European Commission Strengthens Control Of Firearms Across EU

19th November 2015

The European Commission has adopted a package of measures to make it more difficult to acquire firearms in the European Union, better track legally held firearms, strengthen cooperation between Member States, and ensure that deactivated firearms are rendered inoperable.

The proposals presented yesterday (18 Nov) were foreseen in the European Security Agenda adopted in April 2015, but have been significantly accelerated in light of recent events. The Commission is hereby supporting Member States in their efforts to protect Europe's citizens and prevent criminals and terrorists from accessing weapons.

President Juncker said:"The recent terrorist attacks on Europe's people and values were coordinated across borders, showing that we must work together to resist these threats. Today's proposal, prepared jointly by Commissioners Elbieta Biekowska and Dimitris Avramopoulos,will help us tackle the threat of weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. We are proposing stricter controls on sale and registration of firearms, and stronger rules to irrevocably deactivate weapons. We will also come forward with an Action Plan in the near future to tackle illicit arms trafficking. Organised criminals accessing and trading military grade firearms in Europe cannot and will not be tolerated."

The Commission has tabled proposals to amend the EU Firearms Directive, which defines the rules under which private persons can acquire and possess weapons, as well as the transfer of firearms to another EU country. The main elements of the proposed revision are:

  • Stricter rules to ban certain semi-automatic firearms, which will not, under any circumstance, be allowed to be held by private persons, even if they have been permanently deactivated;
  • Tighter rules on the online acquisition of firearms, to avoid the acquisition of firearms, key parts or ammunition through the Internet;
  • EU common rules on marking of firearms to improve the traceability of weapons;
  • Better exchange of information between Member States, for example on any refusal of authorisation to own a firearm decided by another national authority, and obligation to interconnect national registers of weapons;
  • Common criteria concerning alarm weapons(e.g. distress flares and starter pistols) in order to prevent their transformation into fully functioning firearms;
  • Stricter conditions for the circulation of deactivated firearms;
  • Stricter conditions for collectors to limit the risk of sale to criminals.

The proposed amendments which the Commission has tabled now need to be approved by the European Parliament and Council.

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