Czech parliament toughens gun laws after December mass shooting

 A police officer guards a street in downtown Prague, Czech Republic, on Dec. 21, 2023.
A police officer guards a street in downtown Prague, Czech Republic, on Dec. 21, 2023. Copyright AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File
By Euronews with AP
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New legislation will increase the frequency of medical checks for gun owners and require businesses to report suspicious purchases.

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The Czech Parliament has approved new firearm safety laws which tighten requirements for owning a gun following a deadly mass shooting in December which killed 14 people and injured 25 others.

According to the legislation passed on Wednesday, which must be signed by President Petr Pavel before coming into effect, gun owners will have to undergo a medical check every five years instead of every ten years, as currently required.

The law also requires businesses to report suspicious purchases of guns and ammunition to the police, while doctors will gain access to databases to find out if their patients are gun owners.

The shooting at Charles University in Prague on 22 December last year was the country's worst such incident in modern history, and highlighted how lax Czech gun laws are compared to those of other EU member states.

While gun violence has previously been rare in the country, the Czech Republic has a constitutional right to bear arms, though individuals must first obtain a gun license before purchasing a weapon. According to 2022 data from the national police, there are 1 million registered weapons in the country.

The lone gunman involved in the Charles University shooting, a 24-year-old student, legally owned several guns. He had no criminal record, according to authorities.

Parliamentary debate on the new legislation tightening gun ownership requirements had already begun before that shooting.

Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said it was hard to speculate whether the new measures would have prevented the mass shooting if they had been in effect before it took place.

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