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

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.” (AFP)
Updated 27 September 2018

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

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

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.


Italy extends lockdown until ‘at least’ April 12

Updated 30 March 2020

Italy extends lockdown until ‘at least’ April 12

  • Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said any easing of containment measures would be done incrementally to ensure Italy does not give up gains it has made
  • Health Minister Roberto Speranza later announced that ‘all containment measures would be extended at least until Easter’ on April 12

ROME: Italy on Monday extended an economically crippling lockdown until “at least” mid-April to stem coronavirus infections that have claimed a world-leading 11,591 lives.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said any easing of containment measures would be done incrementally to ensure Italy does not give up gains it has made against the extraordinary disease.
The near three-week shutdown “had been very tough economically,” Conte told Spain’s El Pais newspaper.
“It cannot last very long,” he said. “We can study ways (of lifting restrictions). But it will have to be done gradually.”
Health Minister Roberto Speranza later announced that “all containment measures would be extended at least until Easter” on April 12.
Business closures and a ban on public gatherings were to have expired on Friday.
Italy was the first Western nation to impose sweeping restrictions to stem a pandemic that has claimed more than 36,000 lives worldwide.
Its own toll grew by 812 on Monday and the number of infections reported by the civil protection service surpassed 100,000.
But fresh evidence also suggested that COVID-19 was spreading more slowly than when the first victim died in Italy on February 21.
The daily rate of new infections dropped to 4.1 percent — a fraction of the 62 percent level registered a month ago.
The number of people suffering from the illness at its epicenter in the northern Lombardy region also dropped for the first time.
And the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 across the nation of 60 million people hit a new high.
“We saw 1,590 people recover in the past 24 hours,” civil protection service chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters.
“This is the highest number of recoveries recorded since the start of the pandemic.”
Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri said the latest data showed that Italy might see “a drop in the number of people infected within seven to 10 days.”
Italy’s ISS public health institute chief Silvio Brusaferro also felt the infection rate was approaching its peak.
“We are witnessing a flattening of the curve,” Brusaferro told the La Repubblica daily.
“There are no signs of a descent yet, but things are improving.”
Health officials said one of the most encouraging figures was a drop from 25,392 on Sunday to 25,006 on Monday in the number of people in Lombardy testing positive for COVID-19.
The figure had grown continuously for more than a month.
“The picture has improved a lot over the past four days,” Lombardy’s chief medical officer Giulio Gallera said.
The latest data was released nearly three weeks into a national lockdown that has emptied cities and paralyzed most business activity.
Store and restaurant closures were reinforced last week by a shutdown of “non-essential” factories.
Forecasts by several global banks and analysts point to Italian economic output shrinking by seven percent this year.