Security Council rebuffs Brussels’ stricter gun control plans

Photo: Czech Television

The National Security Council has rejected plans by the European Commission to introduce tougher gun control laws, following the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. The commission wants to make it considerably more difficult for individuals to hold certain firearms, among them some semi-automatic weapons. Czech officials are against the proposal, saying that Czech gun laws are already among the toughest.

Photo: Czech Television
Plans by the European Commission to toughen gun laws in the EU following deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels have not found support in the Czech Republic. The proposal, in its current form, was rejected on Tuesday by the National Security Council and will be debated in both chambers of Parliament with the view to sending Brussels a message that Czech gun control laws currently go far enough. In the view of Czech officials, the proposed changes would do little to limit real threats but paradoxically come down hardest on those who respect existing legislation: regular owners, sport shooters, and gun collectors. Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec spoke to Czech TV:

“When you look at the situation around Europe, when you look at the terrorist attacks, they were conducted with illegally-held weapons. In the Czech Republic we already have very tough laws and we do not want to limit gun-holders who respect the law. Czech gun legislation is among the best in the EU and we don’t think there is any reason to change it… The number of crimes committed in the Czech Republic with legally-held firearms is minimal.”

The original European Commission plans proposed to ban semi-automatic weapons resembling automatic firearms; in an open letter, David Karásek of the Czech Gun Rights Protection Association, slammed some of the proposed restrictions, such as a ban on self-loading firearms which resembled automatic weapons, including historic rifles which had been deactivated. That, he wrote, would effectively outlaw private collections. Mr Karásek also pointed out the financial burden to confiscate and compensate weapons which would newly come under the ban. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec took a similar line, making clear there were numerous reasons the country would fight for a number of the restrictions to be struck from the proposal.

Milan Chovanec,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“We are talking to our partners, both in the Visegrad 4 and otherwise, about certain restrictions being scratched. [If they were to go through] in the Czech Republic, we would see financial costs in the seizure and compensation of weapons. In my opinion, at a time when the world is becoming less safe, it is illogical to disarm those who abide by the law.”

The proposed revision of the Firearms Directive will have to be approved by the European Parliament and Council before adoption. Originally, the EC aimed for the firearms amendment to come into effect by July of this year.