Agreement edges closer on EU Firearms Directive

17-Nov-2016 @ 16:00

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Agreement edges closer on EU Firearms Directive

Good progress is being made on agreeing revisions to the EU's Firearms Directive which are being steered through the European Parliament by Conservative Internal Market spokesman Vicky Ford.

Following the third round of trilogue discussions between the Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council, Mrs Ford said the three sides were moving together on a range of issues.

"At the moment the Parliament is demanding its key positions are met," she stated. "We are all dedicating significant time towards finalising a text which works for legal holders of firearms and addresses those loopholes and inconsistencies which have existed in the past."

The revised Directive aims to help keep semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of terrorists and criminals while protecting legitimate users.

A fourth round of trilogue talks has been scheduled for December 5. Once agreement is reached, the Directive will be put to all MEPs for approval.

The latest positions are:

Semi-automatic Firearms and the exemption for sport shooters
* There is a shared position between the Council and Parliament that certain semi-automatic firearms when fitted with high capacity magazines are to be treated as Category A prohibited firearms but with special permissions for sport shooters.
* There is agreement between the Commission, Council and Parliament that the exemption for sport shooters must work not just on paper but also in practice. Any organisations with practical concerns about the exemption should raise these with the Commission to make sure they can be addressed.
* Further discussion is required on the issue of semi-automatics converted from automatics. The Parliament has restated their desire to try and find a solution that is workable for the responsible legal shooting community. The positions of the Parliament and Council remain close on the ability for Member States to continue to grant authorisations for existing owners.

Deactivated Firearms
* It is important that deactivation of firearms should be irreversible and ensure the firearm is inoperable. The European Deactivation Regulation introduced in April 2016 sets a single standard for deactivation but has raised many practical issues for legitimate holders of these items, including re-enactors. There is now a clearer understanding by the Council and the Commission of the issues faced by legitimate holders of these items and progress is being made on resolving implementing issues in the Deactivation Regulation.
* Regarding deactivations before April 2016, the Parliament position is that firearms deactivated to an equivalent previous standard should still be able to be bought and sold and we suggest that national deactivation standards which are equivalent to the aims of the new EU standard adopted should be recognised as such. We are making progress with this.
* It is clear that the Commission will not be prepared to just rubber stamp all old deactivation standards so it will be up to each Member State to make the case for deactivations undertaken according to their previous system.

* We are making good progress on agreeing language for special authorisations for reservists and other specialist needs, although this is not yet finalised.
* On so called medical tests, the Parliament is pressing the case for member states to have monitoring systems, which include the assessment of relevant medical and psychological information in accordance with national law, and which may be on a continuous or non-continuous basis.

European Firearms Pass
* The Council has agreed to include Category A weapons in the European Firearms Pass when holders have authorisations for them. This will improve the implementation of the pass.

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