EU Proposes New Rules on Import and Export of Firearms
The European Commission is proposing to update EU rules on the import, export and transit of firearms for civilian use. As many as 35 million illicit firearms are estimated to be in the hands of civilians in the EU.
The aim of the revised rules is to enhance security and address firearms trafficking, and will enable coordinated controls and risk assessments to improve the traceability of firearms.
A statement from the EU Commission states that the illicit flow of firearms, essential components and ammunitions facilitate serious and organised crime, including terrorism. They enable violence and support criminal businesses. Illicit firearms also affect other areas of organised crime, such as trafficking in drugs and human beings.
The updated rules will include:
- Clear and common procedures for the import, export and transit of firearms for civilian use. For example, the current proposal will exempt firearms manufacturers, dealers, and users from a fee to obtain an import or export authorisation.
- Simplified import and export procedures for hunters, sport shooters and exhibitors: notably no prior import or export authorisation for hunters with a European Firearms Pass will be required.
- A new EU electronic licensing system for firearms manufacturers and dealers to apply for import and export authorization
- Strict technical standards for alarm and signal weapons, which are devices manufactured to only be able to fire blank, tear gas or irritant ammunition. This will help avoid them being converted into lethal firearms.
- Stricter rules on semi-finished firearms components. They will be imported only by licensed dealers and brokers, reducing the threat of home-made firearms without marking or registration (“ghost guns”).
- An end-user certificate for the more dangerous firearms.
- Strict checks on refusals to grant import or export authorisations. National authorities will have to check whether someone applying for an authorisation has already been refused one in another Member State.
Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said, ‘Firearms trafficking feeds organised crime within the EU and breeds political instability in the EU’s neighbourhood. With the development of fast parcel delivery and of new technologies, trafficking of firearms is taking new forms to escape controls. As legislators, we need to catch up. The reform we are proposing will close down the loopholes in the existing rules which are often circumvented, leading to firearms being smuggled and diverted into the EU.’
It is now for the European Parliament and the Council to examine the proposal. Once adopted, the rules will be directly applicable across the EU.