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[EAA] Statement on EU draft Firearms Directive

  • 27-11-2015 9:04pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    https://www.facebook.com/europeanairsoft/posts/982921925098392:0

    The European Airsoft Association published this statement today. Please read it, it's important. I've bolded the critical bit.

    (Note, as of this morning there were >170,000 comments on the EU website, and several governments are opposed.)
    Halt the EU attack on Replicas!

    Please watch this video for a short summary of the situation.
    https://youtu.be/dxrhkFqunBM

    Here’s the full explanation;

    For many years The European Airsoft Association has been concerned that a European directive could damage or even ban airsoft. Once implemented, all EU member states are obliged to put regulations into local law. At that point it’s too late, you cannot stop it in your own country. Unless we act, this exact scenario could happen very soon.

    An anti-firearms group within the EC has published a proposal which primarily aims to get rid of all semi auto live firearms and most deactivated firearms. They are playing on people fears after the horrible terrorist attacks of the last year, but this is a cynical excuse for them to pursue a pre-existing agenda. The terrorist attacks have been carried out with illegally held weapons that have mostly come from military armouries via armed conflicts in the Balkans. These events are not connected to civilian firearms or to replica firearms either.

    Although they present no argument against the current status of non-convertible replica weapons in the paper they throw in this subtle, yet devastating change to the classification of replicas-

    (iii) In Category C, the following points are added: "5. Alarm and signal weapons, salute and acoustic weapons as well as replicas
    This would mean that all replicas in Europe would become ‘firearms subject to declaration’.

    This would mean the following changes (subject to local laws);
    • All replicas would need to be registered
    • You would need to apply for permission to own a replica and would likely be subject to checks and licencing
    • All replicas would be allocated a serial number
    • You would require a European firearms pass to take replicas to a foreign country
    • Internet sales would be banned (as the proposal also puts forward a ban on remote sales for all firearms).

    We believe this change will be impractical, extremely hard (probably impossible) and expensive to implement, take resources and focus away from criminals and terrorism, will ruin a thriving airsoft retail industry and will not make citizens safer at all. As you may be aware, a worrying historic occurrence in some European countries has been forcing the register of firearms as a precursor to a ban and confiscation.

    Here’s what you can do to prevent this-
    1. Share this news story. Get the word out to your airsoft friends and contacts. Translate it into your native language. Use the hash tag ‪#‎airsoftineurope‬
    2. Fill out the feedback form for the proposal. https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/…
    3. Email your MEP. Tell them why they need to vote against this proposal!
    4. Email a member of SEDE (EU Subcommittee on Security and Defence) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committe…/…/sede/members.html…

    Please stick to these rules-
    • BE NICE! We want to win them over to our point of view, not make them see us as angry, unpleasant or single minded! Most MEPs won’t even be aware of the change affecting replicas, or the consequences of the change.
    • STICK TO THE POINT. Tell them that non-convertible replicas should not be classified as firearms by being added to Category C of directive 91/477/EEC
    • TALK ABOUT YOU. Tell them about how the changes will hurt you and your friends, your industry, your hobby. Talk from a personal perspective.
    • FEED BACK THE RESPONSES. Forward all responses you get to me, furey_x (at) yahoo.co.uk . We need to know how MEPs feel about this paper.

    I am building a database of the airsoft allies and supporters.
    This amendment is being fast tracked (they are even going to skip the normal Economic Impact Assessment) and could be voted through in a very short space of time, so you need to act as soon as you read this (if you haven’t already).

    Airsoft players should also stand with their cousins in the live firearms and deactivated firearms communities, they will also have their hobbies destroyed when none of us have any connection to recent events. Together with them, it is possible to act as a huge grass roots body and put down this ridiculous proposal. The EAA will also be lobbying the EC directly so like our FB page and we will keep you up to date with any new information.

    Matt Furey-King, President European Airsoft Association

    Sources-
    Proposal for a directive of the European parliament and of the council amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons
    https://ec.europa.eu/…/regdoc/rep/1/2015/EN/1-2015-750-EN-F…
    Council directive (91 /477/EEC) (specifically, annex 1, Category C — Firearms subject to declaration)
    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/…


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,765 ✭✭✭ Stercus Accidit


    Thanks, I sent some e-mails to MEPs and submitted my feedback on the proposed directive. I wonder how the Gardai would feel about the burden of registration of what are effectively harmless replicas, when they already have all the legal tools they need to prosecute their abuse?

