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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

EU Rushes Gun Control Plan After Paris Attacks

(CN) - In the wake of terror attacks in Paris that killed 129 and left hundreds injured, the European Commission on Wednesday delivered a sweeping gun-control package aimed at harmonizing rules across all 28 member states.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - ISIL - has claimed responsibility for the attacks, France's worst since World War II and the deadliest since the Madrid train bombings in 2004.

Although the commission has been working on tightening and harmonizing gun control in the EU since April, the agency said work on the proposals was "significantly accelerated in light of recent events."

The package includes a revision of EU firearms law to tighten controls on the purchase and possession of guns. It also adds a ban on some semiautomatic weapons, tighter rules for Internet gun purchases and mandates EU-wide information exchanges when member states deny gun permits to individuals.

Additionally, the commission's plan sets out strict rules for member states to deactivate weapons so that they are rendered inoperable. Possession of the most dangerous types of guns - deactivated or not - will be prohibited, the commission said.

Meanwhile, the commission will also begin work on a system to stop illegal weapons and explosives trafficking, including illegal purchases on the black market and from ex-war zones like the Balkan nations of Bosnia and Serbia.

"The recent terrorist attacks on Europe's people and values were coordinated across borders, showing that we must work together to resist these threats," commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement. "Today's proposal will help us tackle the threat of weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. We are proposing stricter controls on sale and registration of firearms, and stronger rules to irrevocably deactivate weapons.

"We will also come forward with an action plan in the near future to tackle illicit arms trafficking. Organized criminals accessing and trading military-grade firearms in Europe cannot and will not be tolerated."

Commissioners Elzbieta Bienkowska and Dimitris Avramopoulos stressed the need for harmonized rules across the 28 member states in a joint statement.

"The adoption of the firearms package today is proof of the commission's determination to address the new reality we are confronted with. We need to remove regulatory divergences across the EU by imposing stricter, harmonized EU standards for firearms and ensuring efficient exchange of information between member states," they said.

The commission's package must pass both the European Parliament and the EU Council before it can take effect.

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