The Slovak Parliament passed an amendment to the Firearms and Ammunition Act on Tuesday, March 29, following a heated debate that had gone on for several months. The amendment is a compromise version that softens the original proposal submitted by Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic (Christian Democratic Movement (KDH)) but will still introduce more stringent rules as of May 1, 2011.
According to the new law, people who keep firearms will have to undertake an examination by a clinical psychologist. Periodic psychological tests (once every 10 years) will become a requirement for anyone wanting to carry firearms, including sports shooters, security staff and policemen who currently have civilian gun permits. As of autumn this year the net will be expanded and all members of the armed forces who have to carry guns professionally will be added to this category. One of the most significant changes from Lipšic's proposal is that the police will not be able to enter homes in order to inspect weapons. Also, the new legislation will allow Slovak retailers to sell airsoft and paintball guns via the internet.
The new law is a reaction to the August 2010 shooting spree in Bratislava's Devínska Nová Ves district in which local resident Ľubomír Harman killed seven people and injured 15 before fatally shooting himself.
Lipšic would like to have seen a more stringent amendment but said he considers the version passed on Tuesday to be acceptable. He is confident that the newly passed legislation will reduce the number of mentally unstable persons armed with guns. "There'll always be such cases, but the promise is that we'll see fewer of these cases emerge," he said, as reported by the TASR newswire.
Former interior minister Robert Kaliňák (Smer) is drafting his own amendment to the law, due to be submitted at one of the next parliamentary sessions, he said on Tuesday. "It will address a number of issues in broader terms, for instance, the issues of carrying firearms and modifying registries in order to be able to solve crimes committed with a legal weapon faster," Kaliňák said. Kaliňák is not happy with the current amendment, saying that it lacks appropriately strict rules for carrying a firearm. The former minister maintains that a broader discussion should have taken place before any amendment was passed.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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30. Mar 2011 at 14:00