    My heart goes out to those affected by the recent attacks, but this directive is not a part of a good response.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    This directive (actually a new Implementation Regulation about deacs and an update to the existing Firearms Directive) is a partial response to the Charlie Hebdo attack. It's led by a certain lobby which thinks that "all guns are bad". The last time they tried this the attempt got bogged down in the EU legislative machinery and was long-fingered. The Charlie Hebdo attack gave some Commissioners the excuse to try again, using the update process.

    I assume the ordinary Guards on the street will sigh and realise it's just another unecessary load of rubbish dumped on them which they have to deal with. Unfortunately we have a Garda Commissioner who will do what the Minister tells her... unlike the Chief Constable in NI who recently told a Minister up there to wind his neck in and leave the enforcement of the law to the PSNI. That would never happen here.

    The problem for us is that if implemented it will be transposed (badly, as usual) and it would make RIFs subject to the 3-year, 80 euro license requirment like a real firearm. I think there's very little chance, with all that tax available, that they would leave RIFs subject to a Superintendent's Authorisation Letter. Either way, they'd all have to be registered and serialised.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    Commentary on the proposed changes from a Czech lawyer.

    https://euobserver.com/opinion/131339

    I don't agree with everything he says, and some of it doesn't apply in Ireland, but he makes some good points.
    It is now known that the firearms the Paris terrorists used were illegal, being either smuggled in from active or past warzones, or illegally reconditioned from insufficiently decommissioned weapons.

    Yet, the proposal doesn’t aim at these two sources of illegal firearms.

    From an outright ban on semi-automatic rifles “resembling” military assault rifles, the obligatory decommissioning of museum-owned guns, to imposing firearm rules on airsoft replicas, the commission’s proposal only impairs the rights of law-abiding citizens.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,084 nastros


    I would say there is very little he says there that doesn't apply. You can own semi-auto rifles here which if this comes in will be banned outright.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    If this draft passes as it's currently written it will reclassify every airsoft device in Europe as a Category C firearm, purely on the basis of appearance.

    EU Directives on Firearms are minimum standards. If the Directive reclassifies airsoft devices as Category C, that overrules the Irish definition of not-a-firearm-if-under-1J.

    In the Irish Context that means every device will require:

    (If I might paraphrase Sparks for a minute...)
    Get and fill in an FCA1 (application form) along with:
    • Letter of sale from dealer with "firearm" details
    • Photos x 2
    • Referees to vouch for your character x 2
    • Medical details
    • Range/site details including membership number and copy of membership card
    • Separate sheet of paper with an explanation as to why you want this "firearm" plus explanations for a mod (silencer) if you choose to get one [assuming that "Playing Airsoft" will be accepted as a Good Reason under the law]
    • All secure acomodation requirements (gun safe) in place as there is a box you must tick to say you have them in place.

    Plus your 80 euro - every three years. For each device.

    Oh, and everything, including major parts, will have to be serialised under Directive 2008/51/EC. Nobody has explained how this will be done.

    Unless the Irish legislation is substantially rewritten, you'll also need a monitored alarm with GSM backup if you have more than 1 or 2 devices.

    If I'm wrong about this - and I hope to god I am - somebody please point out the flaw in my reading.

    Site Owners and Retailers: What do you think this will do to your business?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,084 nastros


    Pretty accurate but the reclassification would actually likely put them in the restricted firearm category like crossbows I would say. Which means you would need the GSM alarm from the outright.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    Yeah, I only remembered afterwards that our Deadly Black Plastic 11-round Magazines automatically puts us into "Restricted" territory under Irish law.

    That shows even more how stupid these proposals are... and they don't even solve the problems the Commission is using to justify them.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,643 MRnotlob606


    I think this is an exaggerated "moral panic". Anybody who's seen the film "Bowling for Colombine" will know how certain things like games and music are used as scapegoats to explain why massacres happen.

    I think Airsoft is no different in this regard.


  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 5,042 Mod ✭✭✭✭ spooky donkey


    and Ireland being Ireland, imagine the cost of holding a licence for an airsoft gun, each and every gun you own, another chance for the rip off / nanny state to get us...


