The European Parliament has approved the revisions to the EU Firearms Directive 1991, a process that began back in November 2015, just days after the Paris terrorist atrocities. The Firearms Directive sets out the conditions under which citizens of EU member states may lawfully acquire and possess firearms and this revision is aimed at closing certain loopholes in an attempt to reduce the risk of terrorism and illegal trafficking.
Throughout the process the Countryside Alliance has briefed numerous MEPs, as well as the Home Office, and has worked alongside the European Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation (FACE) and the British Shooting Sports Council (BSSC) to ensure our members and the European shooting community were fairly treated.
The lack of any impact assessment led the European Commission originally to a disastrous set of proposals. However, through continual dialogue and lobbying, the most damaging of these have been dropped thanks to amendments in the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee chaired by Vicky Ford, Conservative MEP for the East of England.
Liam Stokes, Head of Shooting at the Countryside Alliance, said: “The approved text is a satisfactory result for the UK shooting community. Our already strict licensing procedures and legislation mean the changes will be minimal. The threat to young shooters has been seen off, while sensible provisions have been put in place to protect important museum collections. As shooting traditions and sports vary considerably throughout Europe, matters such as medical checks and secure storage of guns have been left for Member States to decide. The focus now turns towards the implementation of the revisions into our own legislation.
“We hope that sensible implementation of the amendments will play a role in reducing illegal trafficking and the threat of terrorism without unduly affecting the legal shooting community. The Countryside Alliance welcomes these improvements, and we appreciate the efforts of rapporteur Vicky Ford MEP for meeting with us on numerous occasions and listening to our concerns throughout the process.”
Vicky Ford MEP, said: “It has been a long and difficult process to reach a compromise which protects the public by making it more difficult for terrorists and criminals to get hold of higher capacity firearms while also safeguarding the interests of lawful sports shooters, collectors, re-enactors and other groups.
“It was not helped by the European Commission’s original proposals which were very poorly drafted, contained many technical errors and would have had many disproportionate restrictions on legal owners. However, I believe we have now achieved a sensible balance.”