The European Commission has threatened 19 of the EU’s 28 members that they could be sent to the bloc’s Court of Justice if they continue to fail at cracking down on the sale of firearms.

Brussels signalled out Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, and the UK for the violations, saying each country failed to enforce stricter controls on the acquisition and possession of firearms and improve their traceability by marking their components.

The regulations prohibit the sale of military-use firearms, including the widely available Kalashnikov assault rifle, as well as dangerous semi-automatic weapons that can easily be transformed into automatic firearms with a fixed magazine.

The most dangerous firearms can only be acquired if an exemption is made for certain, limited cases, including for national defence or the protection of critical infrastructure.

To legally acquire a firearm, the person must receive a European firearms card that is valid for a maximum of five years, which can later be extended.