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On the limitations on the right to possess weapons

Case no 35/2014-55/2014

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
IN THE NAME OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF PARAGRAPH 4 (WORDING OF 29 JUNE 2012) OF ARTICLE 2 OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW AMENDING THE LAW ON THE CONTROL OF WEAPONS AND AMMUNITION WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

2 February 2016, no KT6-N3/2016

Vilnius

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Elvyra Baltutytė, Vytautas Greičius, Danutė Jočienė, Pranas Kuconis, Gediminas Mesonis, Vytas Milius, Egidijus Šileikis, Algirdas Taminskas, and Dainius Žalimas

The court reporter – Daiva Pitrėnaitė

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1 and 531 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, at the Court’s hearing, on 6 January 2016, considered under written procedure constitutional justice case no 35/2014-55/2014 subsequent to:

1) the petition (no 1B-44/2014) of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court (Vilniaus apygardos administracinis teismas), a petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph does not provide that the limitations established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), which are more stringent than those established in the previously valid Paragraph 2 (wording of 4 December 2007) of Article 18 of the said law, do not apply to persons who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons, but who possessed gas pistols (revolvers), which have been, since 1 March 2011, classified as category C weapons if the circumstances that allow the application of the limitations came into existence prior to the entry into force of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 7 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, as well as the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

2) the petition (no 1B-71/2014) of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania (Lietuvos vyriausiasis administracinis teismas), a petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph does not provide that the limitations established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), which are more stringent than those established in the previously valid Paragraph 2 (wording of 4 December 2007) of Article 18 of the said law, do not apply to persons who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons, but who possessed the weapons that have been, since 1 March 2011, classified as category C weapons if the circumstances that allow the application of the limitations came into existence prior to the entry into force of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 7 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

By the Constitutional Court’s decision of 30 December 2015, the aforesaid petitions were joined into one case, which was given reference no 35/2014-55/2014.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

1. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court and the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, the petitioners, considered the administrative cases in which individuals appealed against decisions of the Vilnius County Chief Police Office (Vilniaus apskrities vyriausiasis policijos komisariatas) by which they had been refused to be issued a permit to hold (carry) weapons.

The petitioners, having found that there were sufficient grounds for doubting the constitutionality of Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, suspended the consideration of the administrative cases and applied to the Constitutional Court, requesting an investigation into the compliance of the said paragraph with the Constitution.

2. The petitions of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court and the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania are substantiated by the following arguments.

2.1. According to Paragraph 2 (wording of 18 November 2010) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, persons who, prior to the entry into force of this law (on 1 March 2011), had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), the possession of which required no permit under the previously valid legal regulation, were to submit an application until 1 January 2014 in accordance with the procedure established by the Government or its authorised institution and to obtain a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons.

2.2. Under Paragraph 1 of Article 17 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), only natural persons of good repute may acquire and hold weapons of categories B and C. Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of this law provides for more stringent criteria (compared to those established in the previously valid wording of Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition) that must be met by a person in order for him/her to be considered of good repute.

2.3. The applicants in the administrative cases had not been issued permits to hold (carry) a gas gun (revolver) and a low-powered revolver, as these individuals did not comply with the requirements as to good repute that are established in the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition in its wording of 18 November 2010.

Paragraph 2 of Article 4 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition that had been in force before the entry into force of the impugned legal regulation stipulated that the more stringent limitations laid down in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) did not apply if those weapons had been acquired and the circumstances due to which those limitations could have been applied had occurred prior to the entry into force of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition.

2.4. According to the impugned legal regulation, established by the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, which was adopted on 29 June 2012, the more stringent limitations imposed by Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) did not apply to persons who, on 28 February 2011, had a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons if the circumstances due to which those limitations could have been applied had occurred prior to the entry into force of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition. Thus, before the expiry of the period during which the conditions that were established in the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Arms and Ammunition should have been in force and on the basis of which the more stringent limitations imposed by Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) did not apply, this legal regulation was amended: it was prescribed that the more stringent limitations imposed by Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) did not apply only to a much narrower circle of persons, i.e. only to those who, on 28 February 2011, had a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons. Therefore, individuals who had applied for permits to hold (carry) firearms already in their possession, where the said weapons had been classified in category D, but from and after 1 March 2011 were classified in category C, turned out to be in an unequal position due to the time of filing relevant applications.

