Brussels – 16/11/2016
2:00 – 4:30 pm
Conference at the European Parliament
During this conference we will evaluate the impact on illicit traffickers, private owners and on the civilian market, as well as the dangerousness of some types of firearms and the sources for the illicit market.
The European Commission published a proposal to amend the Firearms Directive within a week of the heinous terrorist attacks in Paris in which illegal weapons were used. Its response was to propose sweeping bans and confiscation aimed at several categories of firearms that are in legal possession by law abiding citizens. Claiming urgency, the European Commission proposed these contentious measures without any impact assessment. However the ill-conceived proposal has come under fire and the discussions have dragged on for more than twelve months. Meanwhile the talks in the Trilogue will continue for several more months.
It is time to discuss proposal’s impact!
This conference will give attendees the opportunity to consider our findings and evaluate whether the limited impact on illicit trafficking justifies the consequential impact on more than 100,000,000 citizens and on the civilian market, which supports more than 580,000 jobs in small and medium enterprises. These enterprises are dependent on hunters, recreational shooters and collectors.
The presentations and discussions will also cover the threat to priceless historical firearms held by museums and collectors, the so-called “dangerousness” of some types of firearms, the sources of the illicit market and effective means to combat illicit trafficking and prevent firearms-related deaths.
Draft of the agenda of the conference
Welcome by MEP BERND KÖLMEL
Deputy Federal President of ALFA party, former policeman, lawyer at District Court and Federal Constitutional Court in Germany
Introduction by MEP DITA CHARANZOVA
Shadow rapporteur for ALDE in Committee IMCO at the Trilogue
MEP JUSSI HALLA-AHO
Member of the European Parliament and of both relevant Committees (LIBE and IMCO).
STEPHEN A. PETRONI
FESAC – Chairman of Foundation for European Societies of Arms Collectors, AMACS – President of Association of Maltese Arms Collectors & Shooters, ESSF – Board Member of European Sports Shooting Forum
FIREARMS UNITED – Board Member, PR and Research, GERMAN RIFLE ASSOCIATION – Board Member, PR and Research Business Representative, Managing Director of Triebel GmbH
FIREARMS UNITED – President
to be continued…
Information and Accreditation
TIME: 14:00 – 16:30
CATERING: starts at 13:30
VENUE: European Parliament, Rue Wiertz 60, 1047 Brussels – Room PHS 1A002, Paul-Henri Spaak building
Advanced confirmation of your participation is required by the 9th November 2016
on our website or by email to conference(at)firearms-united.com
specifying your name, surname, date of birth, nationality, number and type of ID document.
Due to increased security in Brussels, participants are requested to arrive 45 minutes in advance – 12:30 to 12:45 – at the Main Entrance, APS Altiero Spinelli Building, European Parliament – 1047 Ixelles, Brussels.
Participants will be requested to show their ID.
MEETING POINT FOR ACCREDITATION:
With regard to the problems highlighted by the European Commission, we have – taking into account all four EU studies on the subject – developed our own conclusions, which we would like to discuss at the conference.
Loopholes are missing technical requirements for weapons that fall outside the directive: deactivated weapons, alarm guns, salute guns and the harmonized definition of separately sold “essential parts”.
The directive does not affect “weapons outside the scope” only if they cannot be converted easily into “live weapons”. This works very well with national definitions in Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Finland and others, while Slovakia and others are still lagging behind.
The basis for such harmonized definitions were already created in 2014 through the EU studies and could have been passed in early 2015. However, only a very rudimentary definition of deactivated firearms was passed in November 2015.
There are no loopholes for collectors that legally buy anything from Cat A through Cat D firearms. All examples that have been presented only concern “weapons hoarders” who import, buy and / or stockpile “weapons outside the scope” or illegal firearms.
Our conclusion: For over a decade, the EU has been lacking harmonized definitions for “easily convertible firearms” and “essential parts”. EU definitions for those can be passed outside of the Firearms Directive. All three missing definitions should be passed as soon as possible. The definition for “deactivated firearms” needs to be repealed with regard to its practical implementation.
