Here we go again.
Rumors had been around for weeks, before last bloody Friday, but we couldn't confirm nor deny without solid evidence − and indeed several concerned north-European citizens had sent E-Mails to Mr. Fabio Marini (head of the Firearms Task Force at DG Home) only to receive a reassuring denial:
"I can inform you that the Commission has not taken any decision about the timing for the revision of the EU legislation on firearms and its possible topics. So the news about a possible consideration of the semi-automatic weapons does not seem to be correct. The Commission will assess in due time any aspect of a possible revision of the EU legislation taking into account the position of all stakeholders."
Even the Finnish Ministry of Interior, in agreement with the Finnish Ministry of Defense, released a statement last October 27th, raising an alarm over possible restrictions on certain categories of legally-held firearms and openly declaring its opposition to them.
After the Paris tragedy, the anti-gunners at the European Commission got the cat out of the bag with a press release dated November 18th, declaring to be at work for "urgent" changes to the European directive on firearms.
According to the press release, many members of the European Commission (including the Internal Market and Industry Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska and Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos) would agree on the draft − which is nothing good for law-abiding gun owners.
The only response provided by the European Commission to an attack carried on with illegal full-automatic rifles and hand grenades is to impose further limitations on legally-held firearms.
The seven points stated in the press release are more than enough to see where thety want to go.
- Moving all Category B7 firearms to Category A (under no circumstances allowed for civilian ownership)
Simply put, that would be a total ban on modern sporting guns − those who have the outline appearence of, and only some partial technical similarities with, modern military firearms. That would mean a crippling blow to the market, since these guns are the most commonly sought-after by the younger generations of sport shooters and hunters; they're also used in a plethora of sport shooting disciplines which would thus disappear overnight from Europe.
We already widely discussed in the past how this category of firearms is also the most wildly hated by bureaucrats, politicians and high-rank law enforcement officials all around Europe. Now, those self-centered, shamelessly elitist individuals are attempting to exploit the deaths of dozens, killed with illegal full-automatic firearms, to make an old dream of theirs come true and enact a sweeping ban on millions of legal semi-automatic, civilian-grade guns which have never been used on any high-profile crime in Europe but which are still refered to, with a blatant lie, as "easily converted to automatic arms" and "very dangerous when their capacity regarding the number of rounds is high".
- Tighter rules on the online acquisition of firearms.
As of today, basically all European Countries have already strict regulations in place to guarantee that only a gun license holder can receive a parcel containing arms, ammunition or components; in many EU-member Countries, On-Line trade of those articles is already banned − and of course that didn't stem the black market one bit.
It's thus adamantly clear how this norm would be meant to crack down on the legal trade of harmless, unregulated accessories such as aftermarket add-ons, detachable magazines, and non-essential components used for basic maintenance. This sounds pretty much like an expedient to ban the On-Line sale of some objects ("tactical" optical sights, gunlights, laser pointers, high-capacity magazines, and others) that many would like to see become MIL/LE only articles. Such a regulation would also cripple the custom parts market and make regular maintenance of firearms more expensive, thus resulting in a deterrent against gun ownership.
- Common EU rules on marking of firearms to improve the traceability of weapons.
Traceability of firearms is already ensured today by the CIP certification of all proofing houses in Europe. Any further regulation could thus be aimed to impose useless and expensive measures such as microstamping or ballistic fingerprinting.
Microstamping would mandate all gun manufacturers to make sure that every single firearm they produce would leave a unique mark on the bullet and the spent case; this requires expensive and complicated technologies that would make guns way more expensive for the final user and push smaller gunmakers out of business.
Ballistic fingerprinting would require law enforcement to keep data on the markings typically left on the bullet and the spent case by every single firearm in civilian hands, and has been experimented in the United States − where it proved to be useless. As a matter of fact, the State of Massachussets recently killed its mandatory ballistic fingerprinting program after it failed to help solve one single case in fifteen years!
- Better exchange of information between Member States.
This may sound a common-sense proposal... until you read what does the EC mean for "better exchange of information". Member Countries should thus be and under an obligation to interconnect their national registers of weapons with those of other EU Countries (creating them, shouldn't they have one), so that eg. each EU Country should know of any refusal of authorisation to own a firearm decided by another national authority.
A similar idea is inherently dangerous under many points of view, including privacy and system vulnerability (a malicious attacker would only need to gain unauthorized access to one database and would immediately know everything on all gun owners in Europe!). It is also a threat to the freedom of individual Citizens of the European Union: member States should spend enormous amounts of money for no other purpose than allowing power-hungry bureaucrats to turn Europe into a real-life "Big Brother", violating all ethics and de facto endorsing the beliefs of those who fear that the European Union is meant to become nothing else but a vast dictatorship.
