Posted on September 28, 2018

Dutch Gov’t Wants to Register Race, Religion on Firearm Permits

Janene Pieters, NL Times, September 27, 2018

The Dutch government wants to register the race, ethnicity, political views, and religion or philosophical conviction of anyone who applies for or renews a firearm license. These new requirements for firearm licenses are written in a legislative proposal that will be submitted to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, next month, the Volkskrant reports.

The bill is a modification of the Weapons and Ammunition Act. The changes are made to comply with a tightened European directive on the possession of weapons, following a series of terrorist attacks in Europe. The objective of the directive is to improve the traceability of firearms within the EU through proper registration, to facilitate automated data exchange, and to combat illegal firearm possession, according to the newspaper.

For the Dutch government, this means registering privacy sensitive details and storing them for 30 years, according to the newspaper.

“Risk factors for weapon possession are diverse”, Ministers Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security and Carola Schouten of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality – involved in the bill because of hunting permits – said in the explanatory notes to the law. For this reason the police need information “from various sources” to weigh “whether it is safe to allow someone to own a weapon” when a gun license is requested.

Coalition parties CDA and D66 have major objections to this. “We must not cross this privacy limit”, D66 parliamentarian Monica den Boer said to the newspaper. “According to the minium requirements of the European directive, it is also not necessary at all. We do not promote discrimination and ethnic profiling, so these special personal details have to be removed from the bill.” CDA parliamentarian Chris van Dam said: “I can not imagine a situation that justifies this being included in the law.”

The Dutch Personal Data Protection Authority sees no justification in the European directive for these far reaching measures in the new Weapons Act. “For the time being, the necessity (…) of the processing of the said special personal data by the police is not sufficiently justified”, the authority said, according to the newspaper.

Sander Duisterhof, director of sports shooting association KNSA, believes that the new registration “can have a discriminating and stigmatizing effect”. According to him, there are “almost no” incidents involving legally registered weapons. “That terrorists would now become nervous about these new regulations, is an idea of politicians”, he said to the Volkskrant.