EU agrees new firearm trade rules to curb trafficking

By Thomson Reuters Mar 14, 2024 | 9:07 AM

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union reached provisional agreement on Thursday on new rules to make legitimate trade in firearms more transparent in a bid to combat illegal trafficking and keep arms out of the hands of criminals.

The new rules, agreed by lawmakers and the Belgian EU presidency, will replace a patchwork of different national rules, which have made it difficult to trade firearms and establish ownership.

When the European Commission made its original proposal in October 2022, it pointed to data showing that there were some 35 million illicit firearms in the EU, some 56% of all firearms and that 630,000 firearms were listed as stolen or lost.

The new EU regulation is designed to increase traceability.

The bloc will replace mostly paper-based national licensing with an EU-wide electronic system for manufacturers and dealers.

For hunters, exhibitors or those using guns for sport, or for historical re-enactments, EU residents will not need import or export authorisation if they hold a European Firearms Pass.

Imports of semi-finished firearms and components will only be possible for licensed dealers and brokers.

All imported guns and essential components would need to be marked to limit the availability of unmarked home-made “ghost guns”.

The new rules, which will still have to be formally approved by EU governments and the European Parliament, do not relate to the export of firearms for military purposes to Ukraine.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Sharon Singleton)