In the late evening of May 9th, 2016, the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament held an electronic vote session on the amendments to the committee's draft opinion concerning the restrictive modification draft to the European firearms directive as proposed by the European Commission. Said vote was initially planned for Tuesday, April 28th, but was postponed under request from the EPP, ECR and ALDE groups.
And indeed those three groups led common sense and sanity to victory in today's vote, throwing out of the window most, if not all, of the largely anti-gun proposals of the European Commission and of the social-democrat, left and green groups.
While the LIBE's role in the procedure is merely consultive in nature, the outcome of the vote is enough for all law-abiding gun owners to cheer:
- The proposal to ban "Category B7" modern sporting firearms (a.k.a. "military-style" guns) was rejected.
- The proposal to severely restrict or even impose licensing and registrations for deactivated and replica firearms was rejected.
- Collectors are kept out of the scope of the directive.
- The proposal to restrict detachable magazines in capacity, to include them into the list of "essential firearm components" and impose mandatory registration EU-wide was rejected; same goes for silencers and sound suppressors.
- The socialists' proposal to impose an an additional tax on firearms and ammunitions has been rejected.
- While essential gun parts should be marked, the proposal to impose marking of ammunition was rejected.
- Member States will still be allowed to sell ex-military surplus to civilians and to grant, although under certain conditions, licenses for "Category A" military firearms and light weapons.
- The proposal to impose EU-common mandatory medical standards and tests for the release and the renewal of gun licenses, and the proposal to impose an EU-level standard expiry date for all gun licenses, were both rejected.
- People under the age of 18 will still be allowed to own and operate firearms for hunting and sport shooting, albeit under the supervision of an adult guardian that should also be a licensed gun owner.
- While LIBE asks that the European Directive should refer to "mandatory safe storage" for privately-owned firearms, conditions and standards for said "safe storage" should be left to each individual Member State to establish on its own soil.
- EU Member States should established a common database of licensed gun owners. As "Big Brother-ish" as it may sound, this could open the way for a future gun license reciprocity in the EU.
While the main battle is fought at the Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee (IMCO), which is tasked with providing the European Parliament as a whole of a draft to vote on, the one at LIBE is definitely an important victory: the LIBE committee was supposed to be the most overtly hostile environment for gun owners, and it's unlikely that the situation at IMCO could be any worse than this.
Sure, the victory at LIBE is no cause to let our guard down: our community can expect that in the next days and weeks, the European Commission and the Council of European Union − both currently supportive of the ban − may stage some kind of reaction. Things haven't been going as the anti-gunners expected, right from the very get go, and that's why we should all brace for some kind of dirty trick.
And as a matter of fact, if the IMCO draft should be in our favour and the European Parliament should vote against the proposed EU gun ban, the European Commission and Council could reject the Parliament ruling, thus forcing the matter towards the very lengthy procedures of a conciliation committee. Both the Council and the Parliament could veto and block the legislative proposal at this final reading − and that frightens the anti-gun EU institutions, as the time is running out for the current Dutch Presidency of the EU (which is overtly supportive of the ban proposal) and the next two Presidencies − Slovakia, from July 2016 to January 2017, and then Malta, from January to June 2017 − are both supportive of the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
That's why a recent note by the growing association known as FIREARMS UNITED is once again calling European gun owners to action against the next moves of the European Commission and the Dutch Presidency.
FIREARMS UNITED obtained and released a classified working document of the Working Party on General matters, including Evaluation (GENVAL), which would seem to hint that the European Commission, the Council and the Dutch Presidency haven't lost their will to disarm law-abiding European citizens, and that the Dutch Presidency may be thinking of appointing the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) to propose the gun ban draft to the plenary session of the Council of the European Union instead of GENVAL, so to prevent any "interference" from law-abiding citizens against liberticide restrictions and to avoid discussing the solid objections opposed by many technical and legal experts.
Facing this new anti-democratic attempt to forcefully pass a package of restrictions whose only motivation is to save the helplessly incompetent European Commission's face in front of its citizens, we at all4shooters.com join FIREARMS UNITED's call to action: all law-abiding gun owners should keep up the pressure on the European institutions.
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