deaths of innocents to further their own private agenda.
There is no means of recalling individual MEPs to trigger a by-election or otherwise punish them for failing to represent their constituents’ concerns.