In February, while campaigning for upcoming national elections, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini put his face and signature the Hit Show 2018, a showcase dedicated to hunting, sport shooting and “personal protection” hosted by Fiera di Vicenza.
Interviewed by the editor of Arms and Shooting, Salvini said. “I can’t wait to take away some taxes and bureaucracy,” he said. “Weapons must be taken away from criminals, not from good people who want to defend themselves. After March 5, legitimate self-defense must be re-affirmed.” He added the idea of restoring military service in order to “train” young people.
And on June 12, as Minister of the Interior following a right-wing electoral victory, he was visiting the Fap-Pietta weapons factory in Gussago, Italy. At his side the regional councillor Beccalossi and Stefano Quarena, a Lega candidate for mayor who was defeated in March.
Salvini’s support for the Italian gun lobby is a long-standing patronage. Salvini was and remains the reference politician for the 2,500 companies in the gun sector as well as of the over one million Italian licensees and arms holders.
Those appearances are emblematic the solemn commitment of Salvini with the Directive 477 Committee, an Italian association of gun lobbyists that is part of Firearms United, which want to impose the “US model” of free access to arms, despite current EU policy. He and seven other Lega deputies (as well as two FI candidates and two from FDL) signed a binding document in defense of “legal holders of weapons, sports marksmen, hunters and collectors.” Paragraph 8 of the document states with eloquent constraint: “Protect the right of citizens who are victims of crime not to be prosecuted and harmed (including economically) by the State and by their aggressors.”
The Lega has even filed a draft law in the Justice Commission of the Senate that would scrap Article 52 of the Criminal Code and introduce the “presumption of legitimate defense.” It serves as a regulatory reference to “someone who takes an action to refuse entry or intrusion by breaking in or against the will of the owner with violence or threat of use of weapons of one or more people, with violation of domicile.”
Salvini, after his triumphal election, has naturally become more than just an interlocutor. On June 2, Giulio Magnani, president of the Directive 477 Committee, wrote to the Vice Prime Minister of the Lega Federation: “Since our establishment, we have appreciated the willingness and commitment of your party to protect the legal holders of weapons, marksmen and hunters until we see, with great satisfaction, the formalization of this commitment through the document that you signed in February, and we are sure that we will soon see the intentions summarized therein transposed into concrete facts.”
Once he conquered the leadership of his party, Salvini was keen to establish relations with Conarmi, the Italian gunsmiths consortium, and to spout without hesitation the expectations of the arms lobby. In Brussels, he protested against the European option to regulate the arms sector. And he has explicitly spoken out in favor of anyone who has fired a weapon during a home invasion.
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