E.U. leaders along with Prime Minister of the U.K. David Cameron are pushing for increased restrictions on semi-automatic rifles. European ministers of the interior have put together a proposal to restrict the purchase of semi-automatic guns. These restrictions may affect deactivated (non-functioning or partially-destroyed) guns. Deactivated guns are collected by military historians and gun enthusiasts in general.
“A terrorist threat in one country is a danger to all of us, so I believe there is more we must do together to tackle the threat,” said Cameron. Officials may be considering an “assault weapons”-style ban targeting specific firearms like AKs and ARs.
These guns can be modified or restored into their military counterparts in order to commit large-scale crimes, say the proposal’s supporters. Still, the proposal has opponents in the form of both E.U. member states and private gun owners.
The European Parliament has not yet passed the proposal. It does make exemptions for target shooters and museums. Objections from the Czech Republic and Finland have lead to early changes to the proposed ban. Both countries have strong gun cultures and large numbers of private gun owners.
Hunting groups and European filmmakers are also opposed to the restrictions. For now gun laws in Europe vary greatly from nation to nation and are only required to meet a minimum criteria to qualify for E.U. membership.
Some diplomats have reported that a final draft has already been completed, reports the Wall Street Journal. It may take months before any new restrictions are put in place. Compromises are also possible, which suggests that the measure doesn’t have as much support as E.U. leaders want.
The E.U. Observer adds that Switzerland, which is not a part of the E.U. but works with it on security issues, stands for more tolerant gun laws. Switzerland has a very high rate of private gun ownership and a prevailing militia system.
In 2014 leader of the UK’s Independence Party Nigel Farage, came out against England’s 30-year-old handgun ban. Farage called it both “knee-jerk” and “ludicrous.” His argument for ending the ban should be familiar to gun rights advocates around the world.
“If you criminalize handguns then only the criminals carry the guns,” said Farage, reported the Guardian. “It’s really interesting that since Blair brought that piece of law in, gun crime doubled in the next five years in this country.”
“I think the knee-jerk legislation that Blair brought in that meant that the British Olympic pistol team have to go to France to even practice was just crackers,” said Farage. “I think the ban on handguns is ludicrous.”
With the current upset in the status quo in Europe over Brexit, only time will tell how far E.U. leaders will be able to go with gun control laws.