The European Commission is meeting fierce resistance from Austria, Germany, France, Italy, and several eastern European states in its attempt to ban the sales of semi-automatic weapons, “Der Spiegel” magazine reports.
Since the Charlie Hebdo attack, the European Commission has advocated a blanket ban on assault rifles and a six bullet limit to the rounds of semi-automatic magazines from 21 today. That initial proposal has now been watered down following intensive lobbying.
Companies such as Germany’s Sig Sauer, Heckler & Koch, Austria’s Glock, and Italy’s Beretta have enlisted support in powerful European parties, including Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), to prevent the regulation of the legal retail market for assault rifles.
Companies and MEPs
The German investigative reporting magazine has seen documents establishing the link between Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the apparently powerful lobby.
Gun owners associations such as the German DSB and the Austrian IWÖ suggest the new regulation adds red tape but no protection, since terrorists’ guns are purchased in the black market. Their views are reflected in the views of at least two Members of the European Parliament.
Der Spiegel makes specific reference to MEP Hermann Winkler, who wrote to the German Shooting and Archery Federation (DSB) last June to reassure them the directive would not disrupt their “social activity.” DW names Andreas Schwab, suggesting that the problem is really the black market for weapons rather than legal semi-automatics; Schwab denies being directly lobbied by weapons associations.
The European Commission has not commented on whether or not it is being directly lobbied, DW reports.
That legal weapons are not a danger to the general public is not entirely true.
Anti-gun campaigners point to the fact that Anders Breivik who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011 had bought all his weapons legally. School shooting assailants in Erfurt (2002) and Winnenden (2009) also used legally owned weapons.
Tighter regulation could still be implemented.
One thought is introducing “smart” guns that can be unlocked only with the thumbprint of their legal owners. These biometric locks could prevent the legal market feeding the black market. Another measure under consideration is making storing ammunition at home illegal.