World

Czechs debate gun rights amendment to ensure EU can't tighten rules

A new .38-caliber pistol.

A new .38-caliber pistol.  (AP)

Czech lawmakers are weighing a proposal to amend their constitution to guarantee citizens the right to keep and bear arms, according to EURACTIV.

Social Democrats, the eastern European nation's main party, support the right to acquire and carry a gun for the sake of safety. But other political parties, particularly ANO 2011, firmly oppose the amendment.

Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, who drafted the proposal, is optimistic it will be passed by the Czech Parliament, EURACTIV reported.

“I think that we have very good negotiating position to get 120 votes needed to pass in Chamber of Deputies,” Chovanec said.

Three-fifths of the Parliament’s deputies and three-fifths of its senators must vote for the measure for it to pass.

Martin Plíšek, from the opposition TOP 09 party, balked at the idea of the measure, saying it was keyed to October elections.

“It is pure pre-election populism, because there is no need to set the right to possession of weapon by a constitutional law,” he was quoted as saying by EURACTIV.

The Czech debate comes ahead of a vote by the European Parliament this month on restricting gun rights. Czechs who want the gun ownership amendment in their constitution see the proposal as a pre-emptive strike against possible EU gun ownership restrictions.

Supporters of the Czech measure say that it will help make the country more secure. They describe it as a step they want to take before the European Parliament moves to tighten gun ownership rules, according to Intellinews.com. Chovanec maintains that the possible EU gun control move could take thousands of guns from Czechs, Intellinews.com reported.

Some 800,000 Czechs own guns, the news outlet said.

“We will do our best to protect their rights,” Chovanec said. "In the beginning Europe had good intentions, but the realization could be given an F-."