Categories: firearms prohibited for civilian use and firearms under authorisation  


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Firearm types are defined as Category A, B or C. Category A firearms are prohibited except for certain types of individuals, Category B firearms need an “authorisation”, and owners of Category C firearms need to declare their ownership but do not need authorisation.

Category A

The Commission’s original proposal added:
Category A6 “Automatic firearms which have been converted into semi-automatic firearms“ and Category A7 “Semi-automatic firearms for civilian use which resemble weapons with automatic mechanisms.”

These were both rejected by Parliament´s negotiators, as “there is experience that categorising items based on the subjectivity of resemblance creates legal uncertainty”, said Vicky Ford (ECR, UK).

Category A6

Parliament’s initial committee approach was that “Automatic firearms which have been converted into semi-automatic firearms” should remain in Category B if the conversion was irreversible and be placed in Category A only if the conversion was reversible. “Parliament’s team proposed that the Commission should develop new technical standards to define which conversions were irreversible. However, the Commission was not prepared to accept responsibility for preparing technical specifications on these conversions”, said Ms Ford.

”To reach agreement, negotiators representing the majority of Parliament conceded that automatic firearms converted into semi-automatic firearms should be Category A, but added new authorisation procedures so that, at the discretion of the member state, reservists, target shooters and others with special licences would be permitted to hold these. In addition, a ‘grandfathering’ clause is added so that existing owners can continue to own, transfer, inherit or sell these firearms to others who have appropriate authorisation. Again this is at the discretion of the member state”, explained the rapporteur.

Category A7

Instead of using “resemblance” criteria both Parliament and Council negotiators proposed to add to Category A semi-automatic centre-fire firearms when a high-capacity loading device is fitted.   Firearms have been categorised according to loading capacity already in the current directive, and the new rules extend this approach. This only affects firearms which use centre-fire and not rimfire percussion ammunition. 

The categorisation applies when the firearm and magazine is in combination together, and does not depend merely on whether the firearm is capable of having a higher capacity magazine inserted.  This has been explained in the text:

“The mere possibility of fitting a loading device with the capacity over 10 rounds for long firearms and 20 rounds for short firearms does not determine the categorization of the firearm.”

“Therefore a semi-automatic firearm remains Category B unless the high capacity magazine is fitted”, explained Ms Ford.

Following lengthy negotiations, it was agreed that for long firearms exceeding 60 cm, a magazine with a capacity greater than 10 rounds would be restricted, while for a short firearm the limit would be set at 20 rounds. This was a major negotiating point for the Council.

Member states will be able to give authorisations for reservists, target shooters and others with special licences for these firearms. As for those firearms that now fall under Category A6, there is a “grandfathering” clause.