The new Act on Firearms and Ammunition coming into force in 2022 deals also with collective security and armed groups
The main principal on which the draft act is based, is keeping what proved effective, and replacing what is outdated. The act maintains high standard of conditions, under which a person can get access to firearms, but it reduces excess administrative burden related to it. The anticipated act newly regulates several topics and challenges that have been missing in the Czech legal system.
In 2017 a new Directive (EU) 2017/853 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons was adopted. Apart from the need to address the requirements of the Directive it is necessary to take into account technological and social development that has happened during the period of validity of the existing Act No. 119/2002 Coll., on Firearms and Ammunition (the Act on Firearms), as amended. In compliance with the Government Resolution No. 740 of 23rd October 2017 the Act on Firearms should be cancelled and substituted by a new legal framework related to manipulation with firearms, ammunition and munitions.
Draft Act on Firearms together with Draft Act on Ammunition substantially modernizes existing law in the field of firearms and it completely substitutes the existing Act on Firearms. The main principal on which the draft act is based, is keeping what proved effective, and replacing what is outdated. The act maintains high standard of conditions, under which a person can get access to firearms, but it reduces excess administrative burden related to it.
The Act eliminates the non-purposeful administration, it generally reduces administrative burden of the firearms holders as well as state institutions and it substantially strengthens components of e-government. It further cancels “hardcopy” documents. It will be possible to accomplish vast majority of transactions and submissions electronically by means of the central registry of firearms whose role will be strengthened. Electronic communication will be preferred.
Six categories, approach based on dangerousness
The Act more precisely defines firearms and divides them into six categories. The approach to them will be graded depending on their possible dangerousness. Instead of the five groups of firearms licences for natural persons the Act introduces only two groups of firearms licences that will be issued for an indefinite period. The Police of the Czech Republic will examine at least once every five years, whether firearms holders keep fulfilling the requirements for possession of the firearms licence defined by law, such as full legal capacity, integrity, reliability, and medical fitness.
Criminal sanctions for militant activists
Firstly, the Act prohibits and penalises formation of military groups, such as collective security groups, militia or armed groups that try to enforce their political, religious, or other similar goals with the use of firearms, it further establishes the system of shooting training with the aim to increase capabilities of legal holders of firearms when manipulating with them. Individual courses and their content will be set in a Government Regulation. Public authorities as well as private subjects – holders of firearms licence, who obtain an accreditation for a specific course pursuant to the Act on Firearms – will be entitled to organise shooting courses. Participation in such shooting courses will always be voluntary. Participation of persons in such refreshing courses will then be taken into account when they apply for authorisation for various types and categories of firearms pursuant to the Act on Firearms. The reason is the fact, that passing the assigned shooting course will increase knowledge and capabilities of the firearms holders, which eliminates the risk of possible accidents or incorrect manipulation with the firearms.
Changes under special circumstances
The Act will also permit the Government to accept a regulation in the time of a critical situation that will regulate manipulation with firearms beyond the scope of the Act on Firearms and of this Act. It will not only deal with the possibility to regulate the way of storage and safeguarding of firearms, but also to set another way of wearing firearms, or e.g. with the possibility to shoot infected animals with other types of firearms than those that are normally used. Absence of such arrangement in the legal system was demonstrated in the case of the African swine fever in the Zlín region, when in accordance with the hitherto applicable law it was impossible to temporarily authorise hunters to shoot pigs using gun silencers (i.e. prohibited gun supplements).
Full version of the amended acts and draft acts are available at the web page of the Ministry of the Interior.