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,084 nastros


    Ya it would be 80 quid per airsoft gun every 3 years. The number I have at home that would cost me a fair bit.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    So as an example (and my collection is on the small-to-medium size compared to some folks I know):

    2x AEG = 160
    2x bolt-action = 160
    2x GBB pistol = 160
    1x SMG = 80
    1x grenade launcher = 80
    2x Thunder B = 160
    1x gun safe = 200?
    1x monitored alarm = 400-500?

    So that's up to 1,500 euro in the first year, and 800 every 3 years afterwards. And that's if the local Super grants the licenses.

    Thunder Bs and BFGs will also be caught as they could be defined as "accoustic weapons". Zoxnas and Tornados... who knows?

    Just to show how stupidly this draft is written, "accoustic weapons" could also cover rape alarms.

    And did anyone mention that if your local Super doesn't like the look of your AK or GL-06, you could have severe difficulty getting a license? Or if s/he thinks you have too many M4s already? Or if s/he thinks that your fancy silencer moderator supressor is a danger to public safety?

    Does anyone think our sport would survive this draft?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,084 nastros


    Not a chance people wouldn't be able to afford it and remember as well that anyone under 16 or 18 will have to get a parent to get license and they will have to get training certs.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,040 ✭✭✭ Southern Dandy


    Logistically this would be a massive undertaking if it will come to pass. Serialisaton of every airsoft replica, I would imagine the importation of certain upgrades ie: Slides, recievers would be affected as these make the shape/body of a RIF, proof of ownership use blah blah. Accesories id imagine would be unaffected. But for a retailer, site owner a bloody nightmare. Then you are creating another firearm ownership nightmare, unregistered firearms! If this is how they are to be classified.

    European implentation of this would cost a small fortune and ultimately will not change a thing as to why it was brought in in the first place.

    Sorry but Airsoft replicas used in "Terrorist attacks" would make it easier for people to sleep at night as they do no harm. Yeah, sure a muppet can pull out a RIF and it would scare the living **** out of someone and be used for various criminal acts, the same muppet can go into hardware store and purchase a variety of craft knives, hammers, you get the idea and to be blunt about it maim or kill a person!

    Sooooo I declare bolllox to it all! Just my two cents!


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,040 ✭✭✭ Southern Dandy


    On a funny note...I'm delighted not to be following people right now:

    Deburca
    Rook1
    DarthPhoenix
    Thermo
    Horse84

    Because if this does come in...you are collectively fuccccccked with the amount of replicas ye own individually.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    There's a back-of-an-envelope estimate I heard that there may be something like 50,000 airsoft guns in the country.

    Those fine gentlemen above probably own a quarter of them.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 13,447 Mod ✭✭✭✭ thermo


    OzCam wrote: »
    There's a back-of-an-envelope estimate I heard that there may be something like 50,000 airsoft guns in the country.

    Those fine gentlemen above probably own a quarter of them.

    And that's before we even start to look at my R/S collection...........


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    OzCam wrote: »
    Thunder Bs and BFGs will also be caught as they could be defined as "accoustic weapons". Zoxnas and Tornados... who knows?

    Just to show how stupidly this draft is written, "accoustic weapons" could also cover rape alarms.

    Correction:

    BFGs will almost certainly be reclassified as Cat C under this draft. The others are a matter of argument.

    "Accoustic Weapons" refers to blank firing pistols. Apparently very popular in Germany.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    Well, the Germans responded to the draft the other day (I paraphrase):

    1. Classifying things as firearms based on their appearance is a stupid idea,
    2. Go away and have another think about updates to the Directive,
    3. When you've come up with something useful, come back to us in two years or so. There's a lot of other, more important, stuff on the plate.
    This is pretty good news. Germany has the votes to stop this draft in its tracks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    I used contact.ie to send a letter to Irish MEPs late last night, objecting to the plan to reclassify replicas (all replicas, not just airsoft) as Cat. C, and pointing out that while there are firearms changes that need to be made in Europe, this draft won't help make anyone more secure as it's so ill-conceived.

    I also mentioned that many of the other devices mentioned are already treated as firearms in Ireland.

    I got a reply at 11:07 this morning from Brian Crowley (Ireland South, ECR) which also mentioned concerns of hunters/shooters etc.

    At least he's on the ball, and he seems to be listening.


