Commission says ‘stop free circulation of Kalashnikovs’

Attacks carried out using firearms, as well as improvised explosive devices, are considered to be the most likely threats. [Jayel Aheram/Flickr]

Talks on an EU-wide ban on some of the most lethal semi-automatic assault weapons, including the Kalashnikov prized by militants the world over, broke down yesterday (6 December) amid disputes over definitions of firearm types.

The European Commission is at odds with member states and the European Parliament over its plan to prohibit private citizens from owning weapons like the Russian-made Kalashnikov, or AK-47, and the US-produced M-16.

Commission battles hostile firearms lobby

One year and hundreds of hours of meetings after the Paris attacks, the EU is still struggling to find common ground on the regulation of firearms. Some hunters and sport shooters have flatly rejected the debate. EURACTIV France reports.

The measure is part of an overall tightening of EU rules governing the purchase and sale of such weapons since two Islamist gunmen shot dead 11 people in the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 and militants killed 130 people in attacks in Paris in November last year.

Nearly seven hours of negotiations on the proposal broke off in Tuesday’s pre-dawn hours amid wrangling over the legal definition of semi-automatic firearms, EU sources said.

“The (28-nation EU) single market was not built to allow for the free circulation of Kalashnikovs,” Commission chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas said in an unusually strongly statement.

“We can’t water down the level of security proposed by the Commission (and still) protect our citizens.”

A spokeswoman for Slovakia, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said progress had been made in the talks and envoys of the 28 member states would reconvene today.

Gun-control legislation differs widely across the EU. Some countries permit semi-automatic firearms used by hunters and sportsmen. The EU executive wants a ban on the deadliest firearms such as semi-automatic versions of assault weapons like the AK-47 used by soldiers and militants.

Czech Republic against strengthening gun control in EU

The Czech Republic does not support the proposal for strengthening control of firearms in the EU presented by the European Commission in November. EURACTIV Czech Republic reports.

Member states and the European Parliament have sought to dilute the Commission’s proposal, which also calls for stricter monitoring of the gun market, to exempt groups ranging from shooting clubs to collectors.

Commission's gun proposal shot down by Parliament committee

The European Commission wants to make purchasing firearms in the EU more difficult and has cited the Paris attacks as the main contributing factor. However, Parliament has voiced its concerns about how effective its proposal will be. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Nations critical of the proposal have said it unduly punishes legal gun owners, while doing little to clamp down on illegal weapons. Supporters say the gun lobby’s influence has watered down provisions essential to citizens’ security.

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