Shooting At FFUK: Firearms License – Facts And Myths

December 21, 2023, engraved itself in the history of the Czech Republic. Following the shooting at the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University, 15 lives, including the perpetrator who likely committed suicide, were tragically and senselessly lost. This incident sparked a warranted debate online about the firearm legislation in the Czech Republic and how a shooter could possess legal firearms and a firearms license. These discussions are riddled with errors, falsehoods, and myths from individuals who have never read the firearm laws. What about the firearms license? What are the facts and myths? There are several.

Before delving into that, I want to express that what occurred is horrifying. Considering the events leading up to the shooting several days before at the university, a total of 16 lives, including the shooter, were lost. It’s terrifying and unfathomable. Personally, I cannot empathize, nor do I want to, with the role of parents who lost their children here. The same goes for the bereaved who lost parents, colleagues, and friends to one psychologically disturbed individual. I’d like to extend my sincere condolences to all the bereaved.

Firearms license – Facts and Myths

Střelba na FFUK: zbrojní průkaz - fakta a mýty

What do you need to fulfill to acquire a firearms license?

After the shooting incident, many people are questioning the alleged leniency of the Czech Republic regarding firearm possession and obtaining a firearms license. However, not everyone knows the conditions a firearms license holder must fulfill before purchasing a weapon for personal possession. Let’s break it down point by point.

  • Medical examination
  • Submission of application at the local Czech Police department
  • Completion of the examination
  • Waiting for the Czech Police decision

Initially, the applicant must visit their district physician for a medical examination. During this check-up, the physician determines whether the applicant is medically fit for firearm possession for personal use. We’ll delve into psychological tests shortly. If the district physician deems the applicant fit, they issue a decision, and the applicant must proceed to the local Czech Police department to enroll for the examinations required to obtain a firearms license.

The examination itself consists of three phases: written tests, handling firearms expertise, and shooting proficiency. For the written tests, the applicant must prepare and learn more than 600 questions. Some errors are allowed, but too many mistakes are disqualifying. The type of firearms license category you aim to obtain matters as well. Typically, the strictest is category E: firearm possession for life, property, and health protection. It allows carrying a concealed weapon.

If you pass the written test, you’ll demonstrate your ability to handle a weapon in front of a commissioner. Typically, this involves proper handling, aiming in a safe direction, finger placement on the trigger, weapon inspection, and disassembling and reassembling the firearm.

Upon passing this test, you proceed to shooting exercises and must fire a specific number of rounds into a target at a predetermined distance. After successfully completing the exams, you receive confirmation of your successful test completion, which you bring back to the local police department.

Is successfully passing the firearms test enough to acquire a firearms license?

Střelba na FFUK: zbrojní průkaz - fakta a mýty

No, that certainly isn’t all you need to acquire a firearms license. As I mentioned earlier, after passing the test, you return to the Police department, where you submit the document confirming successful test completion. Now, it’s up to the Police to decide whether to issue or deny your firearms license. Your past and criminal record are crucial factors. If you’re deemed unreliable or have a criminal record, despite passing the tests, the Police will reject your application, and you won’t receive a firearms license. This serves as a secondary filter after the tests that you must pass.

Therefore, it’s evident that successfully passing the test by no means grants you the right to own a weapon or obtain a firearms license. The Police have a legally designated period to decide whether to issue you a firearms license or not. If they decide in your favor, only then have you succeeded. You can return to the local Police department and collect your firearms license.

To purchase a weapon, you’ll additionally need to request what’s known as a “purchase permit” from the Police. Only with both the firearms license and the purchase permit can you head to a store and buy a weapon. Within 10 working days, you must return the purchased weapon to the Police, who, based on the firearm’s serial number of the barrel and frame, will issue a weapon card. Only then are you a legal weapon holder and can carry it concealed if you have a category E firearms license.

Psychological Assessment

This is the biggest misconception people believe. A psychological assessment is not required when applying for a firearms license. It simply isn’t. There’s only one exception: your district physician may request a psychological assessment if they find it necessary before conducting a medical examination. This could be due to past mental health treatments, such as for depression, schizophrenia, paranoia, or other psychological issues.

If your district physician is uncertain about your mental health, they might send you for psychological tests. A state-appointed psychologist with the necessary certification determines whether you are mentally fit or not. If the psychologist rejects your firearms license, it’s the end, and you won’t proceed to the tests. However, if they deem you mentally fit, you can continue and have a chance to obtain the license.

