Saturday, 19 August 2017

Prague brings lawsuit against EU firearms directive

ČTK |
10 August 2017

Prague, Aug 9 (CTK) - The Czech Republic filed a lawsuit against the EU directive restricting firearms possession with the European Court of Justice today, demanding that the directive become invalid, the Interior Ministry has told CTK.

Prague also filed a complaint against the effect of the directive that the EU member states must transpose into their legal orders by mid-September 2018.

Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD), whose office worked out the complaint along with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, told CTK that he considered this the only possible protection against the impact of the directive.

The restriction might threaten the country's internal security since many firearms would end up in the black market due to it, Chovanec said.

The European Parliament (EP) passed the directive tightening control of firearms in mid-March. Its aim is to prevent terrorists from gaining arms easily.

However, its critics point out that it primarily restricts the market with legally possessed arms and strongly infringes on the country's internal affairs, which is at variance with EU law.

The directive provoked a wave of protests in the Czech Republic. The stricter conditions would afflict some 300,000 holders of firearm licences in the country as well as the owners of weapons modified for blank cartridges, such as those used for theatre or film purposes, that are not registered now.

"This massive punishment of decent arms holders is unacceptable to us since a ban on legally possessed arms has nothing to do with the fight against terrorism," Chovanec said today.

The Czech lawsuit claims that the directive is discriminatory and that some of its provisions are not sufficiently clear and precise to enable arms owners to unambiguously identify their rights and duties.

The real aim is to harmonise the member states' regulations in the sphere of crime prevention and terrorism, but the EU lawmakers have no power to adopt such measures, the complaint writes, describing another reason why the firearms directive should be abolished.

The lawsuit also points out that the MEPs did not sufficiently deal with the proportionate character of the introduced measures and did not assess their impact, which caused the passage of a disproportionate and inconvenient directive.

Chovanec told CTK recently that he was against the introduction of the firearms directive even at the expense of the EU's possible sanctions.

However, it is up to the government to decide on further steps concerning the introduction of the directive.

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