2.5. The impugned legal regulation obviously worsened the legal situation of those persons who, according to the previous legal regulation, had not been subject to the requirement to have a permit to hold (carry) firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), and who did not have such a permit. Such a legal regulation imposing more stringent limitations (requirements as to good repute) has retroactive effect – the said persons are not guaranteed the possibility of continuing to exercise the right to hold (carry) firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), although they acquired this right on reasonable grounds under the previous legal regulation. The impugned legal regulation guarantees such a right to persons who, prior to the amendment of the legal regulation, were able to obtain permits to hold (carry) weapons, although there are no objective differences that can justify the different legal regulation established for these groups of persons. In the opinion of the petitioners, the impugned legal regulation violates the provisions of Paragraph 2 of Article 7 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, as well as the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

II

In the course of the preparation of the case for the hearing of the Constitutional Court, written explanations were received from the representatives of the Seimas, the party concerned, who were Seimas member Darius Petrošius, Vitalij Dimitrijev, the Head of the Office of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence, and Olga Kaika, the chief specialist from the Criminal and Administrative Law Unit (now called the Public Law Unit) of the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas, wherein it is maintained that the impugned legal regulation is not in conflict with the Constitution. The position of the representatives of the party concerned is substantiated by the following arguments.

1. The principle of lex retro non agit means that the force of the laws, passed by the legislature and published, is prospective; however, under certain conditions, the retroactive effect of laws is allowed. The impugned legal regulation is prospective, as the new procedure for issuing permits for holding (carrying) weapons is applicable from and after the entry into force of the impugned legal regulation; therefore, the principle of lex retro non agit is not violated.

2. The principle of the equality of the rights of persons, which is enshrined in Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, should be interpreted in conjunction with the provisions of Paragraph 2 of the same article. Since the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition does not restrict the rights of persons on the grounds of gender, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, belief, convictions, or views, this legal regulation is not discriminatory and cannot be considered to be in violation of Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution.

3. In its ruling of 12 April 2001, the Constitutional Court held that weapons and ammunition may be a danger to public order and public safety, to human life and health; therefore, the legislature, when taking account of the necessity to ensure public order and public safety, to protect human rights and freedoms, is empowered to establish the conditions and procedure for the entry into civilian circulation of weapons and ammunition, for their possession and use, and for the issue of permits to acquire weapons. To the extent necessary for the protection of public safety and public order, as well as human rights and freedoms, different conditions may be imposed on the issue of permits to acquire weapons for certain categories of persons.

Thus, by the legal regulation established in the impugned provision, the legislature not only pursued the positive goals in ensuring public safety, but also carried out its constitutional duty.

4. In exercising its constitutional competence to pass laws, the legislature must pay regard to the Constitution. There are no legal norms in the Constitution that oblige the legislature to establish one or another basis for when a person is allowed to hold a weapon or when he/she is not allowed to hold it.

Thus, the legislature, while using its discretion and having regard to the necessity to ensure public order and public safety, established the impugned legal regulation, which does not violate Paragraph 2 of Article 7 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, as well as the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

III

In the course of the preparation of the case for the hearing of the Constitutional Court, written opinions were received from Audrius Jakutis, the Head of the Legal Division of the Police Department under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania, Edita Kisielienė, the Deputy Director of the Criminal Law Group of the Department for Legal Research and Legal Summaries of the Supreme Court of Lithuania, and Prof. Dr. Snieguolė Matulienė, the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Law of Mykolas Romeris University.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

1. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, a petitioner, requests an investigation into whether Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph does not provide that the limitations established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), which are more stringent than those established in the previously valid Paragraph 2 (wording of 4 December 2007) of Article 18 of the said law, do not apply to persons who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons, but who possessed gas pistols (revolvers), which have been, since 1 March 2011, classified as category C weapons if the circumstances that allow the application of the limitations came into existence prior to the entry into force of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 7 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

1.1. It should be noted that, even though the petitioner requests an investigation into the constitutionality of Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph does not establish the legal regulation pointed out by the petitioner, the arguments presented in the petition make it clear that the petitioner has doubts as to the constitutionality of the implicit legal regulation established in Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, whereby persons who have gas pistols (revolvers), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons are subject to the limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), rather than to the corresponding limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002).

