The European Parliament has had its first meeting to discuss the proposed amendments to the EU Firearms Directive. Shooting representatives have hailed the meeting as a promising first step, with the majority of MEPs expressing concerns over the amendments’ impact on lawful shooters.
The amendments, which include restricting shooting for under-18s, mandatory medical tests and an EU-wide ban of certain self-loading rifles, have been highly controversial with shooting communities across Europe since the proposals were published last year.
However, it seems these concerns were recognised by the majority of the European Parliament committee, in a debate dominated by the discussion of the “impact on law-abiding citizens”, according to an official European Parliament press release.
The Countryside Alliance, in attendance to represent British shooting, reported on proceedings, saying: “The vast majority of MEPs are in agreement that the current proposed amendments are poorly drafted and that any changes to the Directive should be proportionate to the risk and directed at reducing terrorism and illegal trafficking, not making life more difficult for legal firearm users. MEPs from a number of countries, including the UK, made their feelings apparent and the impact on hunters and target shooters featured very high.”
Richard Ali, chief executive of BASC and chairman of FACE UK, said: “I am grateful for the commitments I have received from British MEPs that they will work to ensure that British shooting is not damaged by unintended consequences.”
Vicky Ford, Conservative MEP from the UK who will oversee the legislation’s progress through the European Parliament, called the proposal “poorly drafted”, criticising the lack of consideration for lawful firearms owners in the EU.
Mrs Ford has also asked shooters and shooting representatives to engage positively with the process and offer alternatives, saying: “To those who are following this process I say we hear your concerns. We have all had lots of emails telling us what’s wrong, we now need suggestions on how we can make it better. Please don’t threaten us as Members of the Parliament, we are trying to help.”
The next meeting to discuss the proposed amendments will take place on 15 March, allowing experts and stakeholders to express their views. Mrs Ford said, “I want to make sure that as many different concerns, and possible suggestions for changes, are heard at that meeting.”
Meanwhile, FACE UK, the British branch of the European Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation, is urging firearms owners to make their opinions known to their MEP via its dedicated webpage.