News

Exchange with the Chairman of the EU Agriculture Committee Norbert Lins (EPP)

On Friday December 2nd, 2022, Peter Brass (Representative of Interest of the German Gunsmith and Gun Trade Association VDB) met with Norbert Lins, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) on behalf of AECAC Secretary-General Michael Blendinger, at the Mueller Shooting Center in Ulm (MSZU),.

As the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Mr. Lins is particularly familiar with hunting related issues. This also includes the EU firearms law, which is currently being amended.

At the invitation of the AECAC and VDB, Mr. Lins visited us for a detailed tour of the shooting center. He was impressed by the size of the company – from 300m shooting range to the large shop.

A key topic in the subsequent political exchange was the upcoming amendment to the European Firearms Regulation. The EU Commission presented its draft for this at the end of October 2022.

Peter Brass expressed concerns on several points. The planned introduction of a so-called End-User-Certificate, which is to be introduced in the international trade in civilian firearms, is simply not feasible. Labeling requirements for weapons to be imported into the EU only often only have to be fulfilled within the EU. “You have to keep in mind that not all countries have the same requirements”, Peter Brass stated.

Norbert Lins stated that the International Trade Committee in the European Parliament is expected to be responsible for the EU regulation. However, any changes should be made with caution. Germany itself already has one of the strictest gun laws, emphasized the MEP. He would like to campaign for understanding within his group.

The interlocutors were relieved that the current EU Commission probably does not want to rewrite the Firearms Directive. An evaluation would not be due until 2025 (after the European elections). Nevertheless, there are enough political issues: „With the national gun law reform in Germany and the EU Firearms Regulation, we have two important issues right at the beginning of the new year that will go into parliamentary deliberations,” explained Peter Brass.

Picture from left to right:

Georg Geismar (Teamleader Sales MSZU); Dr. Thomas Kienle (fraction leader of the CDU town-fraction); MEP Norbert Lins; Peter Brass (Respresentative of Interest); Peter Husen (VDB political consultant)

AECAC discusses political priorities at EU level

On November 30th, 2022 various member associations of the European Firearms Trade (AECAC) gathered for our end-of-year talks. The focus was on the political challenges of the upcoming year. The EU firearms regulation and the approaching ban on lead ammunition.

The virtual meeting was moderated by AECAC Secretary General Michael Blendinger. He summarized the annual activities of the AECAC and emphasized the currently difficult economic times. But not all associations signaled a reluctance to buy. France is very satisfied with the current year, but also complains about the lack of availability of the goods.

Yves Golléty, acting president of the AECAC, thanked his Secretary General for the good and successful work of the association. Many important new contacts were made in Brussels and the cooperation between the other international associations is also working well.

As a further positive signal, the AECAC was able to welcome a new association, the Danish Arms Trade Association. Board member Palle Skov Hansen introduced his association. It is important to speak with one voice in Brussels and to represent the interests of all member states.

Peter Brass, representative of the German Gunsmith and Gun Trade Association supported this but emphasized that there are still European arms trade associations that have not yet joined the AECAC. It is important to motivate them through convincing work to participate in the work of the association at European level. Because most laws are made in Brussels and even if the implementation of the member states differ everyone is always affected. The political expert and political advisor to the VDB, Peter Husen, spoke about current European issues, mainly the coming lead ban and the Firearms Regulation The revision of the firearms directive itself should probably only be tackled from 2025.

Several successful meetings have taken place in Brussels with Members of the European Parliament and representatives of other European Associations. The AECAC will meet again to exchange views on the upcoming reform of the Firearms Regulation. 

The AECAC will continue to represent the interests of its members at EU level in 2023.

Press release of the EU Commission on the EU Firearms Regulation 258/2012

Firearms: Updated regulations to increase security and facilitate legal trade

Brussels, October 27th, 2022: Today, the Commission is proposing to update EU rules on the import, export and transit of firearms for civilian use. As many as 35 million illicit firearms are estimated to be in the hands of civilians in the EU, and around 630,000 firearms are listed as stolen or lost in the Schengen Information System. The updated rules will facilitate the legal trade of firearms for civilian use and reduce the administrative burden of firearms manufacturers, dealers and users. The revised rules will enhance security and address firearms trafficking, and will enable coordinated controls and risk assessments to improve the traceability of firearms.

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “Firearms trafficking feeds organised crime within the EU and breeds political instability in the EU’s neighbourhood. With the development of fast parcel delivery and of new technologies, trafficking of firearms is taking new forms to escape controls. As legislators, we need to catch up. The reform we are proposing will close down the loopholes in the existing rules which are often circumvented, leading to firearms being smuggled and diverted into the EU.”

