The Czech Republic took legal action against the European Union’s plans to restrict gun ownership in member states.
The European Parliament passed a new directive to limit access to semi-automatic weapons earlier this year in response to terrorism, despite the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Poland voicing opposition. The Czech Republic has simultaneously moved to make guns more accessible for the very same reason.
Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec argues the new EU directive is too harsh and that it threatens the internal security of member states.
The Czech Interior Ministry said the directive was too harsh, affecting for example thousands of hunters – a popular activity with a long tradition in the central European country.
The directive bans long and short-barrelled semi-automatic firearms with larger magazines, those with foldable stocks, and those converted from fully-automatic weapons. It requires the registration of some decommissioned weapons and historical replicas.
“Such a massive punishment of decent arms holders is unacceptable, because banning legally-held weapons has no connection with the fight against terrorism,” Chovanec said in a statement regarding the lawsuit, Reuters reported Wednesday.
“This is not only a nonsensical decision once again undermining people’s trust in the EU, but implementing the directive could also have a negative impact on the internal security of the Czech Republic, because a large number of weapons could move to the black market.”
The lower chamber of the Czech parliament voted to put gun owners’ rights in the constitution in June. President Milos Zeman previously supported more restrictions on guns in the country but had a change of heart after a series of terror attacks across Europe.
“Earlier I spoke against possession of large amounts of weapons [in the hands of the people],” Zeman said in an interview with newspaper Blesk in July, 2016.
“After those attacks, I do not think so any more.”
There are more than 800,000 firearms of all categories registered among 300,000 gun permit holders in the Czech Republic, which has a population of 10.6 million.