- Common criteria concerning alarm weapons in order to prevent their transformation into fully functioning firearms.
This, along with the implementation of common minimum standards for deactivation of firearms, may very well be the only real common sense rule in the draft. Sure, it's still dangerous − as it may turn into an outright ban on certain categories of blank-firing replicas and deactivated firearms. So to speak: it's true that some front-firing blank pistols and the so-called "Expansion Weapons" (military firearms deactivated in a "mild" form on purpose, so to be easily restored to full operation) may pose a threat if restored or converted for illegal purposes, but those also have a legitimate reason to be − think of custom builds and movie props.
Not to mention, the use of blank firing replicas converted to real-life ammunition is definitely a niche phenomenon between European criminals: most of their handguns are illegally imported (often from the military arsenals of former ComBloc Countries), stolen from military or Police depots and evidence lockers − and we are not aware of one single instance of terrorists using a converted blank-firing replica, ever!
- Stricter conditions for the circulation of deactivated firearms.
Yet another useless restriction proposal which (at least on the surface) appears to contradict another proposed restriction as described in the press release. Why should stricter conditions required for their circulation if the deactivation should be meant to be more radical? Well, that's obvious: because the ultimate goal is their total ban.
And as a matter of fact, the press release itself openly admits that military-style firearms should be completely banned from civilian ownership even in their deactivated form.
How could a total ban on legal civilian-grade firearms whose "military style" is merely a matter of appearence (the assumption that they could be "easily converted to automatic" fire is a blatant lie!) prevent further attacks from being carried on with machineguns and hand grenades... that remains to be seen. And despite what anti-gunners state, the ban on semi-automatic centerfire rifles in the United Kingdom and Australia did not save one single life.
- Stricter conditions for collectors.
According to the press release, stricter conditions should be needed for gun collections in order to "limit the risk of sale to criminals". But when has a legitimate European gun collector ever willingly sold his or her guns to criminals?
Once again there's a hidden agenda behind these "stricter conditions": preventing single individuals from owning "too many guns" for the standards of power-hungry politicians and bureaucrats who would rather see all European citizens disarmed.
And as a matter of fact, the draft would seem to include other bad restrictions, such as the reduction of all gun licenses to a 5-years expiry, and a mandatory clinical and mental check-up for their renewal. All blank-firing guns should also be included in Category C, meaning that a license should be required for their purchase and that their ownership should be registered with law enforcement authorities.
Such proposals wouldn't only tackle law-abiding gun ownership − they would affect at least half of the European citizens.
Now, we don't really believe that the European Commissioners are just as naïve as they seem to be judging from this hastily-approved draft.
In our opinion, the truth is much darker: they're attempting to seize any opportunity they can to disarm law-abiding European citizens. They don't care about the black market that arms criminals and terrorists.
If it was, by any chance, meant to prevent lethal weapons to end up in the wrong hands, gun control should first address safety issues in military arsenals and Police evidence lockers − that's where the vast majority of guns are stolen from, to end up in the hands of common criminals. Terrorists, on the other hand, have their own sources, their own trade and stakeholders, and nobody in the European Union seems capable or just willing to face the problem.
At the same time, everybody turns a blind eye on the idea that an armed citizenry may very well be the only practical defense against terrorist threats − despite the fact that after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, last January, French Police had to admit that gun control is not helping!
A frightening amount of time, money and work is spent at the EU to blame legal guns and law-abiding citizens: the above-mentioned DG Home's Firearms Task Force often boasts that about half a million legal guns are stolen yearly in Europe and subsequently used by criminals and terrorists.
Firearms United, a worldwide confederation of gun owners, ran its own researches instead, and found out Fabio Marini's numbers to be grossly altered, overestimated on purpose in order to justify any and all insane restriction that the European Union and any national government in the EU could come up with when it comes to legally-held firearms.
Sounds like Europe fears law-abiding armed citizens more than madmen, criminals and terrorists, who of course don't obey the law...
As of today, there is nothing else we know about the proposed restrictions.
Even though the proposal has been labeled as "urgent" by the European Commission, it will require feasibility and economic impact studies before it can be brought to the European Commission and European Parliament in its final form.
This gives the industry and the European gun owners' community some months, or at least some weeks, to plan ahead and implement their countermeasures.
Something is indeed already moving: everybody is well aware that such a disastrous draft would bring British-style gun control upon the entire European Union, with the terrible results that we all know too well.
Keep your eyes and ears wide open, gentlemen: organizations such as Firearms United and others − including industry trade associations − are already engaged to prevent this disaster from ever taking place, and in turn of some days or weeks we will keep you up-to-date with any initiative you can lend a hand to!