The Austrian government is planning to tighten the rules for owning weapons for several categories of the country’s third country nationals, including asylum seekers, illegal migrants, and those without an EU residence permit, with a new law expected to come into force in 2019, as reported by the local outlet Kurier.
The planned legislation would forbid them to acquire, own and carry weapons like flick knives and butterflies, but still allows for having kitchen or hunting knives. The wrongdoers would reportedly face fines and subsequent imprisonment, if they fail to pay. It is also supposed to impact the asylum procedure as well.
According to the Austrian outlet, the number of attacks with hacking or stabbing weapons has nearly doubled over the past 5 years, while the rate of violent crimes fell on the whole. Moreover, foreigners living in Austria are the most common suspects in such cases.
The Kurier cites the country’s interior minister Herbert Kickl, representing the right wing FPÖ in Sebastian Kurz’s conservative government, pointed out that in 2017 more than 3,000 attacks took place, with 287 committed Afghans and 169 committed by Turks. According to stats, cited by the German Zeit newspaper, in 635 out of 1,060 registered attacks with stabbing weapons were allegedly suspects who had come from abroad.
"We need to react as a security authority. That is why the ban on weapons for asylum seekers or those entitled to asylum will in the future not only include firearms but all forms of weapons, " the minister said, as cited by the media.
Asylum seekers and people from non-EU countries, living in Austria, haven’t been allowed to carry firearms since 2016. Banning bladed weapons for them is part of a bigger new bill, which is to be introduced on September 8. The current weapon legislation is being altered to comply with the new EU weapon directive, among others.