Sunday, 17 February 2019

Gov't approves arms possession bill

8 February 2018

Prague, Feb 7 (CTK) - The Czech cabinet approved on Wednesday a draft amendment updating the law on arms in accordance with a new EU directive shortening the period of arms holders' licence validity and introducing new arms categories, although Prague is opposed to the directive and filed a lawsuit against it in 2017.

To take effect, the draft amendment needs to be passed by Czech parliament.

The Civic Democrats (ODS), who are the strongest opposition party, stood up against the bill.

Interior Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO) told the media that the Czech Republic is bound to transpose the directive in its national legislation by September 14.

The Czech-initiated dispute over the directive at the European Court of Justice cannot be settled by then. That is why the Czech cabinet has approved the [transposition] bill, for the Czech Republic not to face European sanctions, Metnar said.

Prague is not considering withdrawing its lawsuit against the directive, he said.

He said the cabinet transposed the directive to the least possible extent.

"No one will take any weapons away from people. The changes mean basically nothing but the introduction of administrative measures," Metnar said.

The bill extends the current two arms categories to include another two, applying, for example, to legally possessed types of weapons whose holders are not bound to have them officially registered now, such as historical, deactivated and gas weapons.

It is not clear how many weapons will have to be newly registered by their Czech owners. Their number has been estimated at tens- to hundreds of thousands.

Together with the shortening of the arms licence's period of validity, the registration fee will go down from 700 to 400 crowns.

The bill restricts the possession of magazines with over 10 rounds for long firearms and over 20 rounds for short firearms.

There were some 301,000 arms licence holders in the 10.5-million Czech Republic in mid-2016. They held a total of 819,000 weapons that are subject to registration under the current law.

On arrival at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Deputy PM Richard Brabec (ANO) said the bill has been drafted in a way to incorporate the EU directive but also regarding the fact that the current Czech law is quite tough.

Brabec said the Chamber of Deputies might still discuss changes to certain parameters of the bill, such as those related to short firearms with magazines for more than 20 rounds.

Opposed to the bill, the ODS said the Czech Republic should not implement it, not even at the cost of sanctions.

"The lawsuit Prague previously filed against the directive with the European Court of Justice has not been decided on yet, and its fate is thus uncertain," ODS MP Jana Cernochova said.

Copyright 2015 by the Czech News Agency (ČTK). All rights reserved.
Copying, dissemination or other publication of this article or parts thereof without the prior written consent of ČTK is expressly forbidden. The Prague Daily Monitor is not responsible for its content.