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European firearms legislation changes “could damage shooting” in Britain

Shooting groups fear that European efforts to fight firearms trafficking could open the door to an attack on British shooting, while another challenge to lead shot appears

shooter with pheasants

Countryside organisations have warned that revisions to EU firearms legislation could lead to shooting being hamstrung by those opposed to the sport.

The European Council earlier this month recommended that the European Commission revise the 1991 Firearms Directive to combat the illegal movement of firearms, and it is thought that British shooters could be affected as a result.

Improve the sharing of information on firearms

The revisions are intended to strengthen the firearms legislative framework, for example to improve the sharing of information on firearms and reinforce their traceability.

The Council also called on Europol to “closely monitor the threat posed by firearms” and for the Commission to submit a strong minimum standard for the deactivation of firearms by the end of the year. BASC has suggested that the revision will take place by the beginning of 2016 at the latest.

BASC and Countryside Alliance voice caution

BASC and the Countryside Alliance are among those organisations that have voiced caution at the planned revisions, which some believe could open the door to an attack on British shooting sports. Peter Glenser, a BASC Council member, and barrister practising in firearms law, said: “BASC supports efforts to combat illegal trafficking of firearms, but this is a complex area of the law.

Damaging to legitimate shooting sports

“The danger of reopening the directive is that amendments could be moved that would be damaging to legitimate shooting sports. These can be malicious and sponsored by those who wish to damage shooting. There can also be proposals which, through ignorance, damage legitimate shooting while trying to improve the law.

“BASC will be vigilant and ensure that legitimate shooting in the UK is not damaged by this move.”

Adrian Blackmore, the Countryside Alliance’s director of shooting, commented: “[It is] increasingly likely that the European Commission will re-open the 1991 Firearms Directive in an attempt to help fight the illegal trafficking of firearms into and within the EU. The proposals are expected to include the improved sharing of information on firearms, reinforcing their traceability, standardising marking, and introducing appropriate standards for the deactivation of firearms amongst member states.”

Adrian continued: “Throughout the process, the Countryside Alliance’s firearms team will be working with the European Federation of Associations of Hunting and Conservation in order to make sure that the Commission stays focused on those areas designed to reduce illegal trafficking, and without impeding those firearms legally held by UK licence holders.”

Restriction dossier for metallic lead

In other European news, the European Chemicals Agency has been asked by Directorate- General (DG) Growth and DG Environment to prepare a restriction dossier for metallic lead.

While any impact this will have on lead ammunition is unclear, BASC says it will represent the interests of shooters as the situation develops.