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Prague to bring lawsuit against EU firearms directive

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Prague, June 14 (CTK) – The Czech Republic will file a lawsuit against the EU directive restricting firearms possession with the European Court of Justice by mid-August, the government decided on Wednesday, supporting the proposal by Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, he has tweeted.

Prague will demand that the directive become invalid since it introduces disproportionate and inconvenient measures for arms holders, he said.

The lawsuit will argue that the directive violates the principles of proportionality and the ban on discrimination.

“Bringing a lawsuit solves nothing, but we have no other possibility… We cannot allow that the EU would disproportionately infringe on the position of the member states and their citizens under the pretext of fight with terrorism,” Chovanec said in a press release.

The European Parliament (EP) passed the directive tightening control of firearms in mid-March. Its aim is to prevent terrorists from gaining arms easily.

However, its critics point out that it primarily restricts the market with legally possessed arms and strongly infringes on the country’s internal affairs, which is at variance with EU law.

The vote on the lawsuit was not unambiguous in the government, not even within particular coalition parties.

Deputy PM Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) told the press conference that the KDU-CSL ministers had not voted in the same way. He asked Chovanec whether the adoption of the directive could not be blocked.

Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) said two ministers for ANO had voted for the lawsuit, two against it and two abstained from the vote, including him.

He said he minded deciding on this at the same time when the European Commission (EC) opened legal cases against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for refusing to take in asylum seekers from Italy and Greece within the quota plan.

Chovanec told CTK last week that the idea of drafting this directive in reaction to the terrorism wave was nonsensical and that he considered this argument a mere pretext.

The directive provoked a wave of protests in the Czech Republic.

The stricter conditions would afflict some 300,000 holders of firearm licences in the country as well as the owners of weapons modified for blank cartridges, such as those used for theatre or film purposes, that are not registered now.

The directive took effect on June 13 and the EU member states must transpose it into their legal orders within 15 months.

The Czech Republic will demand that the directive’s effect be postponed, but the filing of a suit has no retroactive effect. Consequently, the Czech Republic should implement it even if the court does not decide on the lawsuit by then, Chovanec added.

However, Chovanec said he was opposed to the implementation of the directive even if it meant EU sanctions.

Hunter and gamekeeper Bohumil Straka, opponent to this directive, came to the Government Office on Wednesday to support Chovanec. Straka said he thought the lawsuit had a high chance to succeed.

He wants to send a letter with a bottle of cognac shaped as a Kalashnikov assault rifle to EC President Jean-Claude Juncker.

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