Expert claims proposed gun laws could be a security threat

15-Mar-2016 @ 18:30

No items found. No items found. No items found.

Proposals to clamp down on semi-automatic weapons in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks could in fact increase the security threat, MEPs have been told.

At a hearing organised by Conservative MEP Vicky Ford in the European Parliament, Dr Edward Impey, Director General of the Royal Armouries, claimed draft plans by the European Commission to force museums to deactivate so-called Category A weapons in their collections could hamper law enforcement.

He said: "Deactivation would destroy a potentially vital source of comparative material which may, as it has been in the past, be of forensic use to scientists and national security officers. This is certainly the case in the UK where the Royal Armouries is a national resource in the fight against crime and terrorism.

"Our collections, and those of the imperial War Museum, have been used in investigations related to Northern Ireland, the Bosnian War Crimes Tribunal and many criminal investigations. The loss of this capacity would increase the security threat to the citizens of the EU posed by weapons of this sort."

Dr Impey was representing European museums and collectors at the hearing into the revision of the EU Firearms Directive. The changes aim to close loopholes in the existing law but there are concerns about inadequate drafting and unintended consequences.

Sporting organisations and groups such as the Countryside Alliance have raised objections and there are also questions over how the proposals, as currently drafted, might affect military reservists in some countries, paint balling, historic re-enactments and the use of guns in films and television productions.

East of England MEP Mrs Ford has been nominated by MEPs to lead negotiations and find a compromise. She has already met police and a range of interest groups and will produce a report on the Commission's proposals next month, which will then be debated by MEPs.

She said: "There has been unprecedented interest in this issue and I am grateful for the constructive input I have received. This latest hearing has been a valuable opportunity to better understand these sometimes highly technical issues from experts.

"We have to strike the right balance between stopping semi-automatic weapons falling into the hands of criminals and terrorists while at the same time safeguarding legitimate interests."

Dr Impey was joined at the hearing by an Italian expert representing gun manufacturers, a Belgian representative of Proof Houses, a French member of the European Firearms Committee and witnesses representing sports shooting.

« Back