Revision of the Firearms Directive: The EP votes in Plenary
On Tuesday 14 March, 2017 the European Parliament meeting in Plenary in Strasbourg voted on the Provisional Agreement reached in December following the Trilogues. The rejection of the Commission Proposal, as proposed by the right-wing groups ENF and EFDD, as well as amendments proposed by the liberals (ALDE) and a grouping of MEPs from most of the political groups with the intention of improving the text failed to make it through:
AM 109 (ENF) & AM 123 (EFDD)
Rejection of the Commission proposal
- For: 123
- Against: 562
- Abstentions: 14
AM 107 (Committee)
Approval of Provisional Agreement
- For: 491
- Against: 178
- Abstentions: 28
The contentions nature of this file is reflected by the fact that 30% of all the MEPs present for the vote did not approve the Provisional Agreement. This is a significant amount.
While we legal firearm owners are not satisfied with the result, the Commission lost its ill-conceived bid to confiscate legally-held firearms used in sport shooting, hunting, collecting and other legitimate activities. It lost its crazed attempt to destroy historical firearms in museums and private collections. It lost all this in spite of breaking its own rules to achieve its aims, slandering law-abiding citizens, lying consistently and presenting false statistical data.
The Commission lost because legal firearm owners from all over Europe came together to support their representatives and sensible MEPs in defending their civil liberties. The team of dedicated representatives from various sectors lobbied and negotiated incessantly with Brussels over the past fifteen months. Our president Stephen A. Petroni played a leading role in this fight against the Commission’s notorious proposal. He also chairs the Foundation for European Societies of Arms Collectors (FESAC) and has recently been re-elected chair of the European Sports Shooting Forum (ESSF). AMACS is grateful to its members and all Maltese enthusiasts who answered its call to action and contributed to bring about this victory which was achieved against all odds.
Nevertheless the European Parliament failed law-abiding firearm owners by not being bold enough to consign this legislative mess to the rubbish bin where it belonged from the start. This was in fact the first option that Rapporteur Vicky Ford put to the vote in IMCO but which was rejected by the mainstream parties. It also failed our community by not voting in amendments required to remove serious pitfalls that will come to haunt legal firearm owners and national authorities alike in the future.
While we salute those MEPs who defended our community right to the end, among whom Czech MEP Dita Charanzova (ALDE) stood out, we should also bear in mind that many MEPs, including our Maltese representatives in the European Parliament, genuinely feared that were the Provisional Agreement not approved in the first reading, any change in the text of the Provisional Agreement could have resulted in a second reading in which the Council would have a greater say and Parliament a lesser one, possibly leading to a far more restrictive Directive. Thus we should refrain from accusing MEPs who did not vote for the amendments in the belief that this was for our own good. If anything, the circumstances illustrate all that is wrong in the EU’s structure and practices and how MEPs are forced to make difficult decisions because of its unduly complex and undemocratic legislative process. They are as much victims of the system as the citizens who are forced to abide by its rulings.
However the biggest loser in this entire process has been the EU itself and its credibility with millions of honest citizens who will neither forget nor forgive it for the way it has treated them. How can anyone trust an institution that turned on its own citizens in the name of security and which proposed the destruction of historical heritage? Our stand is a clear message of the resolve with which our community will defend its rights and civil liberties as well its mission to protect historical firearms from insane acts of institutionalised vandalism.
The fight is far from over. We are now determined to ensure that our member state authorities implement the Directive in the least restrictive way within the next fifteen months. Thanks to our persistence, the amended will not endanger legally-held firearms and local licensees who possess them, who shall also be permitted to acquire and use firearms under added administrative burdens.
This conclusion is a testimony to the robust nature of our Arms Act and Arms Licensing Regulations that AMACS proposed and lobbied for in the years prior to 2006.