Czech Republic as a Central European „Texas“?

Date of event:

The Prague Centre for Transatlantic Relations of the CEVRO Institute (PCTR)  in cooperation with the LEX – the Czech Gun Rights Protection Association organized an international conference entitled: “Czech Republic as a Central European “Texas”?” on March 23, 2017. The conference was opened and moderated by the PCTR Director Alexandr Vondra. The first panel was dedicated mainly to the current proposal to amend Czech Constitution to include the right to possess a gun. Then in the second panel three international speakers presented how the gun ownership is handled in their countries.

Milena Bačkovská, the Head of the Unit for Municipal Police, Firearms and Traffic Engineering, Security Policy Department, Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic, was the first speaker. She introduced the proposed amendment and the reasons why it was proposed. While it was influenced by the current problematic European directive on firearms the main goal of this amendment is an increased involvement of the Czech citizens in the protection of the country. It also serves as a declaration that the state trusts its citizens.

Next speaker, former Judge of the Czech Constitutional Court Stanislav Balík, right at the beginning expressed opposition towards the new proposal. According to him, the Constitutional amendment is not the best solution – the right to posses a firearm is present in the Czech legislation and the EU Directive will be implemented regardless the possible amendment. He also said that the Czech Republic is currently in a different situation than the US when the Second Amendment was adopted.

According to third speaker Jan Bartošek, a lawyer from the Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic, the aim of the proposed amendment is not to circumvent the EU Directive but rather to maximize the opportunity for possible exceptions. If we have the right to possess a gun in the Constitution it can be used as a stronger argument. It is also a clear signal that there is no will in the Czech Republic to go with the disarmament wave and push the legally owned gun to illegality.

He was followed by Jiří Hynek, the President and Executive Director of Defense and Security Industry Association of the Czech Republic, who stressed the paradox that the Czech Republic as one of the safest countries should implement Directive that was proposed by countries with much worse level of security. He also expressed his concerns about more restrictive legislation that would lead to shift of arm and ammunition production outside of the EU which would mean a significant security risk.

The last speaker was David Karásek, Chairman of the LEX – the Czech Gun Rights Protection Association. To the comparison of the proposed Czech Constitutional Amendment with the US Second Amendment he said that there is a significant difference in the actual gun laws between the countries. In the Czech Republic the emphasis is on the compliance with the conditions of possessing firearms. The discussion followed where most of the participants agreed that the constitutional amendment is needed. Compared to other EU Directives, that the Czech Republic opposed, this one is different because it concerns the security. The main goal is then to protect Czech gun legislation which is among the best in Europe.

The second panel was dedicated to international guests. Gen. (Ret) Shaike Horowitz, Israeli Law Enforcement professional, talked about the situation in the country with very sophisticated gun legislation. Because of the turbulent security situation in the region, Israel utilizes armed and well-trained citizens to protect its country. The state of affairs in Switzerland was described by Mark Heim, a Member of the ProTell – The Society for Liberal Weapons Rights. While the number of firearms is really high in this country, the gun culture is on such a level that there are no major incidents. The last speaker was Mikko Pesonen, a Finnish shooter, member of the Finnish branch of civil rights organization Firearms United and instructor of the reserve teaching safe handling of firearms. He described especially the elaborate system of organized training that Finns can join to improve their skills needed to protect their country. The second panel was also followed by debate.

The event was held with the kindly support of our partners: LEX – the Czech Gun Rights Protection AssociationInternational Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the university IDC Herzliya, and Sellier & Bellot. We would like to thank also our media partners Pravý břeh and Ozbrojeneslozky.cz.

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