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Article published in the gazette des armes 546 of November 2021

Categories A and B for collectors ?

Collectors, custodians of heritage !

jeudi 28 octobre 2021, par Jean Pierre Bastié président de l’UFA, Jean-Jacques BUIGNE fondateur de l’UFA

Politicians have long understood that collectors participate in the preservation of heritage and are the custodians of our history. But curiously, collectors are hampered in their activities : they must deactivate, which in fact means destroying for eternity, category A and B weapons. So far, it’s simple : just follow the EU directive !

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Amateurs criticize European directives and regulations which hinder them in their activities. However, under the action of FESAC, our European federation of collectors, the directive provides that collectors can possess category A weapons, under certain conditions.

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What the European Directive sets :

« Member States may choose to grant to collectors, in individual special cases, exceptionally and in a duly reasoned manner, authorisations to acquire and possess firearms, essential components and ammunition classified in category A, subject to strict conditions on security, including the demonstration to the national competent authorities that measures are in place to address any risks to public security or public order and that the firearms, essential components or ammunition concerned are stored with a level of security proportionate to the risks associated with unauthorised access to such items. » [1]
The directive only deals with category A. Moreover, it establishes that it is a prohibited category (A), so it is a « privilege » intended to safeguard heritage.
It did not explicitly provide for the same possibility for category B since these are weapons subject to authorization. The possible authorization for category A entails the same for category B.
It thus defines the term collector : [2], « any natural or legal person dedicated to the gathering and conservation of firearms, essential components or ammunition for historical, cultural, scientific, technical, educational or heritage purposes, and recognised as such by the Member State concerned. »

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In other European states :

Collectors from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonian, Finland, Germany, Jersey, Malta, Holland and Norway can access category A and B weapons with authorization and without model date restrictions.
For category B weapons, Cypriot collectors may be allowed to acquire models prior to 1920.
As for Romanians, it is legally possible for them to be authorized for category A weapons, but there are no known examples other than museums. However, they have easy access to Category B weapons.
Spaniards may be authorized to possess category B weapons that have belonged to historical figures.
Cypriot, French and Luxembourgish collectors are deprived of the right to possess category A and B weapons. It is understandable that French collectors are annoyed to stay behind other European states, when they are in France : « mother of the arts of arms and laws. »  [3]

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La ministre déléguée avait porté la parole du gouvernement.

Why not in France ?

On the occasion of the transposition of the directive in early 2018, collectors received the support of MEPs since in the hemicycle, the words collection or collectors were spoken 166 times. And 69 deputies had co-signed 49 amendments favorable to collectors. Among these, there were 9 amendments providing for this famous authorization that collectors request for category A and B weapons. They were rejected with an unfavorable opinion from the government. At the time, Deputy Minister Jacqueline Gourault had indicated that the government did not wish to expand the number of beneficiaries of this type of authorization and that it was an « assumed choice ». While our request is quite legitimate, in 2021 we are still at the same point. Is there any hoplophobes in the Minister’s office who does not like collectors, their work on memory and their sacrifice of a lifetime ?

Efforts of parliamentarians
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On the occasion of the examination of the bill relating to criminal liability and Internal Security [4], the deputy Xavier Breton [5] defended in the law committee and in the amendments session a better taking into account of the collections of weapons and old equipment. He wanted to introduce into the Code of Internal Security, the possibility for collectors to request an « acquisition and possession » permit, from the prefecture, for weapons of categories A or B having a historical interest. That is to say for weapons of a model year prior to January 1, 1946.
The rapporteur and the government have remained insensitive to this request : the government prefers the status quo in regards to collectors

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La collection des frères Brunon est maintenant la propriété du Musée de l’Armée.

Private collections are the basis of public collections

The presence of private collections in public museums is considerable. Museums would be very empty if private collections had not enriched them over time. There is not a single museum that has not benefited from these contributions. The showcases and rooms offered to the public bear witness to this.
Certain large private collections even constitute practically in themselves a museum. This is the case with the prestigious Brunon collection which gave birth in France to the Musée de l’Empéri in Salon de Provence.
The same goes for the Sommer collection, which created the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris, in the magnificent setting of the Hôtel de Guénégaud.
And we must also mention the famous Paulhiac collection at the Musée de l’Armée at Les Invalides. All this is very good because the public finances would not be enough to acquire these treasures.
Check this link.

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Il s’agit d’une immense collection dans un Etat européen. Elle servira immanquablement de base aux futurs musés et il est improbable que les vieilles mitrailleuses réservent un jour.

What we offer :

The possibility of obtaining permits for weapons or equipment of category A and B for the holders of the collector’s card. For weapons, the model year should be prior to 1946, as we remain in the notion of heritage. Active ammunition would be prohibited, but for them, provision would be made for the possibility of deacticated ammunition with a caliber greater than 20 mm. The collector’s card prohibits shooting with a category A or B weapon.
If such a provision had been in place, it would have solved the issue faced by of a third of the weapons listed in this new category A1-11°. In this category exist antique automatic weapons (Chauchat, Johnson, Maxim MG 08, Saint-Etienne machine guns 1907, etc.) that their owners wanted to save by transforming them into “semi-auto only” or even to simple repeaters. As of now today, owners have no choice but to destroy or deactivate them.
It would also give the possibility of regularizing weapons resulting from the last war which are regularly found in the attics of homes in areas where heavy fighting took place. Today, they remain in their attic, in hiding, at the risk of one day falling into the wrong hands.


[1Directive (EU) 2021/555 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Article 9(3) explained in Recital 25

[2Art 1er § 8.

[3Joachim DU BELLAY 1522 - 1560

[4In September 2021,

[5Xavier Breton is the Member of Parliament for the 1st constituency of the Ain and is the author of the bill n°4164 in favour of collectors.

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