Selling guns online and illegally possessing weapons is already punishable in Belgium, but buying weapons via the internet is still legal. However, a tightening of gun legislation will soon close the loophole through which people were circumventing the law.
The 2006 weapons law states that people buying a weapon must register with a physical arms dealer and have the necessary licences, however, it did not explicitly prohibit the purchase of weapons over the internet, it only included specific rules on selling guns in this manner.
The legislation's unclarity regarding the purchasing of online guns at a distance (via the internet, being delivered by a mail-order company), made prosecuting people who did so extremely difficult.
This also led to security forces in Belgium noticing an increasing number of unlicensed weapons being purchased on foreign websites to be delivered by mail order. Buyers of these guns were only in violation of the current law when they carried the weapon without having their licence at hand.
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On Thursday, the Federal Parliament approved a draft law that will close this loophole, meaning purchasing weapons over the internet will now be explicitly made punishable.
In the fight against organised crime, it is very important to close all gaps in the weapons legislation," Vincent Van Quickenborne, Minister of Justice, said.
"Criminal organisations know better than anyone how to exploit these loopholes. With this change in the law, police and public prosecutors will have more clout because they will now be able to intercept these weapons earlier without the purchasers getting off scot-free."