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Czech critics: Illegal firearms will mushroom due to EU directive

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Prague, Oct 5 (CTK) – The EU firearm directive will cause a rise in the number of illegally possessed firearms, its critics said at a public hearing in the Czech Senate on Thursday, while the supporters said executive laws can be passed to maximally soften the directive’s impact on legal arms owners.

The hearing was held based on a petition against Europe’s directive toughening the arms possession conditions.

Jiri Dienstbier (Social Democrats, CSSD), former human rights minister, said he doubts that Prague’s legal action against the directive at the European Court of Justice might succeed.

“I am very sceptical about the possibility of the Czech Republic succeeding in this court dispute,” Dienstbier said, referring to the lawsuit that has been completed by the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, and demands the abolition of the directive.

He said the EU institutions will most probably manage to defend the EU’s need of a “minimum common regulation.”

In case the Czech lawsuit is dismissed by the Luxembourg-seated court, the Interior Ministry is preparing bills to make the EU directive’s impact only administrative.

Apart from a new bill on firerms, the ministry’s experts also plan to draft a bill on the use of arms for defence and security purposes.

The above petition demands the preservation of EU member countries’ right to define the arms possession rules each on its own.

“We are one of the world’s safest countries and we want this to continue,” Pavel Cerny said on behalf of the petitioners.

He said the implementation of the directive that bans selected types of weapons and makes the registration of others obligatory would result in an increase in the number of illegally possessed arms.

Cerny supported the ministry-proposed passage of a constitutional bill enhancing the rights of legal arms owners and enabling them to use the arms in case of danger.

This idea was also backed by Petr Dvorak, a representative of the Agriculture Ministry, with regard to hunters.

However, critics said such a law would have only symbolic meaning. Constitutional lawyer Jan Wintr even called it “nonsensical, unnecessary and potentially dangerous.”

EU members are expected to translate the directive in their legal orders by next September. In the Czech Republic, the changes would affect all 300,000 arms licence holders and also those possessing degraded weapons that have not been subject to registration so far.

The directive would also bind the owners of historical weapons to have them registered.

Certain types of semiautomatic weapons are to be completely banned.

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