Guns Worldwide: The Czechs Are Fighting to Constitutionally Recognize…
On the worldwide stage it appears that the fight to keep guns in the hands of private citizens is tilted towards firearm prohibitionists. In just the last year both New Zealand and Canada significantly tightened firearms ownership, both in response to separate mass-shootings, and have demanded their citizens hand over just about any effective modern firearm. The former enacted gun control via Parliamentary decision, and the latter used executive power; efforts exist against these corresponding decisions in both countries, with the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners mounting a campaign to resist and reform the decision, and the Canadian Shooting Sports Association challenging the legality of the executive action respectively. While it’s great to see gun owners in both nations work to overturn or revise those decisions, neither country recognizes the right to bear arms in their constitutions. In fact, there are only only three nations in the world that do: Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States.
There may soon be a fourth, however.
Recently a bill was introduced in Czechia’s senate to amend their constitution and formally codify the long-standing tradition of keeping arms for self-defense. The small Central European country has a rich history of producing quality firearms that dates back hundreds of years, and is one of the few nations in the world that permits the carrying of concealed firearms in public. The amendment states (translated courtesy of Google):
The right to defend one’s life or the life of another person even with a weapon is guaranteed under the conditions stipulated by law.
This is building on the nation’s recent commitments to protecting their citizen’s privilege to remain armed in light of the European Union’s recent crack-down on member nations whose gun laws are “too lax,” in the opinion of Brussels. You may remember the May 2019 referendum in Switzerland, another gun-friendly European nation, was pressured by the European Union to enact additional restrictions. Although not a member of the European Union, Switzerland voted to tighten it’s nation’s gun laws to avoid losing membership to the Schengen zone—the agreement that allows citizens travel freely for all lawful purposes without border checks—by nearly a 2:1 ratio. While anti-gun advocates around the world like to use the admittedly disappointing vote as proof that the support for private gun ownership is dropping in Switzerland—a nation known for it’s lax private ownership laws and it’s strong tradition of maintaining a well-regulated militia of Swiss citizens—it was likely instead considered a pragmatic move viewed as necessary to Switzerland’s economic survival. Indeed, one comment from a Swiss citizen in a May 2019 article in The Guardian suggests as much: “It has nothing to do with blackmail, it is just that Switzerland has to align itself with a system in which it participates.”
Unlike Switzerland however, Czechs appears to be pushing back. As reported by Ammoland last month, the measure received as many as 100,000 signatures in support. This is significant considering the total population is just a hair over 10 million; it is even more significant considering this also appears to be several years in the making and the pro-gun efforts are gaining momentum, instead of losing it. This follows some other notable developments, like a 2017 challenge to the EU directive (in which Luxembourg and Poland joined) and a lower-House pro-firearms vote in the same year.
The fate of this bill notwithstanding, it’s introduction is a net-positive; as mentioned in a recent Open Source Defense article, the pro-gun movement is anti-fragile. Threats tend to result in a stronger response, instead of weaker ones. If there is any lesson to be learned by the Czech efforts here, it’s that momentum can beget momentum. By maintaining our efforts both inside and outside the legislature and engaging in fellowship with potential gun owners, we can collectively rebuild the culture of firearms ownership and the attitude and spirit of self-determination to which firearms lend themselves, and solidify the right to bear effective arms for our posterity—no matter where they live.