1.2. Thus, the petition of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court should be treated as a petition requesting an investigation into the compliance of Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph provides that persons who have gas pistols (revolvers), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons are subject to the limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), rather than to the corresponding limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), with Paragraph 2 of Article 7 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2. The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, a petitioner, requests an investigation into whether Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph does not provide that the limitations established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), which are more stringent than those established in the previously valid Paragraph 2 (wording of 4 December 2007) of Article 18 of the said law, do not apply to persons who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons, but who possessed weapons that have been, since 1 March 2011, classified as category C weapons if circumstances that allow the application of the limitations came into existence prior to the entry into force of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 7 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, as well as the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2.1. It should be noted that Paragraph 1 of Article 6 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), valid until 28 February 2011, prescribed: gas pistols (revolvers) and firearms that meet the criteria for other categories, but are not classified in those categories because of their low hitting power, and the kinetic energy of whose projectiles is between 2.5 J and 7.5 J, as well as antique weapons, are classified in category D; the said weapons may be acquired, held, and carried without a permit.

Upon the entry into force of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (on 1 March 2011), firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) (respectively, gas pistols (revolvers), antique weapons, and firearms that meet the criteria for other categories, but are not classified in those categories because of their low hitting power, and the kinetic energy of whose projectiles is between 2.5 J and 7.5 J) are no longer classified in category D, but are classified as weapons falling in category C, which may be acquired, held, and carried only after receiving a permit.

2.2. It should be noted that, even though the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, a petitioner, requests an investigation into the constitutionality of Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph does not establish the legal regulation pointed out by the petitioner, the arguments presented in the petition make it clear that the petitioner has doubts as to the constitutionality of the legal regulation that implicitly stipulates that persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons are subject to the limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), rather than to the corresponding limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002).

2.3. Thus, the petition of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania should be treated as a petition requesting an investigation into the compliance of Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph prescribes that persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons are subject to the limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), rather than to the corresponding limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), with Paragraph 2 of Article 7 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, as well as the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

3. It has been mentioned that the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court requests the Constitutional Court to examine the constitutionality of Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph provides that persons who have gas pistols (revolvers), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold or carry such weapons are subject to the limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), rather than to the corresponding limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002).

It has also been mentioned that, upon the entry into force of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (on 1 March 2011), inter alia, gas pistols (revolvers), antique weapons, and firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) are no longer classified in category D, but are classified as weapons falling in category C.

4. Thus, subsequent to the requests of the petitioners, in the constitutional justice case at issue, the Constitutional Court will examine the compliance of Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph prescribes that persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons are subject to the limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), rather than to the corresponding limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), with Paragraph 2 of Article 7 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, as well as the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

II

1. On 2 July 1996, the Seimas adopted the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, which, together with subsequent amendments and supplements thereto, was recognised as no longer valid when, on 15 January 2002, the Seimas passed a new Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, which came into force on 1 July 2003.

2. The Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002) has been amended and/or supplemented more than once, inter alia, by the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending and Supplementing Articles 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 33, 36, 37, 38, 40, and 41 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition and Supplementing the Law with an Annex, which established the legal regulation relevant in the case at issue.

3. On 18 November 2010, the Seimas adopted the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, which came into force on 1 March 2011 and set out the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002) in its new wording.

3.1. The objective of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) is to regulate the circulation of weapons, weapon attachments, and ammunition with a view to ensuring the safety of an individual, the public, and the state (Paragraph 1 of Article 1).

The purpose of this law is to lay down the provisions of the classification of weapons, weapon attachments, and ammunition into categories, to consolidate the legal basis for the circulation of weapons, weapon attachments, and ammunition, and for the control of the said circulation, as well as to establish the rights and duties of entities whose activities are related with weapons and ammunition (Paragraph 2 of Article 1).

