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Additional legal acts required by the firearms directive

Additional legal acts required by the firearms directive

The revised firearms directive requires the European Commission to adopt several implementing and delegated acts to further enhance the security dimension of the directive.

These implementing and delegated acts include

The implementing act defines technical specifications for the design or make of alarm and signal weapons to prevent them from being converted into real firearms.

The firearms directive requires that firearms and their essential components, whether part of a firearm or placed separately on the market, have a clear, permanent and unique marking applied to them. The implementing act defines technical specifications to ensure that this unique marking is clear and not easily erased or altered. 

  • Delegated acts on the electronic exchange of information on firearms between EU countries

The firearms directive requires the Commission to adopt delegated acts on setting up an electronic system to exchange information between EU countries. Namely, on the transfers of firearms within the EU and on the refusals to grant firearms authorisations. EU countries agreed to implement both information exchanges by using the internal market information system.

1.) Authorisations (licences) to transfer firearms to another EU country using the internal market information system 

An electronic information exchange system on firearms transfers within the EU improves how EU countries currently exchange information. It helps to ensure that firearm transfer authorisations cannot be granted based on fraudulent documentation. 

The internal market information system for transfers of firearms within the EU has been up and running since 3 September 2019. 

2.) Information about refused authorisations to acquire or own a firearm 

Exchanging information on refusals to grant authorisations would inform EU countries about individuals who were refused a firearm authorisation in another EU country on the grounds of security or reliability. This can help national authorities assess whether they should authorise an individual to acquire or possess a firearm. Electronic information exchange ensures order and security.

EU countries’ contact information for the transfer of firearms

The firearms directive provides for the transfer of certain weapons without prior authorisation from EU national authorities.

In particular, article 11 (4) of the directive states "Each Member State shall supply the other Member States with a list of firearms the transfer of which to its territory may be authorized without its prior consent. Such lists of firearms shall be communicated to dealers who have obtained approval for transferring firearms without prior authorization under the procedure laid down in paragraph 3.”

EU countries contact information for the transfer of firearms

Deactivation regulation

The firearms directive requires the European Commission to adopt standards and rules on the deactivation of firearms. The Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2403 of 15 December 2015 (deactivation regulation) establishes common guidelines on deactivation within the EU with the objective to circumvent problems due to the illegal re-activation of firearms  The deactivation regulation became applicable from 8 April 2016 whenever deactivated firearms are placed on the market or transferred to another EU country from that date.

This regulation sets out common and strict minimum criteria for the way EU countries must deactivate weapons so that they are rendered irreversibly inoperable.

National entities authorised to verify deactivation of firearms

The new EU rules on the deactivation of firearms foresee that the Commission publishes a list of all national entities authorised by EU countries to verify that firearms have been deactivated correctly (including their contact details and symbol (where applicable)).

Revision of rules on deactivation

In line with the provisions set out in the firearms directive to regularly review deactivation standards and techniques and in line with what was agreed with co-legislators during the trilogue negotiations on the revised firearms directive, the European Commission committed to review the deactivation regulation. 

On 5 March 2018, the European Commission adopted an amended Deactivated Regulation (EU) 2018/337. The implementing regulation shall apply from 28 June 2018 and aimed at improving clarity, avoid any ambiguities for practitioners, and ensure that the technical specifications are applicable to all types of firearms.

  • Implementing decision on deactivation equivalence

The revised firearms directive provides that EU countries could notify to the European Commission, up to 13 August 2017, their national deactivation standards and techniques applied prior to 8 April 2016 (date of application of the EU deactivation rules). The Commission is to adopt implementing acts deciding whether these national deactivation rules ensure that firearms are deactivated ‘with a level of security equivalent’ to that ensured by Annex I of the EU Deactivation Regulation (EU) 2015/2403. The Netherlands and UK had notified their national rules. Commission decision on the equivalence of these national rules with EU rules are under preparation based on the assessment of national deactivation experts.

European firearms pass

The firearms directive introduced the European firearms pass, a document which is issued upon request by national authorities to a person lawfully possessing and using a firearm to be able to travel with a firearm while in the EU

Commission Recommendation 2005/11/EC and article 1(3), article 12 and annex II of the firearms directive

Reports and studies

The Commission has adopted a number of reports on the implementation of the firearms directive over the years.