European Commission sues Sweden failing to adopt a gun control directive

Sweden is late for implementing a European Union gun control directive and risks a financial penalty.

Knotted gun in Malmö, Sweden
Knotted gun, a bronze sculpture symbol of non-violence by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd in Malmö, Sweden | © arniii

The European Commission decided to refer Sweden to the European Union Court of Justice on February 9.

Sweden fails to transpose EU rules on the acquisition and possession of firearms.

The European Union introduced revisions of the European Firearms Directive in 2017 and member states were required to transpose them by September 2018. They are free to implement stricter regulation if they want to.

The main purpose of the new directive was to prevent the misuse of firearms for criminal activities.

But since 2018, Sweden has only partially adopted the gun control directives into its national laws.

Sweden regulates the possession with gun licenses and other restrictions. But it also one of the countries with the highest ratio of legal firearms by population size. Wildlife hunting – geese, wild boars, deer, beavers – is rather popular in Sweden.

The parliament has repeatedly rejected the government proposals.

In January last year, the Riksdag asked the government to come up with amendments that were not stricter than requested by the EU.

A Justice Committee for instance feared that legal gun owners, like hunters, may not comply with the new regulations because of extra administrative work. But the Social Democrats and the Green Party disagreed with the Justice Committee observations.

In a country where the political majority is unstable, a new amendment have not been proposed since last year, and Sweden now faces risks of a hefty fine.

Sweden is exposed to financial sanctions if it doesn’t adopt the new directive. The European Commission proposed a lump sum to penalize for the existence of the infringement and a daily penalty until the directives are adopted. The Court may take until 2023 to decide on the fine.

Sweden has lost more than a dozen cases in front of the European Court because it failed to implement regulations on time.

It was estimated in 2017 that more than half of civilian firearms, 35 million weapons, were illegally owned in the EU.

Read more about Sweden

European Commission, February 2022, Free access

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