The Czech Republic has filed a law suit against the EU over plans by Brussels to tighten gun ownership that Prague claims could threaten national security and will undermine trust in the EU.
Aiming to make it harder for terrorists to get access to guns in Europe an EU directive passed in March introduces tighter restrictions on the ownership of semi-automatic weapons, new regulations on deactivated guns and make it easier to trace firearms.
Brussels has argued the new measures will help counter the threat of terrorism in Europe but they have left the Czech government and gun owners up in arms.
Boasting some of the most liberal gun laws in Europe the Czech Republic has about 800,000 legally held weapons in a population of just 10 million, so the directive has stirred up fierce opposition and led to the government filing a lawsuit against the EU in the European Court of Justice.
“Such a massive punishment of decent arms holders is unacceptable because banning legally-held weapons has no connection with the fight against terrorism,” Milan Chovanec, the Czech interior minister, said in a statement.
This is not only a nonsensical decision once again undermining people’s trust in the EU, but implementing the directive could also have a negative impact on the internal security of the Czech Republic because a large number of weapons could move to the black market.
Czechs can own a gun, including semi-automatics, if they have no criminal record, are deemed a “reliable character,” are in good health and have passed theoretical and practical firearms tests. The country also permits 240,000 gun owners to carry a concealed weapon for defensive use.
The government claims the directive could affect up to 300,000 firearm holders, in particular, and also claims many of the directive’s provisions are vague and unclear. In what has been regarded as another challenge to the EU the Central-European country has moved to alter its constitution to allow gun owners to use their weapons during a terrorist attack.