3.2. Paragraph 21 of Article 2 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 28 November 2010) prescribes:

“‘Classification of weapons, their attachments, and ammunition’ means the classification, under this Law, of weapons, their attachments, and ammunition in one of the categories (A, B, C, or D) according to the degree of their dangerousness. Weapons, their attachments, and ammunition classified in category A are the most dangerous ones; weapons and ammunition in category D are the least dangerous ones.”

3.3. Under Article 12 (wording of 2 July 2013) and Paragraph 1 of Article 32 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), the acquisition, possession, and carrying of weapons in categories A, B, or C are possible only with a permit. Weapons in category D are acquired, held, and carried without permits in the prescribed manner.

3.4. Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 28 November 2010) prescribes:

The following weapons shall be classified in category C:

1) repeating long firearms, except repeating long firearms with smooth-bore barrels not exceeding 60 cm in length;

2) long firearms with single-shot rifled barrels or smooth-bore barrels;

3) semi-automatic long firearms other than those listed in Items 4–7 of Article 4 of this Law;

4) single-shot short firearms with rim-fire percussion whose overall length is not less than 28 cm;

5) pneumatic weapons the kinetic energy of whose projectiles exceeds 7.5 J;

6) gas pistols (revolvers);

7) antique weapons;

8) firearms that meet the criteria for other categories, but are not classified in those categories because of their low hitting power, and the kinetic energy of whose projectiles is between 2.5 J and 7.5 J.”

It has been mentioned that, under Paragraph 1 (in its previous wording valid until 28 February 2011) of Article 6 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), gas pistols (revolvers), antique weapons, and firearms that met the criteria for other categories, but were not classified in those categories because of their low hitting power, and the kinetic energy of whose projectiles was between 2.5 J and 7.5 J, were classified in category D; such weapons could be acquired, held, and carried without a permit.

Upon the entry into force of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (on 1 March 2011), firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) (respectively, gas pistols (revolvers), antique weapons, and firearms that meet the criteria for other categories, but are not classified in those categories because of their low hitting power, and the kinetic energy of whose projectiles is between 2.5 J and 7.5 J) are no longer classified in category D, but are classified as weapons falling in category C, which may be acquired, held, and carried only after receiving a permit.

Thus, after the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition in its new wording of 18 November 2010 had classified in the category of increased dangerousness (C) gas pistols (revolvers), antique weapons, and firearms that met the criteria for other categories, but were not classified in those categories because of their low hitting power, and the kinetic energy of whose projectiles was between 2.5 J and 7.5 J, and had stipulated that the acquisition, possession, and carrying of such weapons were possible only with a permit, the procedure for the acquisition, possession, and carrying of the said weapons was made more stringent.

3.5. Paragraph 2 of Article 32 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) provides that a permit to carry weapons and a permit to hold weapons and ammunition are issued for a period of five years, with the exception of weapons in category C referred to in Items 5, 6, 7, and 8 of Article 5 of this Law, for holding (carrying) which one general permit of unlimited duration is issued.

3.6. Paragraph 1 of Article 17 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) provides that natural persons who, inter alia, are not of good repute may not acquire and hold weapons of categories B and C, as well as their ammunition.

3.6.1. Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) prescribes:

2. A person shall not be regarded as a person of good repute if:

1) by an effective court judgment he/she has been declared guilty of an intentional violent crime for whose commission the greatest punishment provided for by the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter referred to as the Criminal Code) exceeds 3 years of the deprivation of freedom;

2) by an effective court judgment he/she has been declared guilty of a crime committed under the influence of alcohol, narcotic, psychotropic, or other psychoactive substances for whose commission the greatest punishment provided for by the Criminal Code exceeds 3 years of the deprivation of freedom;

3) by an effective court judgment he/she has been declared guilty of a crime committed by using explosives, explosive materials, or firearms for whose commission the greatest punishment provided for by the Criminal Code exceeds 3 years of the deprivation of freedom;

4) by an effective court judgment he/she has been declared guilty of a crime related to the possession of weapons, ammunition, explosives, explosive or radioactive materials, or military equipment, for whose commission the greatest punishment provided for by the Criminal Code exceeds 3 years of the deprivation of freedom;

