Council of the 
European Union 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Brussels, 16 December 2016 
(OR. en) 
 
 
14974/16 
 
 
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Interinstitutional File: 

2015/0269 (COD) 

 

 

 

 

NOTE 

From: 

Presidency 

To: 

Permanent Representatives Committee 

Subject: 

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 

June 2016. 

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: 

a.  

to confirm the final compromise text of the proposed Directive, as set out in the Annex to this 

note 

b.  

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 

reading. 

 

 

 

ANNEX 

Proposal

1

 

2

 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 

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 

thereof, 

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, 

Whereas: 

(1) 

Council Directive 91/477/EEC

3

 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. 

                                                 

1

 

With participation of the associated countries. 

2

 

Text with EEA relevance. 

3

 

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). 

 

 

(2) 

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. 

(3) 

(…) 

(4) 

(…) 

(5) 

(…)  

(6) 

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.
 

(6b) 

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. 

 

 

(7) 

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
[2] , 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. 

(7b) 

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. 

(7e) 

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. 

                                                 

[2]

               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

 

 

 

(7f) 

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 
and collections.  

(7g) 

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. 

(8) 

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. 

(8b

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 
category A6.
 

(9) 

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. 

 

 

(9a) 

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 
Directive 91/477/EEC. 

(9b) 

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. 

(10) 

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. 
 

(11) 

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. 

(12) 

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.
 

 

 

(13) 

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 
Directive. 

(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. 

(14) 

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 
States

 

 

(15) 

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.

4

 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 
acts. 

(16) 

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 
Council

5

(17) 

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. 

                                                 

4

  

OJ L 123, 12.5.2016, p. 1. 

5

 

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). 

 

 

(18) 

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. 

(19) 

Directive 91/477/EEC should therefore be amended accordingly. 

(20) 

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 
Decision 1999/437/EC. 

(21) 

(…) 

(22) 

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. 

(23) 

(…) 

(24) 

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.