European Union tightens up gun restrictions

The European Union parliament voted to toughen Europe’s gun laws this week, closing loopholes said to have been exploited by terrorists in France.

The new revisions to the EU Firearms Directive were passed on a 491-178 vote Tuesday and will require EU countries to implement tighter restrictions on firearms that fire blanks so those weapons cannot be easily manipulated into firing live rounds, New Europe reports.

The regulations will also add a permit requirement to the purchasing of any such blank-firing firearms.

“Over the past 18 months I and colleagues across this Parliament have worked with many different stakeholders, as well as law enforcement authorities, proof houses and legal experts, in order to protect the interests of legitimate owners whilst also addressing the security issues,” said Vicky Ford, Member of the European Parliament from the United Kingdom.

“The Parliament text has made many significant improvements,” Ford continued. “The changes that we have now agreed will close the loophole and be an important contribution to our security, whilst also respecting the rights of legal owners.”

The so-called blank-firing “acoustic” firearms were converted to fire live ammo and used in the 2015 Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks. Under the current law, they can be sold without licenses in some EU countries, but that is set to change under the revised directive.

The new rules also tighten restrictions on high-capacity semi-automatic weapons and automatic weapons that have been converted to semi-automatics.

Those who lawfully own such weapons will be able to keep them as long as their member country agrees.