    My letter was a localised version of the model letter from Matt Furey-King of the EAA. It's a bit long and I'd have liked to polish it a bit more and tighten it up. But it was very late last night and I wanted to get it away. So, here it is, in case anyone would find it useful.
    Please don't destroy my sport

    A Chara,

    I would like to raise my concerns regarding the recent proposal to amend 91/477/EC, more usually known as the Firearms Directive.

    Specifically, Proposal COM(2015)750/F1, where on Page 17 it states:

    (13) in Annex I to Directive 91/477/EC part II is amended as follows:
    (a) point A is amended as follows:
    .........
    (iii) In Category C, the following points are added:
    "5. Alarm and signal weapons, salute and acoustic weapons as well as replicas;"


    I am a hobbyist who enjoys 'airsoft' events, in which opposing teams compete in skirmish scenarios. These events require the use of low powered Realistic Imitation Firearms. Under Irish law, these replicas must have a muzzle energy of no more than 1 joule; that level is provably safe, i.e. has been proven to be incapable of causing any more than a trivial injury. This limit applies to all airsoft devices, regardless of appearance or construction. Airsoft events are a commonplace, well-regulated and sometimes physically demanding team activity with many positives for both the individual and society. In the Irish context, it is also a cross-border activity.

    The sport of airsoft in Ireland has a seven year history of inclusivity, welcoming players of both genders, differing cultures & languages, various fitness levels and many with mental or physical disabilities. There is also an industry surrounding airsoft which employs many people. It has taken 50 years for me to find a sport which I love, which I'm reasonably good at, and which keeps me physically, mentally and socially fit. The classification of replicas as Category C Firearms would destroy my sport overnight.

    If replicas became Category C Firearms it would mean that manufacturers, retailers and owners of these replicas would be subject to all the obligations of the Directive. This disproportionate measure would mean that replicas would become Restricted Firearms in Ireland due to our laws restricting automatic firearms and limiting magazine capacity. This would require all Irish airsofters to install a gun safe and a monitored alarm with GSM backup, in addition to licensing all of their RIFs individually.

    At best, some countries may allow some replicas to be serialised, held on a certificate and registered. Other parts of the proposal would simultaneously make internet sales illegal and ban firearms "of military appearance". In essence, many airsoft replicas would be banned and the remaining ones would be heavily restricted or licensed to the point where it would not be worth the hassle of obtaining or owning one.

    In Ireland, all airsoft players would overnight become subject to the full suite of Firearms Acts and Statutory Instuments, with all the problems that those regulations pose for both An Garda Siochana and license-holders. The airsoft hobby would soon cease to exist and the industry would collapse. This would have been highlighted if the normal Economic Impact Assessment had not been bypassed in the case of this proposal. Inevitably, many replicas would remain uncontrolled out of ignorance to the drastic changes, turning the owners into criminals.

    The vast majority of replicas are NOT convertible to fire real ammunition.
    They have the appearance of a firearm on the outside but the type of replicas we use for airsoft do NOT have any components which would be useable in a firearm. They are manufactured with normal-strength plastics, low-temperature metal castings, and parts of soft steel and brass. No justification has been presented in the text of the proposal for the inclusion of replicas in the scope of the directive. Member states have not expressed any major problems relating to public order caused by the use of replicas nor have replicas been implicated in terrorist acts.

    In fact, after an extensive study in 2010 (COM(2010)404) the European Commission itself recommended that "replicas, with their various characteristics and purposes, should not be included in the field of application of Directive 91/477/EC (Firearms Directive), especially as those which can be converted to a firearm and therefore treated as one are now covered by Directive 2008/51/EC."

    I also believe that the category change will be impossible to implement. Most replicas do not have a serial number. Replicas can be produced from almost any material by any person, for example by carving wood into the shape of a gun. I don't think it would be possible to register and control such a broad category of items. The cost of serialising and registering all replicas would be enormous, as would be the compensation costs for confiscation of those replicas which would become prohibited items. By EU estimates there are hundreds of millions of replicas (of various types, not just airsoft) in Europe. No-one has explained how this could be done, or how much it will cost. The governments of Germany, Czech Republic and Austria have specifically objected to the reclassification of replicas, and I do not believe that An Garda Siochana will find the measure sensible, achievable, enforceable or a good use of their resources.

