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Q&A – Latest proposals for European Firearms Directive

BASC-2014Note: These are proposals developed by the Internal Market Committee (IMCO) that have yet to be voted on in the EU Parliament. However, their recommendations will steer the Parliament and MEPs. These questions have been styled to the UK and its current laws.

1. Can under 18s still own their own firearm?

The proposal re-establishes that young people may continue to own firearms under the current framework in each Member State.

2. Will there be more onerous medical requirements?

A provision exists that requires Member States to establish a monitoring system, including the assessment of relevant medical information. It is up to Member States to choose their system. The UK has such a system in place.

3. Can the UK move to ten year certificates?

A provision allows Member States to increase certificate life beyond five years where they operate a system of continuous monitoring of certificate holders.

4. Will semi-automatic rim fire rifles be banned?

.22 calibre semi-automatic rim-fire rifles remain for hunters and target shooters to own. This is regardless of magazine capacity and means the UK will keep the status quo.

5. Will semi-automatic shotguns still be permitted for vermin control or practical shooting in the UK?

The EU provision prohibits all centrefire semi-automatic firearms, and loading devices (magazines), with one or more of the following characteristics:

a) semi-automatic long firearms (i.e. firearms that are originally intended to be fired from the shoulder) that can be reduced to a length of less than 60cm without losing functionality by means of a folding or telescoping stock.”

b) firearms which allow the firing of more than 21 rounds without reloading, if a loading device with a capacity exceeding 20 rounds is part of the firearm or is inserted into it.

The overwhelming majority of shotguns will be unaffected in the UK; Section 1 shotguns fall outside the above EU prohibition unless their capacity exceeds 21 rounds (see question 6). Section 2 shotguns are unaffected.

6. Will practical shooters continue to own higher capacity semi-automatic shotguns?

Firearms with a magazine which allow the firing of more than 21 rounds without reloading will be prohibited, except under the following conditions;

a) the target shooter participates in shooting competitions organised by an official shooting sport organisation recognised by a Member State or by an internationally established and officially recognised shooting sport federation; and

b) the target shooter is a member of a recognised shooting club, regularly practises target shooting and has been doing so for at least twelve months.

7. Will military-looking designs be banned?

Firearms (including shotguns) which ‘resemble’ automatic firearms (e.g. those built on AR15/M16, HK MP5, Sigg 522 and AK47 actions) will remain in their current UK categories and can be used for hunting and target shooting according to individual Member State laws.

8. Are detachable magazines controlled?

To acquire new high capacity magazines (21 shots or more) for UK semi-automatic shotguns; a corresponding firearm authorisation must be presented at the time of acquisition. All other magazines remain outside this control as do magazines purchased prior to any change in EU law. Large capacity magazines for rim-fire semi-automatics are exempt as are those for straight pull and other non-semi-automatic firearms.

9. Are semi-automatic handguns caught by the provisions?

Handguns fall outside this provision on the basis of capacity and that they are not termed to be “long firearms” as mentioned in the legal text.

10. Have sound moderators been restricted?

Sound moderators have not been caught by the proposals. No changes are required for the UK.

11. Are there any changes to the way we transfer firearms?

A “face-to-face” transfer requirement has been introduced but the UK is already compliant.

12. Do dealers require electronic registers?

No. Article 4 has been clarified so that there is no ambiguity over electronic registers. Instead Article 4 requires dealers to notify transfers within 10 days of a transaction. The UK is already compliant where “sales” are involved. Notifications will be required for other types of transfer.

13. Has home loading of ammunition suffered?

No. Home-loading has been specifically preserved in a proposal.

14. Will security provisions be tightened?

The proposals require Member States to implement security provisions, but it is up to Member States to choose their own systems. The UK’s system is robust and we envisage no changes.

15. Will shotgun cartridges (Section 2) be affected in any way?

No, the status quo remains for the UK for acquisition, possession, storage and use.

16. Will collectors be affected?

The current proposals preserve collecting and allow Member States to permit collectors, museums, film armourers, proof houses, forensic scientists and others to have access to EU Category A (prohibited) firearms where a special case is made out. This includes those who collect disguised firearms (e.g. walking stick shotguns) and ammunition collectors.

17. Will I still be able to make alterations to my own firearms?

Owners may modify their firearms, but not to the point where its EU Category changes. UK laws in this area will still apply.

18. What changes affect air weapons?

Air weapons remain outside the Directive

19. Will deactivated firearms require registration or licences in the UK?

No. The proposal for registration or declaration of deactivated firearms is no longer present.

20. Will new marking requirements apply to firearms and essential components manufactured before the Directive comes into force?


21. When will the directive come into force?

The Directive (if passed in its current IMCO format) will come into effect 12 months after the Directive is published in the EU Official Journal. This is shorter than the 36 months originally proposed.



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