On 09 July 2021, the World Customs Organization (WCO) announced the publication of a “Handbook on Firearms for Customs and Border Guards”, which is available for officers controlling passengers and vehicles in the European Union (EU) and wishing to boost their capacity to detect, handle and seize firearms, along with firearm parts and ammunition.
Published by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the Handbook looks at methods of arms trafficking and provides guidelines on search techniques as well as on security measures to be taken when handling seized firearms and ammunition.
It also brings together comprehensive knowledge of firearms, their parts and ammunition, supplemented by references to relevant documentation. It was jointly developed by national and international experts*, including those of the WCO Secretariat who made a substantial contribution to the sections dealing with definitions, risk analysis, case studies and modus operandi of traffickers.
Although it currently only focuses on the regulatory and operational framework within the EU, it will soon be further enhanced to include information on other regulations and border environments. This “international” version is expected to be issued at the end of 2021 and will be distributed to WCO Members by the Secretariat.
The current EU version is available to EU Customs Officers and Border Guards, through Frontex, in English and French and will be translated into the 12 languages of the countries located at the EU’s external land borders: Croatian, Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian, Polish, Estonian, Finnish, Slovak, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Norwegian.
* The Handbook was developed under the guidance of the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs and of the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union of the European Commission. This work was co-led by representatives of the Governments of Poland, Slovenia and Romania and by Members of the European Firearms Expert Group. Support was also provided by the WCO, the EU Customs Cooperation Working Party, Europol, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the South-Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine.
Story by: Riaan de Lange