As reactions among EPP MEPs concerning the vote at the IMCO committee differ vastly, a deep divide among individual opinions – almost at the limits of schizophrenia – puts the trust of European gun owners towards the biggest group at the EP to a serious test
The January 16 vote at the IMCO committee of the European Parliament fully approved the results of the trilogue as emerged back in December 2016, which is now forwarded for the final vote at the EP plenary in March.
While the IMCO vote was indeed vastly expected to rubber-stamp the trilogue outcome, the plenary is likely to see amendments introduced and voted.
Many Members of the European Parliament already announced that they intend to do so, despite the demands of Sir Julian King, the new European Commissioner for the Security Union.
But still, many sources fear that the different groups at the European Parliament may find backroom agreements to have the text passed as it came out of the trilogue, without amendments.
And as you read this article, the conflicting reactions to the IMCO vote from two MEPs from the same Country and the same EP group seem to make that suspect closer to a frightening certainty.
On January 26th, with a post on her official Facebook page, Italian EPP MEP Lara Comi – a member of the Forza Italia party – commented enthusiastically about her satisfaction for the outcome of the IMCO vote. Her satisfaction was not shared by a vast majority of gun owners and enthusiasts who commented on her page, to which she replied saying:
I have consulted many hunters associations, stakeholders, consumers, ...
and all I got was a positive feedback!!!
Security / Comi (EPP): "Revision of the firearms directive at the European Parliament, security improved in face of the terrorist threat, some categories protected"
A limitation to the use of dangerous or improperly deactivated automatic firearms on European soil: this is the main result of the document voted today at the Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee of the European Parliament, which will modify the directive coincering legal ownership of firearms in the European Union.
« An important result for all European citizens in terms of common safety, given the current international context and the continuous terrorist threats we face.»: so spoke MEP Lara Comi, from the Italian Forza Italia party, vice-president of the EPP group at the European Parliament, and IMCO member.
« This is the result of a balanced compromise struck between the European Parliament, Commission and Council and will be voted by the EP plenary in March, then will be formally approved by the Council of Ministers of the EU in the coming months.»
« Some categories, such as sport shooters, collectors, hunters and military reserve members, will be safeguarded,» said again MEP Comi. « So to speak, hunters will have access to 10-rounds magazines, and sport shooters will still be able to take part to competitions as long as they can prove that they indeed practice shooting sports.»
The rules that govern the European Firearms Pass (EFP) will be updated to allow the EFP to cover all firearms and to allow inter-EU, cross-border transport of Category A firearms.
Member States will be able to release special authorizations to those individuals who use firearms to protect critical infrastructures and commercial transports, as well as cash-in-transit and other sensitive targets; to those individuals whose positions are critical to national security; as well as for educational, cultural, historical and research purposes.
According to the new paper, Member States will have 15 months to adopt the new rules and 30 months to establish a pan-EU informations exchange system.
« The defense of the well-being of our citizens is a priority for the European Parliament, and today come a new signal for the entire EU,» concluded MEP Comi.
In our humble opinion, it's clear that MEP Lara Comi had no idea what she voted for – and that's well understandable from the tone of her press release, which is nothing but a cut-and-paste from what seems to be a pre-packaged document; as her Facebook post was negatively commented by many, she answered in a way that made all her ignorance about firearms emerge abruptly, such as when she refered to centerfire semi-automatic firearms in an incorrect way in Italian, which sounded like a bad automated translation from English.
And if MEP Comi was not lying when she spoke about the "positive feedback of associations and stakeholders", her declaration means that our world has a serious problem on its hands.
Of course, should any stakeholder have any backroom meeting and settle for compromises accepting the trilogue document – as improved as it may be if compared with the original Commission proposal – said stakeholder should be held accountable for treason.
But in Italy, MEP Lara Comi is well known to be in contact with small hunting clubs and circles; should those be the "stakeholders" she has been talking about, the problem would be just more severe.
Because that would mean that a portion of gun owners still haven't understood that the only salvation is through unity, and that small circles and enclaves of a backwards mentality have the power to throw millions of gun owners across Europe under the bus.
