Belgium’s Council of Ministers on Friday approved a bill making it mandatory for sales of firearms magazines to require prior authorization or a collector’s license. The aim of the measure is to withdraw the weapons from the illegal circuit. A final period of regularization will start in early 2018.
Until now, anyone could obtain a magazine for a firearm from an armourer, whether or not they had an authorization to possess a weapon. Now an authorization or collector’s license is needed, and the magazine will have to be adapted to the weapon of the prospective buyer. The new measure is thus in line with a requirement that already governs the purchase of ammunition.
Before the new obligations governing magazines apply, the Government has instituted a new, final timespan for regularizing unauthorized firearms, which will start in early 2018. Holders of illegal weapons will be able to hand them in to the police or take them to be rendered inoperative, without incurring any risk of legal action. The regularization does not cover firearms whose sale to individuals is prohibited, such as fully automatic weapons, and those linked to a judicial investigation.
After the regularization period, anyone caught with a weapon in his/her possession without the required authorization will risk a jail term of one month to five years and/or a fine ranging from 100 euros to 25,000 euros.
The problem of free sales of firearm magazines in Belgium had been raised by Prosecutor Frédérik Van Leeuw in the Chamber’s Anti-Terrorism Commission. Justice Minister Koen Geens stressed in a communique that the bill had been drawn up following consultations involving the kingdom’s security services, interest groups such as human rights defenders, and arms merchants.