The Military Vehicle Trust is very aware of the current the Proposed Directive amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on the control of the acquisition and possession of weapons. Whilst the MVT supports all steps to reduces criminal and terrorist activities, if this directive is implemented without amendment, then it will also affect many military vehicle owners that own weapons that cannot present any threat. It will become impossible for individuals to own any historic fighting vehicle with a weapon, even though the weapon is fully deactivated. This would be unnecessarily devastating and the MVT will not be able to encourage the appearance of these historic fighting vehicles at public events.
Consequently, the MVT responded in early February, via the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, of which we are a member club, and their Bob Owen then produced the draft used by the FIVA to assemble the document below.. This has since been sent the relevant parties, including MEP Vicky Ford.
Meanwhile, work urgently continues on the amendments that we feel need to be incorporated into the directive to allow for the continuing proper and responsible ownership of the nation’s heritage by people who pose no threat by their ownership of historic vehicles that incorporate fully deactivated weapons.
Proposed Directive amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on the control of the acquisition and possession of weapons
Briefing from FIVA to the European Parliament
The “Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens” (FIVA) is the worldwide body which represents owners and collectors of historic vehicles.
FIVA’s purpose is to increase the interest in and consciousness of historic vehicles around the world by emphasising both the importance they have in cultural history and the pleasure they can give to their owners and the general public in being able to use and see examples of past automotive heritage and thus to ensure that yesterday’s vehicles can continue to be used on tomorrow’s roads.
FIVA has participating bodies, known as ANFs, in all but two of the Member States of the European Union, so speaks generally for the historic vehicle movement throughout the European Union.
Among the many members that FIVA represents, a small proportion are those, including both museums and individual collectors, who preserve and collect historic military vehicles, and in particular armoured fighting vehicles, many of which carry, as part of their fitted equipment, weapons which necessarily fall within Category A.
FIVA does of course not take issue with any of the purposes or principles of the proposed amendment to the Directive regarding weapons and wishes at all times to support the security aims of the proposals.
FIVA also agrees that it is extremely important to reach consistent and effective standards of deactivation of weapons, which we are aware vary significantly among Member States.
However, it is the view of FIVA that the text, in particular amended Article 6 as drafted, will give rise to unintended consequences and thus exceed the proportionality requirements set out in paragraph 2 of the Explanatory Memorandum.
Our concerns are largely confined to the owners, incorporated and individual, of preserved armoured fighting vehicles, into which a weapon is fitted on a more or less integrated basis. It is clear that the more integrated the weapon is into the vehicle, the less possibility exists that it, or ports of it, will be redirected into the terrorist purposes against which this Directive is intended to operate.
The weapons forming part of fighting vehicles will vary in their nature from the early and thus, by modern standards, relatively ineffective and antique, through to quite recent modern weapons which will increasingly be integrated into the vehicle, for instance by forming an integrated part of the turret of the vehicle.
All weapons incorporated into military vehicles must already be in a deactivated form. The deactivation of larger and, particularly, integrated weapons is a significant engineering activity and is not able readily, if at all, to be reversed. Nor, because of their specialist nature, are these weapons likely ever to be suitable to be used either as a whole or as components of re-activated weapons.
Further, for most if not all relevant vehicles, there is no available supply of ammunition to be used in these weapons, even if they could be reactivated.
Thus FIVA does not consider that the proposals, if applied particularly to the deactivated weapons installed in fighting vehicles, would have any measureable effect whatsoever of limitation of criminal activity or improvement of the security of the peoples of Member States.
FIVA would ask that consideration be given by the Committee to amendments to the text to avoid consequences which will adversely affect the authenticity of historic fighting vehicles, and thus their value and which will, in the view of FIVA, have no positive effect on the security of the peoples of the European Union.
The first paragraph of Article 6 of the Directive reads as follows;
“Member States shall take all appropriate steps to prohibit the acquisition and the possession of the firearms and ammunition classified in category A and to destroy those firearms and ammunition held in violation of this provision and seized.”
FIVA would point out that the text as drafted appears to apply to firearms and quantities of ammunition held for the purposes of or in the normal course of military use by the armed forces of a Member State, which it is noted in passing could include inter alia corporate ownership prior to delivery to those armed forces. It is assumed that is not its intention and it may be that consideration needs to be given to a redefinition to exclude those uses.
The direct concerns of FIVA, however, relate solely to the provisions of the second paragraph of the proposed new Article 6 of the Directive, which reads as follows;
“Member States may authorise bodies concerned with the cultural and historical aspects of weapons and recognised as such by the Member State in whose territory they are established to keep in their possession firearms classified in category A acquired before [the date of entry into force of this Directive] provided they have been deactivated in accordance with the provisions that implement Article 10(b).”
The consequences of concern are as follows:
1. The word “bodies” is not defined. It is assumed that it is intended to exclude individuals, which, in the case of the owners of armoured fighting vehicles, might be regarded as incorrect. FIVA assumes the definition does include museums, but it is unclear whether Member States are
entitled to consider groups of historic military vehicle enthusiasts, incorporated or otherwise, as being a relevant “body concerned with the cultural and historical aspects of weapons”.
2. An individual owning a preserved armoured fighting vehicle could be required to destroy the complete vehicle because of the difficulty of removing the weapon from the vehicle and leaving the vehicle otherwise intact.
3. Even if the weapon could be removed without destruction of or major damage to a vehicle, the value of the host vehicle as an authentic historic artefact would be reduced by a value much greater than that of the weapon on a standalone basis.
4. The value of affected preserved military vehicles would be substantially reduced as they could not by definition be sold, even to bodies already authorised by the relevant Member State.
5. Bodies approved by Member States, however defined, would be unable, after the date of coming into force of the Directive as amended, to purchase vehicles with deactivated weapons, which they would be entitled to hold had they acquired them earlier, in order to secure the preservation of rare armoured fighting vehicles.
6. The setting of a final date of acquisition, that of entry into force of this Directive, would constitute a formal prohibition of the future preservation, for purely historic reasons, other than by a Member State’s own armed forces, of any contemporary or future fighting vehicle incorporating a weapon as it came out of service, to the detriment of the national heritage of the Member States.
7. The setting of a final date of acquisition, that of entry into force of this Directive, would mean that even bodies approved by Member States, such as museums, which are subject to changes for such as financial and curatorial reasons, would be prohibited from sharing or disposing of their collections of subject vehicles with other equally approved bodies.
8. The proposals as a whole have the effect of inhibiting and preventing the ongoing preservation of historic artefacts of genuine heritage interest and thus limiting and in part preventing the people of the European Union in general from having the opportunity to witness, enjoy, examine and study the armoured fighting vehicles of the present future which may have been very important to the preservation of their civilisation and society.
FIVA hopes that the Committee will be able to take account of these concerns and would welcome an opportunity to discuss an appropriate amendment to the second paragraph of Article 6 to take account, in whole or in part, of the above concerns.