New plans to close firearms loopholes unveiled by Conservative MEP

20-Apr-2016 @ 16:30

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Legal controls on blank firing guns, basic standards for firearms storage, mandatory medical checks for licence holders and tighter controls on the sale of ammunition are being proposed in an attempt to close loopholes in European gun laws.

The measures are part of a raft of proposals put forward today by Conservative Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) spokesman Vicky Ford MEP. The Eastern England MEP is leading the European Parliament's response to changes to the Firearms Directive produced by the European Commission following the Paris terrorist attacks.

Mrs Ford has described the EC's proposals as poorly drafted and having unintended consequences for museum owners and collectors, sporting organisations and groups such as the Countryside Alliance.

She has tabled 86 amendments and called for more suggestions when she placed them before the Parliament's IMCO committee in Brussels today.

She said: "Paris was a wake-up call. We have had European gun laws since 1991 and there is a clear loophole in the treatment of blank firing weapons which allows their conversion to fire live rounds. We must close that loophole.

"We cannot fight terrorism alone and it is important I receive suggestions from different parts of Europe. We can then work together on compromises so that the interests of legitimate users are safeguarded while we keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists and criminals."

Mrs Ford is suggesting that a firearm should only be considered deactivated if the process is truly irreversible. A list of components essential for a firearm to operate would be drawn up so that these can also be traced.

Other proposals include:

* Rewording the EC's "impractical" plan to ban semi-automatic firearms that resemble automatic firearms;

* Define strict conditions under which otherwise prohibited firearms could be used for historical, study or national security purposes. Permissions would be granted on a case-by-case basis by Member States only if public safety was not endangered;

* Introduce secure storage requirements, which could include on-site checks;

* Introduce medical checks for those holding firearms, although it would be left to Member States to decide how these should operate;

* The handover of firearms, parts, and ammunition at the conclusion of a sale must take place face-to-face;

* Improve information sharing among EU Member States, including details of when authorisation has been refused.

The committee is expected to vote on the final proposals at the end of June.

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