EU taking Luxembourg to court over gun laws
The European Commission wants EU judges to impose financial penalties on Luxembourg for failing to incorporate tougher firearms restrictions into national law, the commission said on Thursday.
The EU's executive arm will ask the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice to order the Grand Duchy to transpose a 2017 update of EU rules on buying and possessing firearms into national legislation, and to impose a fine on the country for failing to act so far.
The EU moved to further restrict gun ownership following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris which killed 130 people, with Brussels seeking to prohibit all military-grade weapons and several types of semi-automatic weapons from civilian use.
The commission's decision comes three years after Luxembourg missed a deadline to adopt the revised EU gun restrictions introduced in 2017.
The revisions include requiring that member states revoke a person's authorisation to own rifles or pistols if they are found with devices that greatly increase firing capacity; ensure that every firearm or component carries permanent, traceable markings; and prevent guns designed to fire blank rounds as signalling or theatrical devices from being converted to using live ammunition.
The commission said in a statement it will ask judges to impose a fine on Luxembourg for failing to adopt the regulations and also a daily penalty for as long as the Grand Duchy fails to act, if the court rules the country is in violation of the legislation.
Efforts to implement the EU gun restrictions were derailed in 2019 when Luxembourg's State Council said the government was overreacting with its proposed revisions.
The State Council - an advisory body which ensures legislation is compliant with the constitution, international treaties and the rule of law – determined the government's proposed bill did not comply with the EU directive in several instances while begin disproportionately restrictive in other areas.
For example, the government's bill did not differentiate between ownership of modern weapons and semiautomatic or automatic weapons of historical value, such as machine guns from both World Wars, which Luxembourg permitted under strict guidelines.
At the time, there were about 94,000 weapons registered in Luxembourg and 15,000 people licensed to own firearms.
The required legislation has again been working its way through Luxembourg's parliament and passed a key committee two months ago, the Justice Ministry said on Thursday. The ministry said it now plans to intensify its efforts.
Also on Thursday, the European Commission announced it would be taking action against Luxembourg, Denmark and Ireland by urging them to establish data-filing systems that track the activities of gun dealers or brokers and a second recording all types of firearms. If the countries fail to act in two months the case could be referred to the ECJ for further action, the commission said.
In a third announcement on Thursday, the commission hit out at five countries - Luxembourg, Austria, Finland and Croatia - for failing to adopt EU anti-terrorism rules that criminalise and punish offences such as travelling abroad to commit a terrorist offence, training for terrorist purposes and financing terrorism. The countries missed a deadline three years ago to transpose the EU requirements into national laws, the commission said.