Interior minister wants to tighten gun control

In the wake of the Bratislava shootings at the beginning of this week, which cost 8 lives and 15 injured, the interior minister Daniel Lipsic has prepared a proposal to tighten gun control and the issue of gun permits. He also plans to equip the police better, by making a scorpion automatic firearm standard issue.

There is no need to undergo any kind of psychological test in Slovakia if you want to hold a gun permit. it used to be compulsory back in 1994 and 1995, but was cancelled possibly due to lobbying of hunting groups, gun clubs and the like, feels the interior minister.

The considerations now being given to the re-introduction of psychological tests have been invoked by the carnage that took place in the Devinska Nova Ves district of Bratislava on Monday of this week. The interior minister tried to reintroduce the tests back in 2002, but it was swept off the table because of pressure chiefly from hunting associations.

Now Lipsic is proposing that possession of a firearm be conditioned to passing a psychological test, which would have to be repeated every five years. At present the only requirement is a doctor’s certificate from your local GP.

Would such a step help prevent the kind of massacre witnessed in the Slovak capital this week? Many argue that it wouldn’t because even the killer, Lubomir Harman, had passed such psychological tests twice voluntarily in 1997 and 2006. Other arguments against the proposal include the fact that most killings are executed with illegal weapons.

Shooting sport associations are saying the move is too rushed, and several MPs are backing them, calling for more intense discussion of the issue before a decision is taken. There are over 57,000 hunters in Slovakia, for example, and minister Lipsic also wants to deprive them of the right to hold automatic weapons. This would affect also collectors, who would have to hand in their weapons or at the very least, have them modified.

The debate will go on, and although psychological tests might reduce the possibility of Monday’s tragedy being repeated, they certainly won’t prevent it altogether.


  1. Also useful to consider is that neighboring countries like Austria with a lower homicide rate have less strict laws for obtaining some firearms and a higher possession rate (8 guns / 100 people in Slovakia, vs. 30 guns / 100 people in Austria).
    The Czech Republic, with substantially similar firearms laws to Slovakia, has twice the rate of ownership (16 guns/ 100 people) yet a substantially similar gun-homicide rate.
    Other comparisons could be made to countries with stricter or more lenient gun control regulations and varying degrees of homicide which would only show that legal access to guns is not a particularly important part of preventing violence.

    1. You might be right on this one, but I don’t agree. Using the UK as an example, where firearms are not so used among the police, the number of shootings is generally pretty low I believe. Even so, this is changing, but I think it is more a sign of the times than anything else.

  2. I presume that “automatic weapon” actually refers to “self-loading” or “semi-automatic”, meaning that every time the trigger is pulled the weapon automatically reloads itself so as to be able to be fired again at the next trigger pull. Fully automatic weapons, e.g. machine guns, are nearly impossible in Slovakia to obtain a license for, requiring some reason, such as being an armed security guard for highly valuable goods.

    Semiautomatic pistols are the most practical self-defense mechanism. The ability to fire multiple shots at an attacker is crucial for an ordinary citizen to defend himself against an armed attacker, an attacker who inevitably will have illegally a pistol regardless of Lipsic’s proposed ban.

    Slovak society should address rather the cultural influences that lead someone to view Roma and other groups as somehow less than human and thus acceptable to kill. I would suggest that a Slovakia which tolerates the killing of 40 inconvenient unborn humans each day would easily tolerate the killing of Roma who it also often sees as a pestilence to society.

    1. Hi Andrew, sorry for posting your comment late. The attack in fact was not against the Roma at all. Only one of the victims was of Roma ethnicity, plus his 12-yr old son, who can be classed as half Roma I guess. You are right about the cultural aspect of the problem, even though in this case it turned out not to be the case. The echoes from people in society showed that there are still many people who feel hostile or indifferent to the Roma in Slovakia, whatever their reason, so ironically enough, this incident has raised issues and possibly awareness of the problem.

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