Council of the
Brussels, 16 December 2016
Permanent Representatives Committee
Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council
amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and
possession of weapons (First reading)
- Confirmation of the final compromise text with a view to agreement
The Commission presented its proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the
Council amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of
weapons on 18 November 2015 (COM (2015) 750 FINAL).
After examination of the proposal by the JHA Counsellors and by the Working Party on General
Matters including Evaluation (GENVAL), the general approach was reached by the Council on 10
The EP IMCO Committee adopted its orientation vote on 13 July 2016 and conferred a negotiation
mandate on the Rapporteur on 5 September 2016.
Four trilogues and a number of technical meetings have been held since September. At the last
trilogue on 5 December 2016, the Presidency and the EP Rapporteur reached an agreement on the
text set out in Annex to this note.
The EP Rapporteur, Mrs Ford, indicated that the European Parliament intends to adopt its position
in first reading during the plenary session in March 2016.
In view of the above COREPER is invited:
to confirm the final compromise text of the proposed Directive, as set out in the Annex to this
to mandate its Chair to communicate to the European Parliament the confirmation of the
political agreement via the habitual letter, with a view to reaching an agreement in first
DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 114
Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,
After transmission of the draft legislative act to the national parliaments,
Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee,
Acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure,
Council Directive 91/477/EEC
established an accompanying measure for the internal
market. It created a balance between, on the one hand, the undertaking to ensure a certain
freedom of movement for some firearms and essential components thereof within the Union,
and, on the other hand, the need to control that freedom using security guarantees suited to
this type of products in question.
With participation of the associated countries.
Text with EEA relevance.
Council Directive 91/477/EEC of 18 June 1991 on control of the acquisition and possession
of weapons (OJ L 256, 13.9.1991, p. 51).
Certain issues arising from Directive 91/477/EEC need to be further improved in a
proportionate way, to address misuse of firearms for criminal purposes, and considering
recent terrorist acts. The "European Agenda on Security" adopted in April 2015 called
for the revision of that Directive and for a common approach on the deactivation of
firearms to prevent their reactivation and use by criminals.
(2a) Once firearms are lawfully acquired and possessed in accordance with the provisions of this
Directive, national provisions concerning the carrying of weapons, hunting or target
shooting should apply.
Since brokers provide services similar to those of dealers, they should also be covered by
Directive 91/477/EC in respect of the obligations of dealers that are relevant to brokers'
activities, to the extent that they are in a position to carry out those obligations and insofar
as these are not carried out by a dealer regarding the same underlying transaction.
(6a) For the purposes of this Directive, the definition of a broker should be understood to
cover any natural or legal person including partnerships. For the purposes of this
Directive, the term “supply” should be deemed to include lending and leasing. The
activities of a dealer include not only the manufacturing but also the modification or
conversion of a firearm, essential components and of ammunition, such as the shortening
of a complete firearm, leading to a change in its category or subcategory. Purely private,
non-commercial, activities, such as hand-loading and reloading of ammunition from
ammunition components for own use or modifications of firearms owned or essential
components owned, such as changes to the stock or sight or maintenance to address wear
and tear of components, should not be considered activities that only a dealer would be
permitted to undertake.
Brokers and dealers should be able to refuse to complete any suspicious transaction for
the acquisition of complete rounds of ammunition or live primer components of
ammunition. A transaction may be considered suspicious if, for example, it involves
quantities uncommon for the envisaged private use, if the purchaser appears unfamiliar
with the use of the ammunition or if he insists on paying in cash while being unwilling to
provide proof of their identity. Brokers and dealers should also be able to report such
suspicious transactions to the competent authorities.
Taking into consideration the high risk of reactivating improperly deactivated firearms and
in order to enhance security across the Union, such firearms should be covered by this
Directive. Additionally, taking into consideration the principles of deactivation of firearms
as provided for by the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking of
Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition, attached to Council Decision
2014/164/EU of 11 February 2014 , which transposes that Protocol into the EU legal
framework, a definition of deactivated firearms corresponding with the above-mentioned
principles should be given.
(7a) Regarding the obligation of Member States to have a monitoring system in place in order
to ensure that the conditions for a firearms authorisation are met, Member States should
decide whether or not the assessment involves a prior medical or psychological test.
The assessment of relevant medical or psychological information should not be assumed
to assign any liability to the medical professional or other persons providing such
information for the misuse of firearms which are possessed in accordance with this
Directive, without prejudice to national laws addressing professional liability.
(7c) Firearms and ammunition should be stored in a secure manner when not immediately
supervised. If stored other than in a safe, firearms and ammunition should be stored
separately from each other. When the firearm and ammunition must be handed over to a
carrier for transport, that carrier is responsible for supervision and storage. Criteria for
storage and for safe transport should be defined by national law, taking into account the
number and nature of the firearms concerned.
(7d) For the most dangerous firearms stricter rules should be introduced in order to ensure
that those firearms are, with some limited and duly reasoned exceptions to the rule, not
allowed to be owned or traded. Where those rules are not respected, Member States should
take appropriate measures which may include the impounding of those firearms.
