Czech lawmakers have passed legislation in the lower parliament that would see the right to bear firearms enshrined in the country’s constitution in a move directed against tighter regulations from the European Union.The legislation was passed with 139 deputies agreeing to the amendment to the constitution with only nine deputies voting against. The amendment will now be considered by the Czech Senate where it will require a supermajority of three-fifths of the members in order to pass into law, Die Presse reports.
Similar to the U.S. second amendment to the Constitution, which gives Americans the right to keep and bear arms, the Czech legislation reads: “Citizens of the Czech Republic have the right to acquire, retain and bear arms and ammunition.”
The amendment also notes that the right is there to ensure the safety of the country, similar to the provision of a “well-regulated militia” in the American amendment.
Whilst the new law will enshrine the right for Czech citizens to purchase and own firearms, members of the public will still need to acquire a weapons certificate.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said the new legislation was directly aimed at an EU directive from March which sought to prohibit semi-automatic firearms and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds for pistols and 20 rounds for long guns.
“We do not want to disarm our own people at a time when the security situation is constantly worsening,” Chovanec said.
The Czech Republic has one of the largest rates of firearm ownership in the EU with an estimated 300,000 gun owners who own around 800,000 individual firearms.
Laws around gun ownership in the Central European country are also far less restrictive than other EU countries with 240,000 of the 300,000 gun owners having concealed carry permits and self-defence being a recognised reason for firearms ownership.
The Czech defiance of EU policy has in recent months been largely confined to the issue of the redistribution of migrants.
Czech leaders, along with those from the other Visegrád group states of Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, have all rejected EU plans to redistribute migrants from Italy and Greece raising concerns over security.
Andrej Babis, expected to become the next Czech prime minister, completely rejected mass migration this week commenting: “We have to fight for what our ancestors built here. If there will be more Muslims than Belgians in Brussels, that’s their problem. I don’t want that here. They won’t be telling us who should live here.”