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Czech Republic enshrines right to armed self-defence in Constitution

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Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Republic has moved closer to enshrining the right to use a weapon for self-defence in the Constitution.

On Wednesday, the Czech Senate voted in favour of adding in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms a provision stating that “the right to defend one’s life or the life of another person, even with a weapon, is guaranteed under the conditions laid down by law.”

The lower house of Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, had approved the amendment last June.

Czech President Milos Zeman, who cannot veto constitutional amendments, is now expected to sign it.

The constitutional change hails from a public petition signed by some 102,000 people and launched by Czech hunters and other firearm owners. Supporters of the bill expressed concerns the right to use a weapon in cases of self-defence could be restricted by EU regulations on firearms possession.

“The proposal is not only symbolic in nature but can also serve as insurance for the future,” said Senator Martin Cervicek (ODS), arguing restricting people’s right to acquire firearms would not result in greater safety as criminals would still be able to procure weapons illegally.

The Czech Republic, supported by Hungary and Poland, had filed a lawsuit against the EU directive, whose aim is to make it “harder to legally acquire certain high capacity weapons, such as automatic firearms transformed into semi-automatics” and strengthen the “traceability of firearms by improving the tracking of legally held firearms”.

The Czech lawsuit was dismissed by the EU Court of Justice in December 2019.

According to official estimates, approximately 300,000 people legally own a total of around 800,000 guns in the Czech Republic.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.

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