Gun rights crushed by EU court, Czechia fights back

Czechia vows to protect firearms owners

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Benedikt Lederer

The rights of the Czech Republic’s gun owners, and those in all of Europe, are under threat following a recent European Court of Justice decision to dismiss a Czech lawsuit challenging EU firearm restrictions, with the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that the country will use all available statutory exceptions to mitigate the decision.

The Czech Republic complained to the EU Court that the EU directive is discriminatory as it interferes with the rights of firearms owners. At the same time, Czech representatives argued that MEPs did not sufficiently address the effects of the directive while approving it.

The European Court of Justice did not accept the argument from the Czech Republic and dismissed the Czech lawsuit against the EU directive.

“It is a final decision, no appeal is possible. The directive is valid. Now, it is up to Czech legislators to make use of the statutory exceptions,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Smolek, who represented the Czech Republic at the Court hearing.

The aforementioned exceptions concern, for example, sport shooting and hunting.

The ban on some semi-automatic firearms has been proposed by the European Commission in response to terrorist attacks in Europe, such as the one in Paris in November 2015.

The European Parliament and EU member states approved the directive last year, but the Czech Republic was against it.

Critics pointed out that the new rule would only affect legal firearms owners as terrorists usually purchase weapons illegally. Arguments also point to the fact that legal gun owners should not be punished for the actions of a few terrorists, many of them who entered Europe illegally or under asylum rules.

Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamáček commented on the dismissal of the Czech lawsuit, assuring legal firearms owners that it does not change the fact that the Czech Republic wants to protect their rights.

Currently, there are over 300,000 licensed firearms owners in the Czech Republic, with thousands of others ready to register their weapons.

The directive bans short semi-automatic weapons with a magazine designed to hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition and long semi-automatic weapons with a magazine designed to hold more than ten rounds of ammunition.

The Interior Ministry has prepared several amendments to firearms ownership laws ensuring that the Czech Republic complies with the EU directive. They are set to come into force in 2022.

However, legislators will try to mitigate the impact of the directive as they already assured certain groups that the new rules will not apply to them. These groups include historical battles reenactment associations, which also criticized the EU restriction.

According to the MPs from governmental as well as opposition parties, the implementation of the EU directive into the Czech law system should be as smooth as possible.

The Czech government has generally backed firearm owners and recently passed a law supporting Czechs who use their weapons in self-defense.


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