On December 15, 2016, the Czech Republic began the process to enshrine the right to bear arms in its constitution.
Google Translate’s rendition of the original Czech constitutional amendment:
In light of the current security situation in the world, it is proposed in the Constitutional Act on the Security of the Czech Republic to enshrine the right of citizens to use weapons and ammunition in defence of life, health and property.
This movement was a direct response to the European Union’s 2016 Firearms Directive 91/477/EEC, which demanded all EU nations adhere to minimum standards for firearm laws.
These minimum standards, under four separate categories of firearms, included:
- Prohibiting automatic firearms, explosive, incendiary ammunition and flechettes (think Canada’s Bill C-51 in 1997)
- Restricting firearm ownership to those 18 years old and older with prior authorization (similar to Canada’s firearm licensing system for gun owners)
- A ban on any firearm that looked similar to any automatic firearm (sound familiar?)
- Medical test for anyone who seeks authorization to possess firearms
These minimum standards did not sit well with Czech gun owners or many in the Czech government.
The Czech Republic was one of three countries to oppose the EU Firearms Directive. The Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Poland all voted against the directive.
The primary reason for firearm ownership in the Czech Republic is self-defence, unlike most of the rest of the European Union. Given their turbulent past, it’s easy to understand why.
Like many former Soviet states, Czechoslovakians don’t trust government and are very hesitant to give up their personal arms. They’ve seen where disarmament leads, first hand, and are in no hurry to revisit their recent past at the behest of the European Union.
The Czechs and Slovaks had suffered under Nazi tyranny from 1939 until 1945. [Under communism] they were again under the totalitarian boot, and would remain so until 1989, when the communist Evil Empire finally collapsed because of the strong policies begun by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
Once free, the Czechs and Slovaks soon decided on an amicable divorce and created separate republics. Today, their freedom, like freedom everywhere in the West, is again in peril as new generation of proto-totalitarians are hard at work to destroy dissent from “socialist” orthodoxy and to eradicate the right to arms and self-defense.
“What angers us the most is the fact that the EU is using the combating of terrorism as a pretext to affect citizens who are doing nothing wrong,” said David Karásek, spokesman of LEX, one of the Czech gun owner associations lobbying to stop the EU’s Firearms Directive.
“The amendment is only aimed at legally owned weapons. Terrorists use either illegal weapons, or deactivated firearms which have been illegally put in use again,” he said.
The tactics of the EU and the response of ordinary Czech gun owners sounds eerily familiar, don’t they?
Amendment Passes the Czech Parliament
On June 28, 2017, the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech Parliament, passed a draft amendment to the Constitution that would place the right to own guns in the Constitution.
“This constitutional bill is in reaction to the recent increase of security threats, especially the danger of violent acts such as isolated terrorist attacks … active attackers or other violent hybrid threats,” the bill read.
The Chamber of Deputies put the right to bear arms into the Czech constitution, contrary to a European Union’s Firearms Directive which was sold to member states as a means of combatting terrorism.
While passing in the Chamber of Deputies was a great start, the right to bear arms still had to pass by a two-thirds majority in the Czech Senate, a formidable hurdle.
On the plus side, Czech President Milos Seman supports the measure.
“Earlier I spoke against possession of large amounts of weapons [in the hands of the people],” Zeman said in an interview with newspaper Blesk in July, 2016. “After those attacks, I do not think so any more.”
The best way to ensure safety for the people, according to Zeman, is to make it easier for people to obtain gun permits.
Senate Blocks Amendment
On the downside, on July 11, 2017, the Permanent Senate Committee for Constitution and Parliamentary Procedures passed Resolution No. 5, which called the amendment “unnecessary and potentially harmful.”
The Senate went on to declare not everyone, but Member States cannot unilaterlyl exclude themselves from EU laws and regulations – not exactly a ringing endorsement for the constitutional right to bear arms in the Czech Republic.
They declared the constitutional amendment symbolic, at best, since European Union law supersedes the national law of all Member States.
On December 6, 2017, only 28 members of the Czech Senate voted in favour of the constitutional right to bear arms and the proposed amendment failed.
Second Lease on Life
On September 24, 2019, a group of 35 Senators resurrected the process and, on June 11, 2020, 41 of 61 Senators voted in favour of restarting the constitutional amendment process.
This required a second vote, at which point the process fell a single vote short of reaching constitutional majority.
Despite a valiant second effort, it appears (as far as I’m able to discern) the Czech Republic’s attempt to enshrine the right to bear arms in their constitution is dead.