Fieldsports organisations are urging shooters to respond to a Europeanwide consultation on the harm caused by the criminal use of fi rearms in the EU.
The consultation is considered biased and there are fears that the results could be used further to restrict legal gun ownership across the EU.
BASC is concerned that the results will be used to “gain legitimacy from ‘public opinion’ to restrict further the legal acquisition and possession of civilian firearms”.
In a statement, it said there “is no link between the legal ownership of firearms and illicit trafficking of firearms”, as might be implied by some of the questions. These questions include: “to what extent should the EU establish common rules for the authorisation of persons to produce and/or sell firearms?”; “to what extent should the EU establish stricter rules on who may be authorised to possess a firearm (eg on basis of age, mental health, or possession of a criminal record)?”; and “to what extent should the EU seek to control the sale and possession of ammunition as well as firearms?”
A BASC spokesman told Shooting Times: “This is one of the most biased questionnaires we have seen and we are concerned that the results will be used by the European Commission to propose new restrictions on the legal use of firearms.
To stop that happening we would urge all shooters to complete the online questionnaire by clicking option 1 for every question.”
Countryside Alliance executive chairman Sir Barney White- Spunner told members: “It makes absolutely no sense for the European Commission to contemplate a one-size-fits-all firearms licensing system for Europe. National governments are best placed to deal with these and I encourage everyone with an interest in shooting, including their family and friends, to respond to this consultation.”
The Gun Trade Association is also urging members to respond.
A spokesman told Shooting Times: “We are as concerned as the other shooting organisations and are acting in accord with them.
We have sent out the questionnaire to our members, and have reminded them that they are obliged to respond as robustly as possible in order to defend shooting as a sport and the gun trade.”
The British Shooting Sports Council (BSSC) also responded by saying that the consultation “is to obtain some appearance of legitimacy for further restrictions on the legal ownership, use and acquisition of firearms by civilians”.
The BSSC also has advised shooters to answer every question with option 1.
“If the majority of responses are supportive of our interests, it would be difficult for the Commission to use public opinion as a reason for seeking further restrictions,” it said.
It agrees with BASC that many of the questions are biased, saying that they are “written in a way that seeks to predetermine the response and push the respondent into agreeing that some EU action is needed, even though national legislation on all issues addressed in the questions already exists”.
The European Federation of Hunting Associations (FACE) told Shooting Times: “The results of this European-wide public consultation are expected to be an integral tool in any future developments regarding firearms in the EU.”
“It is absolutely essential that all shooters respond to the questionnaire to ensure that the results include the informed and experienced views of the largest group of legal firearms users in the EU.”
The deadline for replies is 17 June.
To see the questionnaire visit: bit.ly/Y8J3FO
EU firearms consultation biased and harmful