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'People don't trust you!' Yet another EU split as Czechs launch angry attack on Brussels

BRUSSELS was facing yet another showdown with an angry member state today as furious Czech politicians lambasted eurocrats over gun control and warned them: “People don’t trust you.”

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Czech interior minister Milan Chovanec, left, blasted the EU

Prague has been infuriated by rules, drawn up by the former Tory MEP Vicky Ford, to limit access to high-end weapons like assault rifles and has launched a legal appeal against them. 

Eastern European states have been unnerved by the new EU Commission regulation restricting gun ownership which is designed to crack down on organised crime and domestic terrorism.

They claim that the measures will have a negative impact on their countries’ own internal security and say people like hunters need powerful weapons to carry out their sport. 

Brussels has been forced to act after evidence emerged that Islamist terrorists, including those who carried out the November 2015 Paris attacks, had used assault rifles form Eastern Europe that had supposedly been decommissioned. 

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Brussels wants to introduce tougher gun laws

The changes bring in new rules tightening up procedures to ensure that old guns cannot be brought back into service illegally and also limit access to semi-automatic weaponry.  

They ban long and short-barrelled semi-automatic firearms with large magazines, those with foldable stocks, and those converted from fully-automatic weapons, as well as toughening up registration of historical replicas.

The proposals voted through both the European Parliament and the EU Council of leaders despite opposition from the Czech Republic, Poland and Luxembourg who said they were too draconian. 

And today Prague announced it would be appealing to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to have the regulation overturned, claiming it would have no impact on the fight against terrorism. 

This is a nonsensical decision once again undermining people’s trust in the EU

Milan Chovanec

In a fiery statement interior minister Milan Chovanec said: “Such a massive punishment of decent arms holders is unacceptable because banning legally-held weapons has no connection with the fight against terrorism.

“This is not only a nonsensical decision once again undermining people’s trust in the EU, but implementing the directive could also have a negative impact on the internal security of the Czech Republic because a large number of weapons could move to the black market.” 

At the time the law was passed Mrs Ford, now the MP for Chelmsford, said: "The attacks on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters and at the Bataclan theatre in Paris exposed a dangerous loophole which allowed poorly deactivated firearms, known as salute and acoustic weapons, to be freely available.”  

The Czech Republic is hugely attached to its firearms, with 800,000 guns registered to 300,000 permit holders in the Eastern European country, which has a population of 10.6 million.

In a furious response to the EU’s plans, the defiant lower chamber of the Czech parliament approved a bill in June putting gun owners’ rights in the constitution,  making the Brussels regulation incompatible with domestic law. 

The country is already involved in a bitter stand-off with eurocrats, alongside Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, over the imposition of refugee quotas which the quartet have refused to accept. 

Eastern European states have become increasingly belligerent over EU rule making in recent years, with Warsaw separately fighting the EU Commission over reforms to the rule of law and its judiciary. 

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