Tighter gun laws to be accelerated
12 May 2006, BRUSSELS — The legislative proposal aimed at tightening Belgium's gun laws will undergo an accelerated debate following the Antwerp racist murders on Thursday.
12 May 2006
BRUSSELS — The legislative proposal aimed at tightening Belgium's gun laws will undergo an accelerated debate following the Antwerp racist murders on Thursday.
The chairwoman of the parliament's justice commission, Martine Taelman, made the promise in response to an urgent request from Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt on Friday.
Hearings over the legislative proposal were planned for the week prior to Ascension Day on Thursday 25 May. Those hearings will now be heard at an earlier date, allowing for earlier parliamentary discussions.
Verhofstadt had written to Taelman and Parliament speaker Herman De Croo to request an accelerated processing of the legislative proposal.
The proposal was drawn up some time ago by Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx and is currently being discussed by the parliamentary justice committee.
The government plans to tighten gun laws so that a waiting period will be imposed on people wishing to buy a gun.
Liberal VLD parliamentary Fons Borginon leader said swift approval of the new law will not affect the quality of the legislation. He said the legislation will pass through the parliament before the summer and hopefully the Senate as well.
Borginon said debate over the new law has already started because Onkelinx has explained the text, all parties have been asked to select representatives who will attend the hearings which are currently being organised and could be held within the next two weeks.
Left-wing Spirit MP Stijn Bex also hopes the legislation can be passed before the summer recess. However, his party wants to be sure that it will be possible to close loopholes in the proposal.
Bex said one of the reasons that will be considered as a legitimate reason to buy a gun — people who are at threat — should not be used a backdoor.
Spirit remains in favour of the legislative proposal and its aim to ban private weapon possession, but is not in favour of the current wording. It said politicians will never be able to avoid a person with a gun permit carrying out a shooting.
"But incidents such as yesterday, in which an unstable person can in an impulse buy a weapon completely legally and murder innocent people a few hours later, will no longer be possible, whatever the gun lobby might argue," Spirit said.
But the National Union of Weapons Producers and the Hunting and Sporting Shooters association (UNACT) said the new weapons law will not prevent brutal murders such as those in Antwerp.
UNACT said calls from political parties for tighter gun laws are only an expression of public sentiment to calm a "startled society".
"They forget that it is not the weapon itself, but the conscious use of it by the culprit that is the actual cause for this cowardly act," UNACT said.
It said no present or future law about legal weapon possession will be able to prevent racist attacks. It dismissed Minister's Onkelinx's legislation as inadequate.
"The culprit of the racist attack would perfectly legally be able to buy his weapon under both the current and new legislative proposal. He satisfies all of the pre-conditions: he is an adult, had no criminal record and could perfectly meet the remaining legal conditions," UNACT said.
UNACT urged instead for an amendment to the procedure of being able to buy a hunting or sports weapon, guns that must be registered with authorities.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news