Monday, September 26th, 2016 will see the first session of the trialogue between the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission concerning the proposed restrictive amendments to the European firearms directive
Next Monday – September 26th, 2016 – will mark the start of the so-called "trialogue" negotiation between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council concerning the proposed restrictive amendments to the European Directive 91/477/EEC, as already amended by 2008/51/EC, concerning the control of acquisition and ownership of firearms – a.k.a. the so-called "EU gun ban".
The European Commission introduced its amendments back in November 2015, even before the dust could set down on the massacre scenes of the Bataclan club and the other targets of the Paris terror attacks.
And yet, one could not help to think that this attack to gun rights in Europe was a well-planned operation, given how many of the proposed restrictions – disproportioned, aimed only at punishing law-abiding citizens and persons who make a honest living out of the legitimate trade in guns without any impact on the black market that arms the hands of terrorists and criminals alike – were already to be found among the proposals of the now-infamous EU "white paper" on firearms published in October 2013 and heavily lobbied for by former EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.
Among good and bad news
No doubt, the European Commission planned to carry on with its disarmament plans for the entire Union in the turn of a few months; and yet, Jean-Claude Juncker and his minions had to face a strong opposition from the European Parliament and – albeit on a smaller scale – from the Council, which represents directly the national governments of the EU member States.
Since the Council and the Parliament – the two bodies granted with the power to pass and enact pieces of European legislation under the "codecision" principle – could not settle for a common position, they will have to attempt and reach a compromise during the so-called "trialogue", ahead to the plenary vote at the European Parliament, which is set for next November.
The trialogue is not open to the public or stakeholders; only representatives of the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission – along with some explicitly invited "experts" – could participate to the works. This means that, unfortunately, there is no level of democratic control whatsoever over the trialogue process.
Under this point of view, it's good to know that the British conservative MEP Vicky Ford has been re-appointed as the main rapporteur for the dossier early on in September. As the Chairwoman for the European Parliament's committee on the internal market and consumer protection (IMCO), Vicky Ford has shown to be receptive and sensible towards the legitimate demands and worries of law-abiding gun owners, industry and other stakeholders whose lives would be ruined by the Commission's restrictive proposals, which have also been vetted by some bodies of the European Council and by other EU entities such as EESC.
It's definitely less good to know that the European Parliament's delegation to the trialogue will be spearheaded by Catherine Stihler, a Scottish Labour Party member and S&D MEP. Catherise Stihler is a hard-liner anti-gun, and has penned several even more restrictive amendments to the dossier during the talks at IMCO.
According to our sources and to the rules that regulate the trialogue, it is customary to assign such a role to the representative of a minority position – and unlike at IMCO, her role would be strictly limited, with not many possibilities for her to steer the outcome in favour of an all-out gun ban. Only the works of September 26th and October 17th will tell if Catherine Stihler will respect such limits or if she will want to overstep them in order to push for a crooked gun control agenda.
And the fight goes on
Between hopes of a good outcome – optimistically shared by other stakeholders and insiders – and the fear of turncoats and backstabbing, others continue the fight in defense of gun rights in Europe. Spearheading the fight is FIREARMS UNITED, a pan-European and global network of gun rights groups that is becoming increasingly popular and assuming the role of a unitary voice for all European gun owners – something that had been sorely missed so far.
Firearms United recently stepped up its awareness-raising campaign among the Members of the European Parliament by sending all MEPs a detailed personal letter including hard facts and data about civilian gun ownership, the lack of risks thereof, and its positive impacts on public safety and economy. The letter was matched with a small gadget – a keyfob – which meant to be the icing on the cake of an initiative that nobody had ever tried before in the history of EU in its current form.
Among the reactions of the MEPs that received the letter, two stand out both negatively and positively.
The Spanish GUE/NGL MEP Marina Albiol Guzmán posted a picture of Firearms United's letter thrown in the trash on her social network pages, along with a malicious post that raised doubts on who could have paid for the initiative.
On the other hand, the Polish ENF MEP Michał Marusik warmly greeted the letter and the keyfob, publicly declared his support for any initiative against the planned EU gun ban and launched the hashtag #supportFirearmsUnited, asking all of his supporters to stand and fight alongside the Confederation.
There's definitely two different planets there, in terms of respect for the European citizens, for a democratic initiative that was paid for by the same citizens through their free donations to Firearms United, and for the legitimate worries of hundreds of thousands – or millions – who would suffer from the planned EU gun ban. Something to be taken in due account when selecting so-called "representatives", whose role should mandate them to listen to the doleances of law-abiding European citizens – even when they disagree.
Sure thing, European gun owners are definitely sick and tired to be once again a target for punitive measures whose goals are not the improvement of common safety but the cover up of the inadequacy and incompetence shown by national and EU-level politicians, bureaucrats and so-called "statesmen" in handling the threat of crime and terrorism.
One thing is for sure: seldom, if ever before, had the European Commission seen one of its proposals greeted with such hostility by other bodies of the EU. And seldom, if ever before, the world of gun owners in Europe had mobilized so hard and marched so unite in defense of gun rights in the Union.
May that be a sign that something is changing in our world, and that the many souls of gun ownership in Europe are finally realized that they need to come together and stand as one against all attacks – as any single one of them, as niche-targeted as it may be, could trigger a domino effect and throw everybody under the bus in no time?
Whoever is interested can download here the starting documents for the trialogue; the papers have been made public on the official Austrian Parliament website a few days ago.