    I support sensible controls, such as ensuring that readily convertible replicas, alarm and signal weapons are classed as firearms. Most of these are firearms already under Irish law anyway. I support robust mandates to ensure standardised irreversible deactivation of firearms across the EU. I support sensible measures to restrict the flow of firearms into Europe from war-torn areas.

    What I don't support is heavy handed and ill thought out curtailing of law abiding citizens' pastimes under the guise of preventing terrorism. Especially if the measure proposed will have no effect on the availability of firearms to criminals, and at enormous expense.

    And this will be a red-line issue for me at the next election.

    Please seek the amendment of the proposal COM(2015)750/F1 so that replicas will not be classified as firearms by being added to Category C (Firearms subject to declaration) of Directive 91/477/EEC.

    Is mise le meas,


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    Reply from Brian Crowley this morning. As of now, the only one to reply.
    Dear [redacted]

    Thank you for your email. The Directive is part of a package of measure recently adopted by the European Commission to make it more difficult to acquire firearms in the EU, including a revision of the Firearms Directive, an Implementing Regulation on common minimum standards of deactivation of firearms and an action plan against the illegal trafficking of weapons and explosives.

    There has been EU legislation on firearms since 1991 and it was last reviewed in 2008. The current proposals were foreseen in the European Security Agenda adopted in April 2015 but have been significantly accelerated in the aftermath of the attacks on Paris. In light of these tragic events, it is right that we look at what can be done on a practical basis to tackle terrorism and criminal activities.

    There are positive elements to the proposal, including improved traceability, enhancing the marking of weapons, the tracking of deactivated arms and the establishment of an EU-wide database. These, I believe, are important components in effective gun control.

    However, the weapons used in the Paris attacks were illegal and this proposal will not tackle black-market trade. It is my firm belief that alongside any new legislation concerning legal firearms, there must be much greater enforcement against illegal arms, crime and terrorism.

    From the large volume of correspondence I have received on this issue, I also know the insecurity the proposal creates for legal gun owners, hunters, sport shooters, and those, such as yourself, engaging in activities involving replica firearms and the feeling that they are being punished in the cracking down on the illegal use of weapons. It is clear that a balance is needed.

    As you may be aware, the issue was recently discussed for the first time at the IMCO meeting on 7th December and it will continue to be debated at length. The European Parliament will be proposing amendments to the draft proposal and I will certainly pass on your own concerns to my colleagues. Please be assured that I will also take your concerns on board when the matter eventually comes before the Parliament for a vote.

    Kind regards

    Is mise le meas
    Brian


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,040 ✭✭✭ Southern Dandy


    Good on ya OzCam, very well put by you. And a positive response from Brian crowley. Play the waiting game now. Thanks for keeping us up to date.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    European Airsoft Association


    Dear Airsoft sport enthusiasts,


    Through the following link you can see a press conference concerning the proposal that has been a threat to our sport.


    The conclusion of this is that the current content of the proposal is too vague and will need to be rewritten. Former President of the EAA and the current UKAPU Representative Matt Fury-King has received a positive response from those responsible for scrutinising the proposal that they do not see a threat from Airsoft and will work to exclude Airsoft platforms from the re-written proposal.


    This does not mean we are in the clearing. When there is more news to report we will let you all know.


    Until the changes have been processed and accepted,we must continue to raise awareness and have our voices heard.


    http://www.europarl.europa.eu/…/Press-seminar-Terrorism-the…


    Kind regards,
    J. Dekkers
    President


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,048 OzCam


    United Kingdom Airsoft Players Union

    Excellent news from the firearms stakeholder meeting.

    Vicky Ford MEP (who is the designated rapporteur- the person given responsibility to review amendments before its put to a vote) clarified that the intention of the proposal is not to reclassify airsoft replicas as category C firearms. The EU say they only wish to reclassify certain blank firing replicas.

    Ms. Ford informed our representative that they will forward an ammendment to sort out the wording of the relevant section. The proposal as currently written will reclassify all replicas, regardless of the intention.

    The threat isn't entirely gone as they haven't written any amendments yet and MEPs still need to vote on whether to adapt the amendment, so we'll stay engaged with the process and we ask you to keep up to date on the situation. But things are looking positive.

    I also ask that you keep standing with our cousins in the real firearms community, as a large chunk of their pastime still hangs in the balance. We expect that the amendment which we have requested will be one of very many.

    Matt Furey-King
    Chairman UK Airsoft Players Union


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