New firearms legislation needs "a lot of work"

07-Dec-2015 @ 19:30

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Draft legislation proposed by the European Commission aimed at tightening gun laws in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks needs a lot of work, according to Conservative MEP Vicky Ford.

Mrs Ford chairs the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee and was speaking after members received a presentation of the Commission's proposals.

These include 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 standardised medical tests for anyone applying for a firearms certificate.

Museums approved by national governments would be able to keep automatic weapons, so long as they were deactivated.

The proposals have prompted concern in parts of Europe, such as Germany, where there is a strong hunting lobby. Questions have also been asked in the UK over how the proposals would affect activities such as paint balling and the use of guns in films and television productions.

Mrs Ford, MEP for Eastern England, said: "In the aftermath of the tragic Paris attacks it is right that we look at what more can be done on a practical basis to tackle terrorism and criminal activities. Effective gun controls are part of this.

"The proposals include elements that will improve the sharing of registers between Member States, enhance the marking of weapons and enable the tracking of deactivated arms.

"Concerns have been raised by members of the public on parts of the detailed drafting which has led to confusion about which semi-automatics are to be banned. The exact nature of the responsibilities for museums, collectors and those doing historical re-enactments is also unclear.

"For the first time in my experience the Commission has agreed its drafting is not perfect and asked parliamentarians to work on it. We want to crackdown on the illicit use and holding of weapons while producing clear rules for legal ownership."

Mrs Ford stressed that the UK already had some of Europe's most stringent gun laws and said any new legislation must be coupled with effective enforcement against illegal arms, crime and terrorism across Europe.

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