New EU rules on gun ownership will help to take dangerous weapons out of circulation – Hayes
MEP for Dublin, Brian Hayes has today welcomed the passage of the Firearms Directive. “Any attempt to limit the use of semi-automatic weapons across Europe has to be welcomed.”
“We have to work at an EU level to limit the use of dangerous firearms without knocking out legitimate clubs and individuals who take part in shooting as a sport. Already very high standards are applied in Ireland when it comes to gun authorisation, controlled settings and gun transfers. This sensible package that was voted today in Strasbourg will help the Gardaí in their efforts and crucially will help all police authorities in fighting terrorism.
“European laws on firearms have existed since the 1990s. Revising them makes sense given the threat of terrorism across the EU. The rules around ownership of guns need to be tighter given that firearms have been extensively used in terrorist attacks in recent years.
“Under the new rules firearms will be placed into three categories different categories: A,B and C. Concerns have been expressed that the guns used in target and sports shooting now fall within Category A which prohibits such firearms.
“I like all MEPs have received a huge amount of correspondence from citizens all over the EU criticising the new rules. I would assure them that the European Parliament did not accept the original Commission text as this would have put too much restrictions on legal owners. The Parliament ensured that target and sports shooting will be able to continue, provided that this is accepted in the Member State concerned. Parliament’s amendments also ensured that Category A weapons can be used for target shooters, provided the individual is actively practicing for or participating in shooting competitions.
“Essentially, the amendments passed to the original proposal from the Commission make the directive more workable, with significant flexibility given to Member States. There is also a grandfathering clause for existing license holders.
“The new directive will strengthen the rules around ‘blank firing weapons’ – i.e. working firearms converted to fire blanks. Under existing rules, there is no requirement to obtain permission to buy or sell such guns in a number of Member States. These guns can then be re-converted to live weapons. This type of firearm was used in the Paris terrorist attacks.
“A major part of the revised rules is the requirement to share information on gun ownership between Member States. Member States will be required as a priority to put in place a system to share information on gun ownership. Here again this makes sense and already in Ireland we have a robust system in place to monitor gun ownership and use.
“It is important that Europe acts together in making sure that dangerous weapons do not get into the wrong hands. Revising the existing rules around gun ownership is part of that. It will not eradicate the threat of terrorism but will limit the availability of very dangerous weapons, without making life impossible for a minority sport like target shooting”, concluded MEP Hayes.