Thursday, 21 September 2017

EU firearms directive is inappropriate, Czech minister says

ČTK |
8 June 2017

Prague, June 7 (CTK) - The Czech Republic plans to challenge the European firearms directive since it introduces inadequate and inconvenient measures for Czech firearms holders, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told CTK today, adding that it violates the principles of proportionality and of ban on discrimination.

The Czech government will decide on the possible challenging of the firearms directive at the European Court of Justice next week.

Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) said Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) had reservations about the challenging of the directive. "If the government does not approve the step, the complaint will not be filed, but I believe that there is no other way than to challenge the directive," Chovanec said.

He said he believed that the CSSD's government partners, the ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), would support the plan.

The EU firearms directive, which the European Parliament passed in March, aims to prevent the armament of terrorists. Its critics say the directive mainly imposes restrictions on holders of legal arms and the legal arms trading and considerably interferes in the interior security of countries, which is in conflict with EU legislation.

Chovanec said he considers the idea of limiting legal firearms in reaction to the wave of terrorist violence erroneous. The argument of fighting terrorism seems to be a mere pretext, he added.

"I think it was an effort to show a quick political reaction to these attacks, but Europe is unfortunately moving in a bad direction," Chovanec said.

The directive will take effect as of June 13 and the member states must incorporate it in their legislations in 15 months.

Chovanec said the Czech Republic would have to adopt the directive in its legislation, if the Luxembourg court did not decide on its complaint by September 2018.

"In my opinion, the directive should not be implemented even if it meant that Europe will sanction the country. However, it is the government that must make the decision," he said.

Chovanec said it was difficult to anticipate how the EU would react to a possible Czech refusal to implement the directive. He said several countries did not implement certain directives in their legislations and the EU institutions dealt with the individual cases in different ways.

The deadline for challenging the firearms directive is August 17.

In the Czech Republic, the directive would concern almost all of the roughly 300,000 holders of gun licences as well as the holders of defunct rifles and magazines.

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