Experts meet to discuss new controls on semi-automatic weapons

26-Jan-2016 @ 10:45

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Senior police officers, an Imperial War Museum expert and members of the shooting lobby will discuss proposed new controls on semi-automatic weapons at an event in London this week.

It has been organised by Conservative MEP Vicky Ford, who is leading the European Parliament's scrutiny of plans to make it harder for criminals and terrorists to obtain such guns. The measures are part of the European Union's response to recent terrorist attacks, including the Paris atrocity.

Mrs Ford says the feedback she receives will help create legislation that strikes a balance between cracking down on criminal activity while protecting legitimate interests.

"I am very much in listening mode and would like to thank the experts for discussing their issues with me," she said. "In the aftermath of Paris and the increased security threat we live under we cannot afford to get this wrong.

"However, we need to ensure the rules are proportionate and that they tackle real problems."

Initial proposals published by the European Commission in November included a ban on collectors owning deactivated so-called Category A weapons such as machine guns, ending civilian use of semi-automatic weapons which resemble those with automatic mechanisms, and introducing standardised medical tests for anyone applying for a firearms certificate.

However, they prompted concern from museum owners and collectors, sporting organisations and groups such as the Countryside Alliance. There are also questions over how the proposals, as currently drafted, might affect military reservists in some countries, activities such as paint balling and historic re-enactments as well as the use of guns in films and television productions.

Mrs Ford intends to prepare a first draft of amendments to the Commission's proposals by mid-March. These will then be discussed and if necessary further amended before a vote in June.

Chief Superintendent Joanne Chilton of the National Ballistics Intelligence Service, who will attend Thursday's meeting, said: "I am grateful the work and expertise of the unit is being recognised at a European level and we will do all we can to best inform those writing new laws."

Others taking part in the discussion include representatives from the Imperial War Museum, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and the Gun Trade Association.

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