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Czech Government Endorses Human Right to Armed Self-Defense Constitutional Amendment

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The Czech Republic continues to be at the forefront of the battle for gun rights in Europe. On July 13, the Czech government announced that it endorsed a plan to enshrine the right of individuals to use a firearm to defend themselves and others in the central European nation’s constitution. The move comes three years after another pro-gun constitutional amendment passed the Czech Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of the Czech Parliament) but failed to receive final approval.

Last September, 35 members of the Czech Senate introduced legislation to amend the Czech Constitution’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. The proposal would alter the charter to include language that roughly translates to the following, “The right to defend one’s life or another’s life and weapons is guaranteed under the conditions laid down by law.”

In a document explaining the forwarded change, the senators noted, “The current proposal… strengthens the fundamental rights of individuals. The proposal itself introduces a constitutional enshrinement of the right to defense with arms.” The item goes on to explain, “Given the importance of the right to life, which is the most basic right, because without life other human rights cannot be fulfilled, the proposal considers it appropriate to symbolically elevate this right to the constitutional level.”

According to European news source Euractiv, the Senate proposal came about in part due to a grassroots gun rights effort akin to those that have made Second Amendment supporters such a political force in the U.S. Pro-gun activists had presented senators with a petition containing more than 100,000 signatures in support of greater protection for gun rights.

According to a report from the Czech News Agency (CTK), the Czech government was expected to remain neutral on the self-defense amendment, but changed its position after “an intense debate.” The proposal earned the support of Czech Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar, who cited “security developments” as a reason to back the measure.

Part of the impetus for the proposed amendment is the ongoing efforts by the European Union to curtail civilian firearm ownership. Following the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, the European Union expedited plans to overhaul the Firearms Directive, which sets forth the minimum threshold of gun control that each Member State must enact. The final version of the overhauled European Firearms Directive placed new rules on almost every aspect of gun ownership; from severe restrictions on the types of semi-automatic firearms a civilian may possess to more stringent gun owner licensing requirements. EU member states were expected to conform their national laws to the Firearm Directive’s dictates by December 2019.

The chief proponent of the amendment is the conservative Civic Democrats party. According to CTK, the Civic Democrats believe the amendment “should help the country oppose the de-armament tendencies of the European Union and prevent [gun rights] from being limited by regular legislation.”

U.S. gun owners should stand in solidarity with their counterparts in the Czech Republic as they work to preserve armed self-defense as a fundamental human right and combat the efforts of transnational agents of civilian disarmament.

Article by NRA-ILA

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