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “Criminals are constantly changing how they smuggle deadly weapons into the European Union. We need to stay one step ahead. EU internal security to reduce the illegal use and trafficking of firearms must be built on good law enforcement cooperation, good intelligence, and transparent procedures. This proposal does that. Today’s proposal also simplifies rules for legitimate firearms owners and businesses.” 

The updated rules will include:

  • Clear and common procedures for the import, export and transit of firearms for civilian use, their essential components, ammunitions and alarm and signal weapons. For example, the current proposal will exempt firearms manufacturers, dealers, and users from a fee to obtain an import or export authorisation.
  • Simplified import and export procedures for hunters, sport shooters and exhibitors: notably no prior import or export authorisation for hunters with a European Firearms Pass will be required. 
  • A new EU electronic licensing system for firearms manufacturers and dealers to apply for import and export authorisation, replacing the diverse, mostly paper-based national systems. This new paperless system will save applicants time and simplify the process. The system will also be connected to the EU Single Window Environment for Customs.
  • Strict technical standards for alarm and signal weapons, which are devices manufactured to only be able to fire blank, tear gas or irritant ammunition. This will help avoid them being converted into lethal firearms. Any such weapons not complying with these standards would need to be imported as firearms. The Commission will also establish a list of non-convertible alarm and signal weapons, meaning devices which are not capable of being converted to expel a shot, bullet or projectile.
  • Stricter rules on semi-finished firearms components. They will be imported only by licensed dealers and brokers, reducing the threat of home-made firearms without marking or registration (“ghost guns”).
  • An end-user certificate for the more dangerous firearms. This document will certify that the buyer is the final recipient of the goods and does not plan on transferring them to someone else. This will reduce the risk of diversion of firearms from the legal to the black market during or after export.    
  • Strict checks on refusals to grant import or export authorisations. National authorities will have to check whether someone applying for an authorisation has already been refused one in another Member State. When an individual will be refused an import or export authorisation, the information will be shared with other Member States. This will prevent individuals from ‘shopping’ in another EU Member State to obtain such authorisation.

Next steps

It is now for the European Parliament and the Council to examine the proposal. Once adopted, the rules will be directly applicable across the EU.

 Background

The illicit flows of firearms, essential components and ammunitions facilitate serious and organised crime, including terrorism. They enable violence and support criminal businesses. Illicit firearms also affect other areas of organised crime, such as trafficking in drugs and human beings.

Today’s proposal was announced in 2020 and concerns firearms for civilian use only. The Russian military aggression in Ukraine increases the potential of proliferation of firearms. In the medium-term, these new rules will help reducing the risk of circumvention of embargos in the case of exports of firearms for civilian use and increasing the controls of the import of this kind of firearms from non-EU countries. 

As part of the Security Union Strategy, the Commission adopted the EU Strategy to tackle organised crime and the 2020-2025 Action plan on firearms trafficking. Today’s proposal aims to ensure consistency between the Firearms Directive and the EU Regulation on import and export of civilian firearms. Both texts should regulate the same types of firearms, essential components, and ammunition. The current Regulation mainly regulates the export of firearms for civilian use.

 

For more information

AECAC is preparing for the upcoming discussion about EU Firearms law

On Monday 13th of June 2022, an event organized by the Europeans Hunter Association (FACE) and the European Manufacturers Association (ESFAM) took place in the European Parliament on the upcoming policy challenges in the field of firearms legislation. In addition to numerous members of the parliament from various parties, Peter Brass (Representative of Interest for the German Gunsmith and Gun Trade Association VDB) represented AECAC on behalf of Secretary General Michael Blendinger. It was a high-ranking exchange and good talks with politicians, representatives of FACE and ESFAM.

In addition to the planned ban on lead ammunition, the decisionmakers in Brussels will also deal with the revision of the EU firearms law in the coming month.
In fall 2022, a proposal for a new EU Firearms Regulation is to be presented by the EU Commission. The Commission is expressly open to tackle the Firearm Directive as well.
“It is all the more important to seek contact with the political institutions at an early stage so that we can address our own concerns to the right actors at a later point in time”, said Peter Brass.

AECAC and VDB have been holding talks in Brussels since last autumn and will expend them in the upcoming legislative process in order to represent the interests of our members.

HERE you can find the press release from FACE

Representative of Interest Peter Brass with MEP Marlene Mortler (EVP),
FACE President Torbjörn Larsson and ESFAM General Secretary Olivier van Herstraeten (Photos: Alexander Louvet)

Interview with Michael Blendinger

In spring 2020 the AECAC members elected Michael Blendinger as new general secretary.

Mr. Blendinger is vice-president of the German member association VDB and entrepreneur in Nurnberg. We have spoken with him about the future challenges and his ideas how to steer the AECAC through the coming times.

Michael Blendinger