And the theory seems confirmed by the enthusiastic article published by the Italian website cacciapassione.com on Saturday, January 28th: did the hunters betray all other gun owners?
Stefano Maullu and Comitato Direttiva 477
The split within the EPP about the matter is made even more evident by the press release sent out by Italian MEP Stefano Maullu – a member of the same party as Mrs. Laura Comi – whose tones starkly contrast with those of his party and group colleague.
Following MEP Comi's frankly fathomless enthusiasm, another press release came on January 29 – this time from the Comitato Direttiva 477, the Italian national association that's part of the Firearms United network and represents Firearms United in the Country.
Just like MEP Maullu, the Comitato Direttiva 477 commented negatively on the trilogue compromise voted at IMCO.
EU firearms directive, MEP Maullu: "Disarming law-abiding citizens will not make Europe safer"
The firearms directive should have – verbatim from Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker – protect us from terrorism, make Europe safer and defend the freedom of citizens.
No, no, and again, no. It will not protect us from terrorism, because terrorists do not use legally-obtained firearms, and in most cases they don't even use firearms anymore – replacing them with trucks, bombs, or even blades, as happened in Bruxelles.
Terrorists arm themselves on the Deep Web – a true unmonitored parallel universe which should be addressed unless we want to continue to fight terrorism with sticks while they have access to drones.
It will not increase our security, because it will only affect law-abiding gun owners – persons who are carefully vetted, who had to demonstrate their capability and reliability to own firearms.
And nobody is more free if reenactors will be forced to ask for a gun license for their replicas. No, muzzleloaders can not be used for massacres.
For this reason, in accordance with the twenty years I spent in politics, always defending the rights of law-abiding gun owners, I oppose this document.
The freedom of a nation is based on the fact that citizens should not be oppressed and should be able to defend themselves.
And a serious politician should never take ideologically-motivated, totalitarian knee-jerk decisions following tragic events such as the Paris terror attacks.
Albeit well aware of how much the text has been improved if compared with the initial proposals of the European Commission, the Comitato Direttiva 477 must voice a most negative opinion towards the draft for the amendment of the 91/477/EEC Directive, as already modified by Directive 2008/51/EC, which was approved by IMCO on January 26th.
The ban under "Category A" of many firearms which were never used in criminal or terrorist acts will have a mortally negative effect on the legal firearms market, on many manufacturers, and on law-abiding gun owners.
The idea that muzzle-loading antique replicas should be considered "more dangerous" than the original antiques just because they are manufactured with modern materials and machineries is nothing short of a symptom of dementia; and the persistence of subjective criterias of aesthetic resemblance to automatic firearms as a parameter for the classification of firearms is likewise absurd.
As the procedure nears the end, there is very little time left to oppose the text effectively; this only strenghtens our resolve to do whatever it takes to prevent this violation of the rights of millions of European citizens.
...and now what?
The rise to public knowledge of such a deep divide within MEPs of the same group and the same Country, and the evident ignorance of a MEP who has for long time been known, or thought, to be a defender of gun rights definitely stains the reputation of the European People's Party group in the face of law-abiding gun owners across Europe.
And the fact that MEP Comi might have allowed small, non representative groups of hunters damage the rights of millions surely does not help.
As the vast majority of gun enthusiasts and gun right supporters across Europe have now accepted, antiques and classic hunting or sporting guns can not be saved unless modern sporting guns are safe.
And European gun owners will not forgive, nor forget. The only thing that the EPP can now do to save face at the eyes of our community is to avoid any backroom compromise agreement with the S&D and other political forces and make sure that the document is not approved by the European Parliament's plenary in March unless it's substantially amended.
Sure enough, European gun owners and gun right supporters are looking forward for the EP plenary in March.
There's concern, of course; but most important of all, they will carefully observe the actions of MEPs and parties, and will adjust their votes accordingly as many key Member States are set to hold elections in the years 2017 and 2018. And the next European elections are in 2019... beware!