5) he/she has a criminal record;

6) during the last 3 years, by a court decision, he/she has been released from criminal liability for the crimes specified in Items 1–4 of this Paragraph on bail, or upon reconciliation with the victim, or on the basis of mitigating circumstances;

7) within the last year, he/she has been tried for a criminal offence;

8) he/she is, in accordance with the procedure laid down by the law, suspected or accused of having committed a criminal act;

9) court injunctions have been issued against him/her in a manner prescribed by the Law on Organised Crime Prevention;

10) he/she has been during the last 3 years punished at least twice for gross violation of the requirements of the legal acts regulating hunting;

11) he/she has during the last 3 years committed at least 2 administrative violations under the influence of alcohol, being intoxicated with narcotic, psychotropic, or other psychoactive substances;

12) his/her permit to carry a weapon or permit to hold a weapon has been cancelled or has not been extended on the grounds of this Article, or for other violations of the circulation of weapons, and less than 3 years have passed since that moment.”

3.6.2. Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), which was in effect before the entry into force of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), stipulated the following:

2. A person shall not be regarded as a person of good repute if:

1) he/she has been convicted for an intentional crime for more than 6 years of imprisonment and less than 10 years have passed from the expiry or annulment of his/her conviction;

2) he/she has been convicted for a negligent crime that he/she committed under the influence of alcohol or being intoxicated with narcotic, psychotropic, or other psychoactive substances, or for an intentional crime (except the crime indicated in Item 1 of this Paragraph), and less than 3 years have passed from the expiry or annulment of his/her conviction;

3) he/she has been convicted of a negligent crime (except the crime indicated in Item 2 of this Paragraph) if the conviction has not expired or been annulled;

4) during the last 3 years, by a court decision, he/she has been released from criminal liability for a committed crime on bail, or upon reconciliation with the victim, or on the basis of mitigating circumstances;

5) he/she has been within the last 3 years convicted for a criminal offence;

6) within the last year, by a court decision, he/she has been released from criminal liability for a committed criminal offence on bail, or upon reconciliation with the victim, or on the basis of mitigating circumstances;

7) he/she is, in accordance with the procedure laid down by the law, suspected or accused of having committed a criminal act;

8) his/her name has been entered on the operative register or court injunctions have been issued against him/her in a manner prescribed by the Law on Organised Crime Prevention;

9) he/she has repeatedly committed an administrative violation within a period of one year by which he/she attempted to commit a crime against property, or against public order, or the administration of government;

10) he/she has been during the last 3 years punished at least twice for gross violation of the requirements of the legal acts regulating hunting;

11) he/she has during the last 3 years committed at least 2 administrative violations under the influence of alcohol, being intoxicated with narcotic, psychotropic, or other psychoactive substances;

12) his/her permit to carry a weapon or permit to hold a weapon has been cancelled or has not been extended on the grounds of this Article, or for other violations of the circulation of weapons, and less than 3 years have passed since that moment.”

3.6.3. Having compared the legal regulation entrenched in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) with that laid down in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), it is clear that Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition in its wording of 18 November 2010 has established more stringent good repute criteria compared with those provided for in the former wording of Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition: according to Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), a person was not be regarded as a person of good repute if he/she had been convicted for certain crimes, his/her convictions had not expired or had not been quashed, or a certain time period had not passed from the expiry or annulment of his/her conviction (Items 1–3), whereas, under Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), a person is not regarded as a person of good repute if he/she has a criminal record, or if, by an effective court judgment, he/she has been declared guilty of crimes for whose commission the greatest punishment provided for by the Criminal Code exceeds 3 years of the deprivation of freedom, namely, intentional violent crimes or those with characteristics qualifying them as intentional violent crimes (committed under the influence of alcohol, narcotic, psychotropic, or other psychoactive substances, or committed by using explosives, explosive materials, or firearms), or crimes related to the possession of weapons, ammunition, explosives, explosive or radioactive materials, or military equipment (Items 1–4). Thus, according to this legal regulation, not only the conviction in the sense of criminal justice, but also the fact of a person’s conviction for certain criminal acts as a fact of the life of that person, irrespective of the time elapsed from the expiry or annulment of the said person’s conviction, is deemed the basis for not considering him/her to be of good repute.