Member States should, however, have the possibility to authorise the acquisition and the
possession of prohibited firearms when necessary for educational, cultural, including film
and theatre, research or historical purposes. Authorised persons could include, inter alia,
armourers, proof houses, manufacturers, certified experts, forensic scientists and, in
certain cases, those involved in film or television recordings. Member States should also be
allowed to authorise individuals to acquire and possess otherwise prohibited firearms and
essential components thereof for national defence, such as in the context of voluntary
military training provided under Member State law.
Council Decision of 11 February 2014 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Protocol against the
Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the
United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; OJ L89 of 25.03.2014, p.7
It should be possible for Member States to choose to grant authorisations to recognised
museums and collectors for the acquisition and the possession of prohibited firearms and
ammunition when necessary for historical, cultural, scientific, technical, educational or
heritage purposes, provided that they demonstrate, prior to being granted authorisation,
that they have taken the necessary measures to address any risks to public security or
public order, including by way of secure storage. Any such authorisation should take into
account and reflect the specific situation, including the nature of the collection and its
purposes and Member States should ensure a system in place for monitoring collectors
The Directive should not prevent dealers and brokers from handling firearms prohibited in
accordance with this Directive in cases where the acquisition and possession of such
firearms is exceptionally allowed, where their handling is necessary for the purposes of
deactivation or conversion or whenever permitted in cases provided for by this Directive.
Neither should the Directive prevent the dealers and brokers from handling such firearms in
cases not covered by this Directive, such as firearms to be exported outside the European
Union or weapons to be acquired by the armed forces or the police.
In order to increase the traceability of all firearms and essential components and to
facilitate their free movement, all essential components of a firearm should be marked
with a clear, permanent and unique marking and registered in the data-filing systems of
the Member States in accordance with Directive 91/477/EEC.
(8a) The records held in the data-filing systems should contain all information allowing a
firearm to be linked to its owner and should record the name of the manufacturer or
brand, the country or place of manufacture, the type, make, model, and serial number of
the firearm or any unique marking applied to the frame or receiver of the firearm.
Essential components other than the frame or receiver should be recorded in the data-
filing systems under the record relating to the firearm to which they are to be fitted.
Firearms designed for military use, which are equipped to operate on the basis of selective
fire, such as AK47, M16, where they may be manually adjusted between automatic and
semi-automatic firing modes should fall within category A, therefore should not be
available for civilians and if converted into semi-automatic firearms should fall within
Some semi-automatic firearms can easily be converted to automatic firearms, thus posing a
threat to security. Even in the absence of such conversion, certain semi-automatic firearms
may be very dangerous when their capacity regarding the number of rounds is high.
Therefore, semi-automatic firearms with a fixed loading device allowing to fire a high
number of rounds, as well as semi-automatic firearms in combination with a removable
loading device with a high number of rounds should be prohibited for civilian use. 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.
Semi-automatic firearms which use rimfire percussion, including those with a calibre of
.22 or smaller, should not fall within category A unless they have been converted from
automatic firearms, without prejudice to renewal of authorisations in accordance with
The provisions of Directive 91/477/EEC relating to the European firearms pass as the
main document needed for their respective activities by target shooters and other persons
authorised in accordance with that Directive should be improved by inclusion in the
relevant provisions thereof the reference to firearms classified in category A, without
prejudice to Member States’ right to choose to apply a more stringent regime.
To prevent markings from being easily erased and to clarify on which components the
marking should be affixed, common Union rules on marking should be introduced. Those
rules should apply only to essential components that are manufactured or imported into the
Union after [insert the date appearing in Article 2(1)] , when they are placed on the
market, while firearms and parts manufactured or imported into the Union before that
date should remain covered by the marking and registration requirements under Directive
91/477/EC that are applicable until that date.
In view of the dangerous nature and durability of firearms and essential components, in
order to ensure that competent authorities are able to trace firearms for the purpose of
administrative and criminal proceedings and in the light of national procedural laws it is
necessary that the records in the data-filing system are kept for a period of 30 years after
destruction of the firearms and essential components. Access to these records and all
related personal data should be restricted to competent authorities and be permitted only up
until ten years after destruction of the firearm concerned for the purposes of granting or
withdrawing authorisations, including the possible impositions of administrative penalties,
and up until 30 years after destruction where necessary for the enforcement of criminal law.
(11a) The efficient sharing of information between dealers and brokers and competent
authorities is important for effective operation of the data-filing system. Dealers and
brokers should therefore provide information without undue delay to the relevant
competent authorities. To facilitate this, national competent authorities should establish a
means of electronic connection accessible to dealers and brokers, which can include
submission by email or directly through a database or other registry.
This Directive should not affect Member States' rules which allow lawful transactions
involving firearms, essential components and ammunition to be arranged by means of
mail order, the internet or "distance contracts" within the meaning of point (7) of Article
2 of Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, for example by
way of online auction catalogues or classified advertisements, telephone or email.
