Conservative MEP urges action to save Battle of the Somme re-enactment

13-May-2016 @ 11:00

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Conservative MEP Vicky Ford is going into battle on behalf of British enthusiasts who fear being stripped of their trusty Lee Enfield rifles at a major re-enactment of the Battle of the Somme.

Mrs Ford, who is currently leading the European Parliament's response to a proposed new EU Firearms Directive, has written to senior politicians and officials including British Home Secretary Theresa May, EU Internal Market Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, urging them to find a solution.

The threat comes from new rules imposed after the Paris terrorist attacks. The EU Deactivation Regulation came into force on April 7 and introduces processes that must be followed across the EU for a weapon to be certified as permanently inoperable.

Members of The Great War Society are concerned their rifles, although deactivated to UK standards, will not be allowed into another EU country because they do not comply with the new rules. If the group attempts to take them across the channel for the July 1 commemoration it is possible the weapons could be confiscated at the French border.

Eastern England MEP Mrs Ford, the Conservative Internal Market spokesman, said: "Amateur enthusiasts from the UK are due to join others from across Europe to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle. Given our shared history, I believe it is important that it goes ahead.

"However, there is confusion how firearms that are already permanently deactivated to existing Member State standards are to be treated under the new Regulation, as it is not possible to deactivate firearms a second time.

"Of course it is important we have high deactivation standards across the EU, especially as poorly deactivated weapons were brought back into use and used by the Paris terrorists. But the weapons carried by the re-enactors are by no means comparable, having been permanently deactivated and registered with the national authorities.

"I hope that by drawing attention to this issue I can help secure a speedy solution that allows July's re-enactment to take place."

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