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European Union: Firearms Legislation

(Dec. 2, 2007) In the aftermath of a recent shooting at a school in Finland, the European Parliament moved quickly to approve at first reading the European Commission's proposal to amend Directive 91/477/EC concerning the acquisition and possession of firearms. The last step in the legislative process is that the proposal will be forwarded to the Council of the European Union for final approval. Once approved, the new Directive will harmonize the EU gun legislation with the United Nations Firearms Protocol, to which the Community acceded in 2001.

The main highlights of the new Directive are:

  1. • Each member State must establish a computerized filing system containing all records on firearms for at least 20 years;
  2. • The purchase of firearms by minors will be prohibited and the conditions of the use of firearms by persons less than 18 years of age will be strictly controlled;
  3. • Manufacturers will be obliged to mark firearms at the time of manufacture with clearly identifiable particulars;
  4. • Firearms must also be marked when transferred from government stocks to use by civilians; and
  5. • The use and recognition of the European Firearms Pass within the European Union will also be strengthened.

(Press Release, European Commission, Commission Welcomes Parliament Agreement to Strengthen Gun Control in the European Union, IP/07/1813 (Nov. 29, 2007), available at