However, it is essential that the identities of parties to such transactions and their lawful
ability to enter therein be verifiable and verified. Regarding purchasers, it is therefore
appropriate to ensure that their identity and, where relevant, the fact of their
authorisation to acquire a firearm be verified, at the latest upon delivery, by a licensed
dealer or broker, or by a public authority or a representative of that authority.
The risk of acoustic weapons and other types of blank firing weapons being converted into
real firearms is high. It is therefore essential to address the problem of such converted
firearms being used in criminal offences, in particular by including them in the scope of
Directive 91/477/EEC. Furthermore, to avoid the risk of alarm and signal weapons being
manufactured in a way that enables them to be converted to expel a shot, bullet or
projectile by the action of a combustible propellant, technical specifications should be
adopted in order to ensure that they cannot be so converted.
(13a) Objects, that have the physical appearance of a firearm ("replica"), but which are
manufactured in such a way that they cannot be converted to firing a shot or expelling a
bullet or projectile by the action of a combustible propellant, are not covered by this
(13b) Where Member States have national laws addressing antiques, these weapons are not
subject to the requirements of the Directive. Reproductions of antique firearms do not
however have the same historical importance or interest attached to them and may be
constructed using modern techniques which can improve their durability and accuracy.
As such, those reproduction firearms should be brought within the scope of the Directive
and be subject to its provisions. Other items, such as airsoft devices, fall outside of the
definition of a firearm and are not regulated elsewhere in the Directive, so the provisions
of this Directive are not applicable.
In order to improve the functioning of the information exchange between Member States, it
would be helpful if the Commission could assess the necessary elements of a system to
support such exchange of information contained in the computerised data-filing systems in
place in Member States, including the feasibility of enabling each Member State to access
such a system. The Commission's assessment could be accompanied, if appropriate, by a
legislative proposal taking into account existing instruments regarding exchange of
information. This system may use a module of the Internal Market Information System
(‘IMI’) established by Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 specifically customised for
firearms. Such exchange should take place in compliance with the rules on data
protection laid down in Regulation (EU) 2016/679. In case the competent authority needs
access to the criminal records of a person applying for an authorisation to carry a
firearm, that authority should be able to obtain that information under Council
Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA of 26 February 2009 on the organisation and content
of the exchange of information extracted from the criminal record between Member
In order to ensure appropriate exchange of information between the Member States on
authorisations granted and on refusals, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article
290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union should be delegated to the
Commission in respect of adopting an act to enable the Member States to create such a
system of exchange of information on authorisations granted and on refusals. It is of
particular importance that the Commission carry out appropriate consultations during its
preparatory work, including at expert level, and that those consultations be conducted in
accordance with the principles laid down in the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April
2016 on Better Law-Making.
In particular, to ensure equal participation in the preparation
of delegated acts, the European Parliament and the Council should receive all documents at
the same time as Member States' experts, and their experts should systematically have
access to meetings of Commission expert groups dealing with the preparation of delegated
In order to ensure uniform conditions for the implementation of this Directive, implementing
powers should be conferred on the Commission. Those powers should be exercised in
accordance with Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the
This Directive respects the fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised in
particular by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
(17a) Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016
on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the
free movement of such data should apply to the processing of personal data in the
framework of this Directive. Where personal data collected further to this Directive are
processed for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal
offences or the execution of criminal penalties, the authorities processing these data should
comply with rules adopted further to Directive (EU) 2016/680 of the European Parliament
and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the
processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of the prevention,
investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal
penalties, and on the free movement of such data.
OJ L 123, 12.5.2016, p. 1.
Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16
February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for
control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers (OJ L 55,
28.2.2011, p. 13).
Since the objectives of this Directive cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States,
but can rather, by reason of the scale and effects of the action, be better achieved at Union
level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set
out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. In accordance with the principle of
proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is
necessary in order to achieve those objectives.
Directive 91/477/EEC should therefore be amended accordingly.
As regards Iceland and Norway, this Directive and Council Directive 91/477/EEC constitute
a development of the provisions of the Schengen acquis within the meaning of the
Agreement concluded by the Council of the European Union and the Republic of Iceland
and the Kingdom of Norway concerning the latters’ association with the implementation,
application and development of the Schengen acquis which fall within Article 1 of Council
As regards Switzerland, this Directive and Council Directive 91/477/EEC constitute a
development of the provisions of the Schengen acquis within the meaning of the Agreement
between the European Union, the European Community and the Swiss Confederation on the
Swiss Confederation’s association with the implementation, application and development of
the Schengen acquis which fall within Article 1 of Decision 1999/437/EC read in
conjunction with Article 3 of Council Decision 2008/146/EC.
As regards Liechtenstein, this Directive and Council Directive 91/477/EEC constitute a
development of the provisions of the Schengen acquis within the meaning of the Protocol
between the European Union, the European Community, the Swiss Confederation and the
Principality of Liechtenstein on the accession of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the
Agreement between the European Union, the European Community and the Swiss
Confederation on the Swiss Confederation’s association with the implementation,
application and development of the Schengen acquis which fall within Article 1 of
Decision 1999/437/EC read in conjunction with Article 3 of Council Decision 2011/350/EU.