Czech parliament passes amendment to tighten gun laws after mass shooting

The Czech Republic is set to tighten its gun laws after a deadly mass shooting at a university in December.

The Czech parliament has passed an amendment that would tighten the gun laws in the country, following the deadliest mass shooting in its history.

The amendment, which was already in the works before the tragedy, still needs to be approved by the Senate and the President, and would take effect in 2026.

The amendment aims to address some of the gaps in the current gun regulation system, which failed to prevent a 24-year-old licensed gun owner with eight legal weapons from killing 14 people at Charles University in December.

The shooter, who had a history of depression, used a pistol to kill his victims, who were students and staff. He also had an AR-10 semi-automatic assault rifle, which he used to shoot at random people from the balcony of the Arts Faculty, wounding several. He then discarded the rifle and killed himself with a shotgun.

He had bought seven of his weapons in a short period of time in the spring of 2023, without raising any suspicion. He had no criminal record and a valid gun licence, which he had obtained easily and recently.

The licence application required a doctor’s signature, but the doctor was not aware of the shooter’s psychiatric problems, which were treated by a psychiatrist who had no duty to inform the doctor.

The amendment proposes to create a new online register of guns and their owners, which would be accessible to doctors, including psychiatrists. Gun shops would have to report any suspicious purchases to the authorities. The system would also flag people who buy multiple weapons.

The amendment would also give the police the power to confiscate weapons as a preventive measure, for instance if the owners make threats on social media. This is not possible under the current law.

However, the amendment would not introduce mandatory psychological tests for obtaining a gun licence, as some other countries do. Czech doctors can request them, but they are not obliged to.

The amendment could face further changes as it goes through the legislative process. But it is unlikely to affect the constitutional right to bear arms for self-defence, which was added in 2021 after a large petition campaign that was triggered by EU efforts to restrict the ownership of weapons, including legal ones.

The Czech Republic has more than 300,000 licensed gun owners and more than a million guns, in a population of 10.7 million. The Czechs are avid hunters and biathlon enthusiasts, but most of the licences are issued for personal protection, not for hunting or sport shooting.

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