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Czech President signs constitutional right for armed self-defence

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Prague, Czech Republic – President Milos Zeman has signed the constitutional amendment making it legal to use a firearm in cases of self-defence, the Czech News Agency (CTK) reported earlier this week.

The amendment to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms will take effect on September 1, enshrining in the Constitution the right for citizens to use firearms to protect oneself and others.

The bill was already approved by the Czech Parliament late last month.

Proponents of the bill, which originated from a public petition launched by Czech hunters associations and other gun owners, claimed that less firearms in circulation did not result in greater security, and that tight regulations only led to an increase of sales on the illegal market.

Signed by over 100,000 people, the petition was a direct reaction to the new EU directive on firearms, which seeks to regulate the ownership of guns and introduce tighter checks on automatic weapons purchases in a bid to combat terrorism.

The Czech Republic filed a lawsuit against the EU directive but was turned down by the Court of Justice of the European Union in December 2019.

According to the new rules, Czech police will have to verify at least once every five years whether owners of gun licences meet the legal and medical conditions to carry.

Critics argued that the constitutional change was superfluous and unnecessary, fearing the amendment could lead to a greater number of Czechs acquiring weapons and firearms.

Reports from the early days of the pandemic suggested Czechs had gone on a gun buying-spree as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, a phenomenon also observed in other countries, including the US.

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 Warsaw and Budapest.