European Parliament approves revised EU gun law but what does it mean for target shooters

Image source: sportScotland

The European Parliament is one step closer to implementing new stricter gun laws across the European Union, by endorsing a provisional deal, on the EU firearms directive, that was reached by Parliament and Council negotiators back in December 2016. 

The amendments come off the back of the Paris terror attacks and place an obligation on EU member states to have an appropriate monitoring system in place for the issue and renewal of firearm licenses and tighter controls on blank-firing 'acoustic' weapons and inadequately deactivated weapons. Following pressure from Parliament, the EU Commission has also pledged to adopt revised deactivation standards, by the end of May 2017, in order to ensure that deactivated firearms are rendered irreversibly inoperable.

Under the revised EU Firearms Directive, firearm types will be divided into three categories: A, B & C. 

  • Category A firearms = Prohibited except for certain types of individuals
  • Category B firearms = Authorisation required
  • Category C firearms = Ownership requires declared but no authorisation required

The revised provisions also includes stricter controls on certain semi-automatic firearms when fitted with high capacity magazines and on automatic firearms that have been converted into semi-automatics. Those types of firearms will fall under the prohibited 'category A' but target-shooters need not be concerned as the sport falls under a special exemption.

Target shooters will be familiar with the types of firearm that fall under the prohibited category A but member states will, however, be able to give Category A authorisations to target shooters provided the individual is actively practising for or participating in shooting competitions. This applies to those who are entering the sport as well as those already competing. As such, the current freedom of choice of equipment is not restricted and the rules will be updated to cover firearms held by target shooters. 

What's Next? 

The law is still in draft form and requires to be formally approved by the EU Council of Ministers. Member States will thereafter have 15 months from the date of entry into force of the directive to transpose the new rules into national law and 30 months to put in place data-filing systems for registering the relevant information to allow for the tracing and identification of firearms. 

IMPORTANT: This post is not intended to be a legal briefing, it is not intended to be a statement of the law and no action should be taken in reliance on it without specific legal advice.

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