Prague, Jan 15 (CTK) – The Czech Interior Ministry’s proposal for strengthening the rights to use legally possessed arms to ensure the country’s security is absurd and weird, Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) said in the Questions of Vaclav Moravec TV discussion programme on Sunday.

He said he hoped that the government would not approve this draft constitutional bill.

“I felt like being at the Wild West in the 19th century,” Pelikan said, describing his first reaction to the draft.

Only a state whose security measures fail would take such a step, he added.

In reaction to Pelikan’s criticism, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) said he prefers a self-confident state that trusts its citizens.

Chovanec wants to push through this legislation by the end of the government’s mandate. The next general election is due in October.

Chovanec wants the bill to enable the legal firearms owners to defend themselves against terrorists during attacks similar to those by lorries in Nice and Berlin last year.

The ministry points out that the possibilities of state bodies to quickly and efficiently prevent casualties and other damage are limited during such attacks. This is why it wants to enable the owners of legally possessed firearms to intervene against terrorists.

Pelikan connected the draft with the European Commission’s (EC) plan to restrict legal arms possession. Czech politicians and experts have criticised the directive.

Pelikan, lawyer by profession, pointed out a number of tragedies that would not have occurred if the protagonists in a dispute had not had firearms.

“Unlike Pelikan, I do not think that a legally possessed firearm should stay in a showcase and that a citizen should only watch it sadly in the case of a threat,” Chovanec said.

The police must remain the first security resort, but there is no reason why to prevent vetted and trained people from getting involved in emergency situations, he said.

“By the way, this right exists now. I only propose that it be strengthened and clearly declared,” he added.

Legal possession of firearms is regulated by the law on arms and ammunition in the Czech Republic. Firearm licence holders can shoot from a legally possessed firearms only in places where they are authorised to do so according to a special legal regulation or at a shooting range unless the firearm is used to protect life, health or property.

As of December 1, 2016, there were 300,115 holders of firearm licences in the Czech Republic with a population of 10.5 million, almost 241,000 of whom held the group E licence for the protection of lives, health and property.

A total of 798,424 weapons of all categories were registered, including 357,338 semiautomatic pistols, guns and revolvers.