Therefore, psychological tests are not conducted unless deemed crucial by the district physician.

Periodic Medical Check-ups

Many people have complained about the necessity of regular checks, similar to those for seniors or driving licenses. Regarding medical checks, they are indeed required. A firearms license holder must undergo regular medical check-ups, during which their district physician determines whether they can continue holding the firearm and firearms license. These checks have two intervals: every five and ten years. For firearms licenses of categories A, B, C, E, the interval is 10 years. You need to undergo a new medical examination and extend your firearms license at the Czech Police based on this check-up. For category D, which is for occupational purposes, the regular medical check-up is halved to 5 years.

What are the categories, and what about age restrictions?

Střelba na FFUK: zbrojní průkaz - fakta a mýty

There are a total of 5 categories of firearms licenses. Specifically, these are:

  • A – Collecting (requirement: 21 years and above)
  • B – Sport (requirement: 18 years and above)
  • C – Hunting (requirement: 18 years and above)
  • D – Employment (requirement: 21 years and above + more frequent medical checks)
  • E – Health, Property, and Life Protection (requirement: 21 years and above – allows concealed carry)

As with everything, there are exceptions here too:

  • If the applicant is a member of a sports organization involved in shooting, they can be issued a Category B license at the age of 15.
  • If the applicant is a student at a school where wildlife education is part of the curriculum, they can obtain a Category C license from the age of 16.
  • If the applicant is a student at a school where the curriculum includes rifle-related fields or ammunition education, they may be issued a Category D license if they are over 18 years old.

Can a firearm license holder buy any weapons?

No, they cannot. There are several categories of firearms and ammunition, and a firearm license holder can only purchase weapons according to what their license permits. However, there is one group of firearms that you simply cannot buy without an exception from the Police. It falls under category A, which includes prohibited firearms. These types of firearms include:

  • Especially powerful firearms
  • Automatic firearms (firing in bursts)
  • Manufactured or modified in a way that conceals their purpose, or where the original character and appearance have been altered to potentially cause more severe consequences by their use, or firearms disguised as other objects (concealed weapons)
  • Firearms made from non-metal materials, if they are not identifiable as firearms during personal and luggage checks using detection and X-ray devices
  • Trap-firing devices

As you can see, category A includes, for example, any firearm capable of firing in bursts instead of individual shots. These cannot be purchased without a special exemption from the Police.

However, in 2021, a law amendment was passed that specifies firearms and ammunition under Category A, creating a subcategory called A1. This category allows firearm license holders to possess accessories and ammunition previously prohibited before the amendment. For category A1, you need to obtain an exemption from the police. This exemption is formal and involves submitting an application. A1 includes items such as oversized firearm magazines, ammunition with higher stopping power, or automatic firearms modified to fire only individual shots. Additionally, the amendment allowed the use of firearm suppressors at shooting ranges and the use of laser sights.

Firearm License – Facts and Myths Conclusion

The shooting at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University is undoubtedly condemnable and incredibly tragic. Nevertheless, firearm legislation in the Czech Republic remains well thought out and functional, despite this terrible incident. It is important to note that the vast majority of criminal acts involving firearms are committed using illegally held weapons.

We rank among the safest countries globally, partly because citizens of the Czech Republic have the right to carry firearms if they meet all the conditions mandated by the law. For instance, Great Britain completely banned all firearms, including non-lethal ones, and now they face a rise in knife attacks and illegal weapons. The attacker has a certainty—they know potential victims will be unarmed. That certainty does not exist here. Never. And from a safety standpoint, that’s entirely appropriate.

Of course, exceptions confirm the rule, and unfortunately, even with legally held firearms, someone can commit a crime. In this particular case, it’s genuinely terrifying. Nevertheless, such cases are extremely rare. This also demonstrates that the firearm legislation in the Czech Republic is strict and effective.

How could it be improved? Perhaps only through mandatory psychological tests, although this is more of a question for experts. However, there remains a big question mark here. A person with psychopathic traits is usually highly intelligent and can prepare very well for such a psychological test. Therefore, it’s questionable whether a psychologist would identify any problematic personality traits. This is a matter open for discussion.

What definitely wouldn’t solve anything is what some people are calling for—banning weapons outright. A weapon itself is not evil, aggressive, or murderous. It’s the person holding the weapon. It has always been and always will be that only a good person with a weapon can stop a bad person with a weapon. Banning weapons as such certainly won’t solve the problem.

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