Almost three weeks ago, president Grybauskaitė vetoed a law, which sought to limit the citizens’ right to firearms in the case of war or the declaration of a national emergency. The law stated that firearms would be temporarily taken or requisitioned from the people if upheaval arose in the country. The president disapproved of the law and the parliament has also started to view the presidential remarks differently, Jūratė Važgauskaitė wrote in tv3.lt.
Just recently, the president’s national security advisor Živilė Šatūnienė spoke on this in the parliament, explaining that upon requisitioning firearms in case of war or national emergency, the people could lose the capacity to oppose the aggressor.
Meanwhile, the president has proposed to change the law so that firearms would only be requisitioned from the citizens in exceptional cases, when the firearms are needed by the armed forces or in case of suspicions that the firearms could be used to perpetrate crimes (all this only in the context of war or national emergency).
The president’s advisor Ž. Šatūnienė repeated in the Seimas National Security and Defence Committee (NSGK) that the president’s aim is to present the firearms and munitions control law amendments through a positive approach so that “[firearms] are retained with the exception of two cases.” Apparently, such an interpretation could place a positive “cap” on the interpretations of other laws, which are related to the firearms and munitions control law.
Ž. Šatūnienė explained that the current state of war law has a precept that talks about the state of war and the composition of the armed forces, as well as how citizens in the possession of firearms and capable of comprising partisan units could form these, with the units being subordinate to the head of armed forces.
“In this context, we have a significant segment of citizens, who have firearms training, possess firearms and could oppose,” the presidential advisor said.
She assured that even in the case of war or national emergency, partisan resistance should not be spontaneous, citizens in the possession of firearms should know, who they are accountable to. This was her response to NSGK member concerns that firearms could be used to perpetrate crimes under the state of war, to intimidate neighbours rather than defend the homeland.
That said, police and Ministry of Interior (VRM) representatives were less positive in respect to this. They express concern that under a national emergency, there can be more than two situations, where there may need to take firearms from those in the possession of them. According to them, leaving only two possibilities is short-sighted.
“We discussed hypothetically. The state of war is one situation, but God forbid, some area of Lithuania suddenly become autonomous. Thus, before one group goes to fight for one side and another for another, you could have a situation where you have to rapidly take all firearms. Leaving only two bases [to strip firearms] could be short-sighted,” police and VRM representatives mused.
Discussions on the legislation continue in Seimas, 55 members of parliament agreed to review the law at the president’s proposal. Almost 30 MPs proposed to hold the firearms and munitions control law as not approved.
The law prohibits certain semi-automatic weapons to be in civilian use, however, they would be accessible to Riflemen’s Union members and volunteer soldiers. This law was passed by converting the European Union directive, which was initiated following jihadi attacks in Europe.