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Firearms United Conference in Brussels on Wednesday 16th November

posted 21 Nov 2016, 15:49 by Tony Cattermole   [ updated 21 Nov 2016, 15:49 ]
The following is a brief summary of the Conference in Brussels on 16th November plus a link that will take you to the video of the event.

The Commission document is a rather repetitive negative summary which we have not included.

The firearms community continues to work on the Directive in co-operation. Firearms United has grown rapidly from a media based entity and now has a more formal structure. They have supported work to rectify the Directive and indeed FESAC’s lobbying efforts with cash contributions. FESAC Chairman Stephen Petroni’s comments feature on their website. Members who wish to see more will find it shown on the website:- firearms-united.com. They are also looking for modest contributions for their “fighting fund”.

Our own work in collaboration with BSSC continues.

Derek Stimpson

Firearms United Conference in Brussels on Wednesday 16th November.
For those of you who did not have the opportunity to participate: the conference proceedings can be watched through this link: http://web.events.streamovations.be/index.php/event/stream/ecr-16112016. Note particularly the contributions by Alain Alexis (Commission) and Vicky Ford (rapporteur).

Vicky Ford reported from the third informal trilogue meeting, which was held Tuesday evening. She said that progress was being made and underlined the similarities between the Council and EP positions. The next meeting is planned for 5 December.

On deactivation V. Ford stated that there is a clear understanding between the Council and the EP that a workable standard needs to be developed and that last year’s regulation is problematic in this respect. There was agreement that firearms that were deactivated before 1 April 2016 should continue to be allowed for keeping and trading if they live up to equivalent national deactivation standards (the Commission will evaluate this on a case-by-case basis).

On semiautomatic firearms, V. Ford underlined that the Council and EP agree on the model of prohibiting the combination of semiautomatic firearms and high capacity magazines. V. Ford stressed the importance of workable exemptions and stated that Mr. Alexis (Commission) was tasked to resolve this issue.

On the A6 firearms, V. Ford stated that further discussion was necessary. There is agreement on the grandfathering clause.

On medical tests there appears to be agreement that it should be left to the individual member states to develop a system. Also, there should be no differences in the systems applied to different groups of users.

Mr Alexis spoke out against conversion standards as a solution for illegal reconversion because criminals prefer semi-automatic firearms (!!).

On the day of the conference, the Commission published its "Second Progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union". In this document, the Commission briefly addresses the progress of the trilogue negotiations and expresses its expectation that the negotiations can end in an agreement by the end of the year (this is doubted by other stakeholders – there are very mixed messages):

"Following two trilogue meetings, the co-legislators were still unable to agree on the revision of the Firearms Directive. These negotiations must be unblocked to take military grade assault weapons off the streets including those converted to semi-automatic use. The Commission's position is clear that semi-automatic assault weapons derived from the "AK 47 Kalashnikov family" and the "AR 15 family" should be banned for civilian use given that they were designed for military use. Magazine sizes for short and long firearms should be limited to 10 rounds and should be subject to authorisation and stringent checks and any derogation should be strictly limited and tightly controlled. EU citizens expect swift progress in this area to ensure their protection, so we must reach agreement before the end of 2016 on this key piece of legislation. In parallel, the Commission will launch a renewed push to clamp down on the illegal firearms trade including at the EU/Western Balkans Justice and Home Affairs Ministers' Conference on 15-16 December."

It is also clear that the Commission focuses on semi-automatics with large (10+) magazines, and that they are supporting the Council proposal.

All in all, we seem to be heading towards agreement on:
- The Council model concerning semiautomatic firearms (prohibition of combination of semiautomatic firearms and magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds plus a prohibition of all magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds, with exceptions)
- The EP model for medical review, i.e. a national monitoring system where it is left to the member states to decide what information should be included
- Marking: all essential components.
It seems highly relevant to continue the work with all relevant partners, including the Commission’s work on deactivation and exemptions.