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Brussels, 29th November 2007

Commission welcomes Parliament agreement to strengthen gun control in the European Union

The fight against criminality and firearms trafficking will be reinforced at EU level in the future after the approval by the European Parliament of the European Commission’s proposal at first reading today. The new measures will make proper and complete marking of firearms compulsory. It will extend the duration for record-keeping for data on firearms and ban the purchase of firearms by persons less than eighteen years old. Moreover, the amendments adopted by the European Parliament after an intense dialogue with the Council and the Commission will ensure that traceability for all firearms will be strengthened and rules for the acquisition and possession of firearms will be more rigorous. These requirements will also apply to converted firearms.. The measures will also align the pre-existing directive 91/477 on firearms with the so-called “United Nations Firearms Protocol” to which the Community acceded in 2001, opening the way towards its ratification.

Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen responsible for enterprise and industry policy said: “Today's Parliamentary agreement provides better protection for European citizens against an uncontrolled circulation of firearms, by beefing up our r tracing systems and requirements, notably as regards minors. Recent dramatic events have shown just how necessary it is to have better control the purchase and circulation of arms. . I warmly welcome the way the European Parliament has addressed these challenges in close cooperation with the Council and the Commission. ”

The directive aims to complete the existing Directive 91/477/EC which was an accompanying measure of the Internal Market. The revised Directive will create a balance between a certain freedom of movement for civil firearms within the EU and the need to control and trace their circulation. The main elements are as follows:

  • The obligation to mark firearms at the time of manufacture with references to identification particulars will be reinforced;
  • It will be obligatory to mark firearms also when they are transferred from government stocks to permanent civil use;
  • Each Member State will have to set up a computerized data filing system, centralized or decentralized, which will maintain data on firearms for a minimum of twenty years;
  • The measures will also apply to explicitly converted firearms ;
  • The conditions of use of firearms by persons less than 18 years old will be strictly controlled and the purchase of firearms by minors will be forbidden;
  • The proper use and recognition of the European Firearms Pass inside the EU will be guaranteed;
  • The Commission will carry out a number of studies on firearms replicas, and on possible simplification of measures on firearms classification of firearms, as well as guidelines on deactivation of firearms.

The proposal will now go to the Council of Ministers for final approval.

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