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Plan to involve Czechs more in ensuring security is opposed

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Prague, Jan 3 (CTK) – The Czech Interior Ministry’s proposal that the people who legally possess weapons become more involved in ensuring security in the country has met with mostly negative reactions of lawmakers whom CTK surveyed yesterday.
The ministry, controlled by the Social Democrats (CSSD), wants to push the plan through in the form of an amendment to the state security constitutional law.
However, politicians, including those from the CSSD and the other two government parties, oppose it.
“Although it seems logical in the present period of increasing security risks, I do not think that citizens should make up for the role of the police,” Senate chairman Milan Stech (CSSD) told CTK.
“I am afraid that legal weapon owners, who have not undergone police training, cannot always correctly assess and quickly evaluate the situation,” Stech said.
Jiri Dienstbier, former human rights minister, said the state’s task is to guarantee safety.
“Armaming people with the aim to make them guarantee safety instead of the state is not a goal but a failure of social democrat policy,” Dienstbier said.
Senator and former interior minister Frantisek Bublan (CSSD) said the planned constitutional amendment need not be controversial, but a problem could be posed by the related law on arms, which would have to toughen the conditions of arms possession and use, and introduce a compulsory regular training and psychological tests for arms holders.
Bublan’s view is shared by Miroslav Antl (CSSD), head of the Senate constitutional and legal committee, who said he fears a possible misuse or an incorrect evaluation of the situations where the owners should use their weapons.
Former Justice Minister Helena Valkova (ANO) said it would be uneasy to push the change through in the last year before the autumn 2017 general election.
“Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out, in view of the current situation in Europe,” Valkova said.
Ivan Gabal (junior government Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL), who heads the lower house defence committee, said he would decide on whether to support the draft amendment only based on experts’ assessment of the impact it might have on security in the Czech Republic.
However, he said he does not consider it suitable to amend a constitutional law only due to the recent terrorist attacks.
“In this respect, the proposal is overhasty, immature and rather hysterical,” Gabal said.
Lawyer Vaclav Laska, a senator for the Green Party, said he considers the ministry’s plan a step aimed counter to a directive the EU plans to introduce to restrict the legal possession of weapons.
“It is rather dubious to transfer the right to defend the integrity, sovereignty and democratic foundations of the Czech Republic to the armed public,” Laska said.
Constitutional lawyer Jan Kysela said a constitutional amendment is unnecessary as the given goal can be achieved within the framework of current laws.
“It seems to me a rather unfortunate political gesture,” Kysela told Czech Television, adding that the Czech Republic should not embark on the path of people taking justice in their own hands.

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