3.7. Under Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 40 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), permits to carry weapons and permits to hold weapons and ammunition classified in categories B and C are cancelled, inter alia, upon the occurrence of the circumstances referred to in Paragraph 2 (except Item 8 thereof) of Article 18 of this law.

4. Article 2 (wording of 18 November 2010) of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition lays down the procedure for the entry into force of this law and its implementation.

4.1. According to Paragraph 2 (wording of 18 November 2010) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, persons who, prior to the entry into force of this law, had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (set out in Article 1 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition) were to submit an application until 1 January 2014 in accordance with the procedure established by the Government or its authorised institution and to obtain a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons.

Thus, persons who, prior to the entry into force (on 1 March 2011) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of this law and who had a permit to hold (carry) also other weapons of any other category for holding (carrying) which a permit was necessary under the then effective legal regulation, as well as those who did not have such a permit, were to submit an application until 1 January 2014 in accordance with the established procedure and to obtain a permit to hold (carry) weapons specified in the above items.

4.2. Paragraph 2 of Article 4 (wording of 18 November 2010) of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition stipulated that the limitations laid down in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), which are more stringent than those imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition that was effective prior to the entry into force of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), did not apply to persons who acquired those weapons prior to the entry into force of this law if circumstances due to which those limitations could be applied occurred prior to the entry into force of this law.

Thus, according to this legal regulation, the limitations laid down in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), which are more stringent than those established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), do not apply to persons who acquired weapons falling in any category prior to the entry into force of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition if circumstances due to which those limitations could be applied occurred prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which this law came into force).

It should be held that the aforesaid provisions of Article 2 (wording of 18 November 2010) of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition laid down a certain transitional legal regulation, providing persons with time to adapt to a more stringent legal regulation governing the conditions and procedure for issuing permits to acquire weapons, as well as the conditions and procedure for holding and using weapons.

4.3. According to the said transitional legal regulation, persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such firearms prior to the entry into force of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (on 1 March 2011) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute (although they were considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation), were allowed, until 1 January 2014, to submit an application and obtain a permit to hold such weapons if circumstances due to which those persons are not considered to be of good repute occurred prior to the entry into force of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (on 1 March 2011), since the more stringent requirements as to good repute could not apply to such persons prior to the specified date.

5. On 29 June 2012, the Seimas adopted the Law Amending Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, which, inter alia, amended Paragraph 4 of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010). This law came into force on 12 July 2012.

5.1. Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, which is impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue, prescribes:

The more stringent limitations (compared with those imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition that was valid before the entry into force of this Law) laid down in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, which is set out in Article 1 of this Law, do not apply to persons who, on 28 February 2011, had a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons if circumstances due to which those limitations may be applied occurred prior to the entry into force of this Law.”

5.2. Thus, according to the impugned legal regulation, from and after 12 July 2012 (the date on which the Law Amending Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force), persons who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons, who had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to the entry into force of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (on 1 March 2011) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011 (although they were considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation), could no longer be issued permits to hold (carry) those weapons, since the said persons were subject to limitations more stringent than those established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), i.e. they were subject to the limitations established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010).

Consequently, the application of the more stringent requirements as to good repute began not as from 1 January 2014, as envisaged prior to the impugned amendment, but as from 12 July 2012 with regard to persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011 (although they were considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation), and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold (carry) weapons.

Thus, provided that persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011 (although they were considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation), had filed an application in accordance with the established procedure before 11 July 2012, they could have been issued a permit to hold (carry) the said weapons, which were acquired prior to the entry into force of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (on 1 March 2011); however, if these persons had filed an application after 11 July 2012, they would not have been issued such a permit, although, under Paragraph 2 (wording of 18 November 2010) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, these persons were allowed to file an application in accordance with the established procedure until 1 January 2014 and could receive a permit to hold (carry) weapons.

