The right of the EU citizens to possess and carry weapons
What this is about:
The right to acquire possess and carry firearms as the entitlement of all upstanding and eligible citizens of the EU.
Defining the maximum requirements for a citizen as a Union standard.
What we want to achieve:
The institutions and EU member states should have the obligation to ensure that all upstanding and eligible citizens have access to firearms. The legal criteria may only require:
- Verification of mental and physical fitness;
- Verification of the knowledge of the applicable legislation governing the handling of weapons;
- Verification of the knowledge of the legislation governing the protection of persons and property;
- Verification of the theoretical and practical skills for handling a weapon.
In the context of the increasing number of terrorist attacks in the territories of the EU countries, the draft amendment to Council Directive 91/477/EEC focuses on making the registration and the monitoring of firearms stricter. It is obvious that one of the main objectives of the proposed amendment is to increase the security of the EU citizens and the public. We believe that it is only possible to achieve such objective through a combination of measures consisting not only of thorough registration and monitoring of weapon handling but also in establishment of an all-European standard guaranteeing the right for upstanding citizens of the EU to possess and carry a firearm regardless of what member state’s territory the citizen is currently found in. The goal should also be to harmonise national legislations so that there are no groundless disproportions among the rights of the citizens of the individual EU member states with regard to the regulation of possession and carrying of weapons.
Thus, the goal of the proposed citizens’ initiative is particularly to initiate adoption of another amendment to the directive or adoption of another suitable legal instrument on the level of the EU, which will result in removing barriers to the free movement of persons and goods within the EU, which still persist in this field. One of the possible instruments is to legislatively define the requirements of the member states for entry of an EU citizen from another member state with a weapon and to have compliance with such requirements proven by possession of a European firearms licence without major administrative obstructions, which some member states use to effectively restrict legal possession and carrying of firearms. For example, flexible rules should be defined for obtaining a European firearms licence, which would make it possible to travel to another member state with a legally held firearm without prior permission of the destination country even for persons holding a weapon for their personal protection (i.e. not only for hunters and sports shooters).
With regard to the proposed goal, it is obvious that the legislation is of a cross-border nature and has an impact on national legislation due to the need to harmonise the standards for the rules governing the possession and carrying of weapons, and therefore it is appropriate to address this issue through a legislative initiative at the level of the EU.
The above is supported by Articles 26-29 and 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; Articles 6, 17 and 45 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2012/C 326/02) because adoption of the necessary legislative change would result in eliminating the still existing barriers to the free movement of persons and services. At the same time, the legislative change would be a manifestation of the fundamental right and freedom of an individual to defend self-sufficiently his or her health and life as well as the health and lives of other persons. Only a combination of strict control of the handling of firearms and creation of a single and comprehensible minimum legal framework at the level of the EU, guaranteeing the right to possess and carry a weapon for one’s protection, can lead to reduction of the risks arising for the EU citizens from terrorist attacks, which are difficult to expose before the fact.
Defence of persons and property is the right of every EU citizen
What this is about:
Self-sufficient defence of persons and property as the right of every EU citizen.
An assault on a person or property must be disadvantageous for the assailant; the legal protection of the assailant must be weaker than the protection of the defender.
What we want to achieve:
The EU institutions and member states should have the obligation to ensure that everyone has the possibility to defend themselves, their loved ones or their property on their own against an unauthorised action in any manner and by any means. An individual deliberately attacking someone else’s property must understand that he or she bears the risk of all the negative consequences of such behaviour.
The terrorist attacks in the territory of the EU put its member states in a new situation, to which it is necessary to respond through a suitable combination of both practical and legislative measures. The presenters of this ECI hold the opinion that self-sufficiency in the form of taking an action against an assailant within necessary defence or in extreme emergency is, in addition to the action of security forces, an effective and integral part of defence against terrorist and “common” criminal attacks on the health or property of people. An immediate action of the police or the army is more a matter of coincidence; in the overwhelming majority of cases, security forces logically respond with a delay, depending on a number of factors: the time when the attack was reported, the distance they have to travel, etc.
Necessary self-defence is an instrument, which can effectively reduce the harmful consequences of crimes or acts of terrorism in crisis situations, provided that the legislator created suitable conditions for such defence. The intention of this ECI is not to replace the activities of security forces with some sort of vigilantism. The goal is to create a clear legal framework – a standard that would provide every person residing in the area of the EU with legal certainty that if the person defends their health and property or the health and property of others, they can do so with impunity subject to conditions, which are the same in every EU member state. The authors of the proposal leave aside the consequences of occasions on which such framework is exceeded; it is desirable to leave this to national jurisdictions but it should always be taken into account that a citizen defending a person or property is almost always not a professional, and therefore such citizen almost always acts under stress and in panic so the risks associated with an attack on a person or property should be ascribed to the aggressor. It is the aggressor who infringes upon the fundamental rights and freedoms of a citizen; particularly the right to life and the right to property, guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, and therefore aggressor is the one who should bear the negative consequences of their actions.
With regard to the proposed goal, it is obvious that the legislation has an all-European nature with an impact on the national legislations of the member states, i.e. this involves standardising the national legislations governing the necessary self-defence and extreme emergency, and this is why it is appropriate to address this issue in the form of a legislative initiation at the level of the EU. As mentioned above, the desirable result of such legislation is the knowledge of a citizen that they can take action against an aggressor in the same way, regardless of the EU state, in which the citizen is forced to take such action.