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EU court rejects Gibraltarian bid for EU firearms permit

Local shooting enthusiasts cannot apply for an EU permit allowing them to travel around Europe with firearms because the relevant legislation does not apply to Gibraltar, the European Court of Justice ruled yesterday.

The decision stemmed from a case brought by members of the Gibraltar Target Shooting Association, who wanted to apply for EU permits to facilitate their travel to international competitions.

The Luxembourg court had been asked in 2016 by Gibraltar’s Supreme Court to clarify whether aspects of an EU directive on firearms extended to Gibraltar.

Among other things, the directive establishes a European Firearms Pass which entitles target shooters and hunters to travel to EU Member States with their firearms.

But in a judgement yesterday, the European Court of Justice ruled that the permits were not available local enthusiasts because they related to the free movement of goods and Gibraltar was outside the EU Customs union.

The court rejected legal arguments that exemptions for those travelling to sporting events were possible.

This was a landmark case because it was the first time that a Gibraltar court had made a preliminary reference to the European court for guidance on a complex issue of EU law.

The EU court said it was for Gibraltar’s Supreme Court to determine any issues of costs.

The members of the shooting association were represented in the case by Lewis Baglietto, QC, and Charles Bonfante.

The Attorney General, Michael Llamas, QC, and Yvette Sanguinetti of the Government Law Offices appear for the Gibraltar Government.

The UK Government, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union were also represented in the case.

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