Uproar over Dutch plan to ask race, religion of gun owners

Uproar over Dutch plan to ask race, religion of gun owners

THE HAGUE: The Dutch government has come under fire for plans to register the race and religion of gun owners following a string of European terror attacks, a news report said Thursday.

Lawmakers and gun owner associations say that the proposal by Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus risks breaching privacy rights and could be a form of “ethnic profiling.”

The proposals are part of the Dutch response to new EU guidelines to beef up gun laws after a series of terror attacks including those in Paris on November 13, 2015 in which 130 people died.

“There are diverse risks factors for gun ownership,” Grapperhaus said in a memorandum explaining the changes in a concept bill published in late June, the center-left De Volkskrant daily said.

Therefore police “required personal data including race or ethnical origin, political views and religious and philosophical convictions,” said the Christian Democrat minister, whose party forms part of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s four-party coalition.

But these inclusions “are unnecessary, even according to the minimum European guidelines,” said Monica den Boer, a lawmaker in the progressive D66 party, which is also part of the ruling coalition.

“We don’t discriminate and ethnic profile. These proposals must be dropped from the draft bill,” she told the paper.

Even some within Grapperhaus’ own party opposed the plans.

“I cannot forsee any situation justifying the inclusion of these suggestions,” said CDA lawmaker Chris van Dam.

The Royal Dutch Sports Rifling Association (KNSA) also took aim at the plans, saying it “could have a discriminatory affect” and stigmatize people.

“Almost no shooting incidents (in The Netherlands) are committed with legal weapons” apart from a major shooting in 2011, said KNSA director Sander Duisterhof.

He was referring to one of the country’s worst shootings since World War II when 24-year-old Tristan van der Vlis shot six people and wounded 16 others at a shopping mall in April that year.

Van der Vlis, who had a gun permit, unleashed a hail of automatic gunfire on lunchtime shoppers before turning the gun on himself. He had suffered from psychological problems before the shooting.

“To think that terrorists will get nervous because of these proposed new rules is wishful thinking by politicians,” Duisterhof said.

The new law will be before parliament within the next few weeks, De Volkskrant said.

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