Fabian Demicoli

The GRTU Arms Dealers Section (ADS)

The newly set
up GRTU Arms Dealers Section (ADS) is thriving to upgrade the regulatory
framework regarding dealers of weapons and ammunition in Malta, as well as
harmonizing the 91/477/EEC (Arms Directive) which is still in direct conflict
with Maltese Law in various aspects.

Following
talks held with the Commissioner of Police, the ADS has made substantial
proposals to the Commissioner of Police, who is responsible for the Ballistics
Office, as well as to the Weapons Board, which is chaired by Brigadier Maurice
Calleja.

One of
the main bones of contention relates to Legal Notices 75 and 76 of 2013, which
came into force on the 26th February 2013 after several months of discussions
with the outgoing Weapons Board. The changes introduced by these Regulations
were greatly welcomed by the entire community of shooters, collectors, range
operators and dealers.

Nonetheless the
ADS has been informed that L.N. 75 of 2013 is to be repealed, and replaced with
an all new set of regulations. The ADS strongly believes that this Legal Notice
contains provisions that are vital to all stakeholders and any changes could
very well compromise the important progress that has been made. It is yet
unclear what changes the Commissioner of Police would like to make.

The ADS
has however welcomed the Commissioner of Police's commitment to overhaulthe
current Import License system that is archaic and obsolete when compared to
other EU countries. Nevertheless the Commissioner insists that he wants to
introduce a capping quantity for dealer's sales over the previous year. The ADS
opposes this unwarranted controlling procedure.

The use
of Import and export licenses for intra-EU trade goes against EU regulations.
These instead establish the EU transfer form ("prior consent form") as the only
document to be used for intra-EU trade. Article 11(3) of 91/477/EEC (Arms
Directive) stipulates that Member States may issue an authorization valid for
three years that covers the transfer of firearms from/to all 28 Member States.
Quantities, values and serial numbers need not be stated. Imports from Third
Countries would remain subject to a Trade Import License that is issued by the
Director of Trade Services after Police approval. In this case too dealers
oppose the introduction of quotas.  The
ADS opines that any applications with abnormally large quantities should be
dealt with directly with the applicant rather than with blanket limitations on
all dealers.

Currently
all exports irrespective of whether to EU Member States or otherwise are
subject to Police and Malta Foreign Affairs approval prior to the issue of an
Export Authorization by the Director of Trade Services. In the case of intra-EU
trade this is again in breach of the EU Directive: only an EU transfer form
should be used in such cases.

With
regards to exports to third countries, it is the Director of Trade Services
that must issue the export authorization after receiving Police and MFA
clearance. This is what is being done at present. This procedure is generally
applied to exports to approved Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs) for
anti-piracy operations and is in full conformity with our international
obligations.

All this
uncertainty is substantially prejudicing Maltese Arms Dealers' business. These
entrepreneurs have sought to adhere to their very tough legal framework and
have even succeeded in attracting business to the island. Continued delays
however are undermining our country's credibility with serious clients.

The GRTU
endorses Government's initiatives aimed at building upon and improving existing
legislation while cutting down on red tape, however any measures need to be
made for a better future and only after serious consultation with the GRTU's
ADS.

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