Proposals from within the European Commission which could ultimately see unjustified restrictions placed on lawful gun ownership are being opposed by UK politicians and representative shooting bodies.
The Home Affairs Directorate General of the European Commission has put forward proposals to completely rewrite the EU Firearms Directive by 2015. The Directive lays down strict minimum rules on the legal acquisition, possession of and trade in firearms.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Shooting and Conservation, made up of MPs and peers, met in Westminster this week and discussed the issue. After hearing from the European Hunters’ representative organisation, FACE, the All-Party Group agreed to write to the Home Secretary Theresa May asking her to make representations on their behalf to the European Commission. The letter will be signed by individual members and will make clear their opposition to the proposed reopening of the Firearms Directive.
FACE represents seven million hunters across Europe. It opposes the stated reasons for revising the Firearms Directive, especially claims of a direct link between legal firearms ownership and criminal use of guns, which is not supported by evidence. FACE believes the current Directive is robust and it is up to member states to meet the standards it specifies.
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP who chairs the All Party Group for Shooting and Conservation said: “As Manuel Esparrago head of political affairs at FACE made clear, the Commission are making these proposals without any evidence. This is an appalling way to legislate and is why the EU gets such a bad name in this country. The Commissioner should admit that these changes are unnecessary and quietly drop them.”
FACE UK, which represents 17 country sports organisations, is also opposing attempts to revise the Directive. FACE UK has written to Damian Green, MP, the Minister of State for Policing and Criminal justice.
BASC’S director of firearms, Bill Harriman, said: “The UK has some of the toughest firearms laws in the world which in many instances already exceed the requirements of the European Firearms Directive. There is no evidence to justify many of the claims made by the Home Affairs Directorate of the Commission about the criminal misuse of guns and all policy must be based on sound evidence. Lawfully owned and used firearms are not the problem. Trying to tackle gun crime by increasing restrictions on lawful use has failed many more times than it has succeeded.”