Guns
Guns

Czech Republic Advances Gun Amendment

| by Robert Fowler

The Czech Republic parliament has advanced legislation inserting gun ownership into their nation's constitution to allow citizens to use firearms in self defense in the event of a terrorist attack. The move is in response to the European Union's implementation of stricter gun laws.

On June 28, the lower chamber of the Czech parliament passed a bill that would insert gun rights language into their constitution by a vote of 139 to 200. The bill would permit Czech citizens to use their firearms in defense of their country if any potential terrorist attack occurs.

"This constitutional bill is in reaction to the recent increase of security threats, especially the danger of violent acts such as isolated terrorist attacks... active attackers or other violent hybrid threats," the legislation draft read, according to Reuters.

The Czech Republic already had among the most relaxed gun laws in the EU. Citizens aged 21 and over with no criminal record can obtain a firearm after demonstrating knowledge of how to use a weapon. They are allowed to discharge their guns in self-defense or when their property is threatened, according to Quartz.

The EU country has a population of 10.5 million, with 800,000 registered firearms.

The parliament's upper chamber is expected to also pass the measure, giving it a clear path to being signed into law by Czech Republic President Milos Zeman.

While the bill is pitched as a defensive reaction to terrorist threats, it would conflict with the broader EU's stance on firearms. In December 2016, the union passed a package of gun regulations in response to a string of terrorist attacks by the Islamic state group.

The new laws banned several semi-automatic guns, listed medical examinations as a requirement for purchasing a firearm, limited online sales, and created new methods of tracking registered firearms, according to CNN Money.

"We have fought hard for an ambitious deal that reduces the risk of shootings in schools, summer camps or terrorist attacks with legally held firearms," said European Commission Director Jean-Claude Juncker.

Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec asserted before the parliamentary vote that the EU regulations actually hobbled the ability of their citizens to protect themselves in the event of an attack.

"We don't want to disarm our citizens at a time when the security situation in Europe is getting worse," Chovanec argued, according to BBC. "Show me a single terrorist attack in Europe perpetrated using a legally-owned weapon."

While terrorist attacks have recently become prevalent across Europe, the Czech Republic has yet to be targeted by modern terrorist groups. This has not stopped Zeman from stoking concern among his citizens. In September 2016, the Czech president compared migrating Muslim refugees to Nazis.

"In the 30s, the overwhelming majority of Germans were decent people... In a few years, they became Nazis, even fanatic Nazis," Zeman told The Guardian. "And the radicalization of the -- [un]til these times -- moderate Muslim population might be like the case of the German population. It might be easier than the German population, [because] you have a very radical ideology based on a religion."

The most recent mass shooting in the Czech Republic occurred in February 2015, when a gunman shot and killed eight people.

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