Banning several 100 million firearms outside the scope of the directive (replicas, imitation guns, deactivated firearms) as well as legally-held long guns would criminalize and expropriate more than 100 million citizens (= more illicit end users overnight).
Deactivating firearms – according to such drastic standards – held by museums and collectors would damage historical artefacts. Legal producers and dealers will lose their livelihoods.
Confiscations and raids by authorities to enforce this law with regard to suddenly criminalized end users would tremendously increase authorities’ costs. Resources needed in the fight against organised crime would be diverted to prosecuting previously legal owners.
Our conclusions: New harmonised technical guidelines – without amending the Firearms Directive – could close or at least minimise the four loopholes with less costs for authorities.
Financial support for outer border controls, investigative work, information sharing and harmonised minimum penalties for illicit trafficking would tackle the drivers of the black market.
Rejecting the outcome of the Trilogue (option 5) does not mean that control over legal access won’t improve. The EU-wide database of convictions, including the blacklist of illicit dealers, would minimize the risk, that violent and criminal citizens get legal access to firearms.
COMBAT ILLICIT TRAFFICKING
There is no cross-border prosecution and indictment, information on convictions is lacking.
The EU has presented four studies on loopholes and the illegal arms trade, which were published between July 2014 and May 2016. All four studies posit NO NEED for further restrictions concerning current categories A through D, or tighter controls of license holders, as data to support such claims is (currently) lacking and such claims would be based on conjecture only.
The studies demand, however, harmonized penalties for willful illegal production, distribution and possession of firearms, as such harmonization is the only means to guarantee that offenders will not go unpunished solely because they commited their crime in a neighboring country.
This suggestion requires better information sharing, like a black list of convicted illicit producers and dealers, so that they cannot just re-enter the market in another member state. A union-wide “conviction database” is also among listed improvements, so authorities can easily determine if a new applicant for a production / distribution license (as well as already licensed entities) have prior convictions in other member states.
Our conclusion: Including collectors, brokers and formerly “weapons outside the scope of the directive” will not serve to curtail illegal arms trade and / or possession, but will only lead to more bureaucracy, higher costs and increased workload for authorities, which are already lacking time and manpower for effective persecution of criminals.
A „conviction database“ is a more just and cost effective solution than the proposed “firearms license refusal database”, as it will provide access to other areas, not directly related to firearms (cost effective). In addition, grounds for refusal of a firearms license in one member state, like NL, GB or GER may not be sufficient grounds for refusal in another member state like CZ, ITA or NOR (more just). Whether a black list of illegal dealers / producers is kept externally or in the conviction database via search string is a question best answered by IT experts. The main goal is to provide the relevant authorities with easy access to such information.
DETER CRIME AND TERRORISM
Criminals and terrorist generally look for „soft targets”, i.e. defenseless citizens.
If regulations are introduced that limit, either through prohibition or introduction of additional costs, the authorized, legal trade, purchase and possession of firearms, the Firearms Directive will deprive the defenseless, law-abiding citizen of effective means of defense. For this reason, a number of politicians, e.g. the president of the Czech Republic, are currently promoting the adoption of the Israeli way of combating terrorism: they demand more concealed carry licenses for law-abiding citizens.
Even the last EU study concerning misuse of firearms (from May 2016) found that legal possession of firearms can (possibly) serve to combat crime.
In self defense situations against criminals where “only” knives are involved, injuries occur in 50% of all cases – several of them fatal. In self defense situations against criminals in which firearms are present, there are no injuries in 90% of all cases, the threat of or warning shot with the firearm is usually enough to end the attack. (Data from the United States)
Our conclusion: The disarmament of law-abiding citizens, be it through prohibition, tighter regulation or higher costs only serves to empower criminals and terrorists and may even lead to suicides by those that lose their livelihood due to such regulation – as was seen in Great Britain following the handgun ban.