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European Law Monitor newsMEP's tighten up EU rules on gun ownership  

New measures to tighten up gun controls, including restricting their sale over the web, were demanded by the Internal Market Committee on 27 June. In a co-decision report, MEPs call for information on guns, including imports from third countries, to be stored in national databases for 20 years, and shared among Member States. Member States would be expected to report back to Parliament, as well as the Commission, on measures giving effect to this law.

The report, drafted by Gisela Kallenbach (Greens/EFA, DE) broadly endorses a Commission proposal to update the EU's 1991 directive on the acquisition and possession of weapons, so as to bring it into line with a UN Protocol against the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms, signed by the EC in 2001. This proposal includes an obligation to treat illicit manufacturing and trafficking as intentional criminal offences, as well as technical measures to do with the deactivation of firearms, the obligation to mark them, and how long firearm data must be kept in registers.

Details on file for 20 years

But MEPs say that Member States should also maintain "a computerised and centralised data filing system", including the identification numbers of each firearm subject to the directive. Furthermore, whereas the Commission had proposed that such data   (type, make, model, calibre, etc.) be kept in registers for 10 years (the minimum required under the UN Protocol), MEPs feel that it should be "for not less than 20 years", given the very long lifespan of firearms.
The Committee also voted that the directive should apply to "parts and ammunition of firearms, including those imported from third countries" and cover "selling by means of distance communications" (e.g. via the internet), which should be "strictly controlled" by Member States.

Data exchange

The Committee also proposed that Member States exchange information relating to marking systems and techniques, transfers of firearms, national legislation and practices, existing stocks on their territories, confiscated firearms and deactivation methods.
Lastly - in the interest of better regulation and enhanced transparency - the Committee adopted an innovative provision, which would require Member States to inform the European Parliament (and not just the Commission) of measures they take to implement the directive. They also passed an amendment that would require the Commission to report on the impact of the directive every five years.
The report, adopted unanimously in committee, will be put to a plenary vote in September.

Reproduced with the permission of the European Parliament REF 20070625IPR08236