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With the adoption of the European Commission’s proposal for compulsory and complete marking of firearms, the EU Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs have given the green light to reinforce the fight against organized crime and firearms trafficking

The new measures will extend the duration for record-keeping for data on firearms and ban the purchase of firearms by persons under the age of eighteen. This directive will ensure that traceability for all firearms is strengthened and rules for the acquisition and possession of them will be more rigorous. These requirements will also apply to converted weapons. The measures will align the pre-existing directive 91/477 on firearms with the so-called “United Nations Firearms Protocol” to which the Community acceded in 2001, opening the way towards its ratification. The Directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal. Member States will need to adapt their relevant national legislation within two years following this publication. The approval of the Member States follows a positive vote in the European Parliament last year.

The directive aims to complete the existing Directive 91/477/EC which was an accompanying measure of the Internal Market. The revised Directive will create a balance between a certain freedom of movement for civil firearms within the EU and the need to control and trace their circulation. Its main elements are as follows:

– The obligation to mark firearms at the time of manufacture with references to identification particulars is reinforced
– It is obligatory to mark firearms when they are transferred from government stocks to permanent civil use
– Each Member State has to set up a computerized data filing system, centralized or decentralized, which will maintain data on firearms for a minimum of twenty years
– The measures also applies to converted firearms, which are explicitly assimilated to firearms
– The conditions of use of firearms by persons less than 18 years old will be strictly controlled and the purchase of firearms by minors is forbidden
– The proper use and recognition of the European Firearms Pass inside the EU will be guaranteed
– The Commission will carry out studies on firearms replicas, and on possible simplification of measures on firearms classification of firearms, as well as on guidelines on deactivation of firearms.

Press room – European Commission
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DG Enterprise and Industry
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EurActiv Network