5.3. When interpreting the impugned legal regulation, it should also be noted that persons who, on 28 February 2011, had a permit to hold (carry) weapons of any category for holding (carrying) which a permit was necessary under the then effective legal regulation and who had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such firearms prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2010 (although they were considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation), could be issued a permit to hold (carry) the said firearms even where the applications were filed after 12 July 2012, whereas persons who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons of any category for holding (carrying) which a permit was necessary under the then effective legal regulation, but who had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such firearms prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2010 (although they were considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation), provided that they filed an application after 12 July 2012, could not be issued a permit to hold (carry) such firearms, since these persons were subject to more stringent requirements as to good repute.

6. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should also be noted that, on 23 December 2013, the Seimas adopted the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, Article 1 whereof prescribes:

In Paragraph 2 of Article 2, the word ‘January’ shall be replaced with the word ‘July’ and this paragraph shall be set out as follows:

2. Persons who, prior to the entry into force of this Law, had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, which is set out in Article 1 of this Law, are to submit an application until 1 July 2014 in accordance with the procedure established by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania or its authorised institution and to obtain a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons. […]’”

Thus, this law prolonged the term during which persons who had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) could obtain permits to hold (carry) such weapons until 1 July 2014.

III

1. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it is also necessary to mention relevant provisions of EU legislation regulating the free movement of firearms for civilian use in the territory of the European Union.

2. The Annex “EU Legal Acts Implemented by the Law on the Control Weapons and Ammunition” of the Law on the Control Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 January 2010) provides that this law implements Council Directive 91/477/EEC of 18 June 1991 on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons, as last amended by Directive 2008/51/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008.

2.1. Under Article 2 of Council Directive 91/477/EEC of 18 June 1991 on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (hereinafter referred to as Directive 91/477/EEC), this Directive is without prejudice to the application of national provisions concerning the carrying of weapons, hunting, or target shooting. In addition, the provisions of this Directive do not apply to the acquisition or possession of weapons and ammunition by the armed forces, the police, the public authorities, or by collectors and bodies concerned with the cultural and historical aspects of weapons and recognised as such by the Member State in whose territory they are established. Nor does the Directive apply to commercial transfers of weapons and ammunition of war.

Article 5 of Directive 91/477/EEC, inter alia, prescribed:

Without prejudice to Article 3, Member States shall allow the acquisition and possession of firearms classified in category B only by persons who have good cause and who:

(a) are 18 years old or more, except for hunting or target shooting;

(b) are not likely to be a danger to themselves, to public order or to public safety.

Without prejudice to Article 3, Member States shall allow the possession of firearms classified in categories C and D only by persons satisfying the conditions in point (a) of the first paragraph.

Member States may withdraw authorisation for possession of the firearm if any of the conditions in point (b) of the first paragraph is no longer satisfied.”

Article 3 of Directive 91/477/EEC prescribes: “Member States may adopt in their legislation provisions which are more stringent than those provided for in this Directive, subject to the rights conferred on residents of the Member States by Article 12 (2).”

Thus, under Article 5 of Directive 91/477/EEC, Member States could allow the acquisition and possession of firearms classified in category B only by persons who meet the requirements set in Directive 91/477/EEC – who had good cause and were 18 years old or more, except for hunting or target shooting, and were not likely to be a danger to themselves, to public order, or to public safety. The requirements of being no danger to themselves, to public order, or to public safety did not apply to persons seeking to acquire and possess firearms classified in categories C and D.

It should be noted that, under the third paragraph of Article 5 of Directive 91/477/EEC, in those cases where persons no longer satisfied any of the requirements set in point (b) of the first paragraph of Article 5 of Directive 91/477/EEC, i.e. the requirements of being no danger to themselves, to public order, or to public safety, authorisation for possession of the firearm could be withdrawn.

Under Annex I to Directive 91/477/EEC, the civilian circulation of firearms in category A is prohibited, firearms in category B are subject to prior authorisation, firearms in category C are subject to declaration, and other firearms are classified as category D weapons.

It needs to be emphasised that, in the course of implementing the provisions of Directive 91/477/EEC, Member States could adopt a legal regulation that is more stringent, save the exception specified in Directive 91/477/EEC (Article 3).

2.2. Directive 91/477/EEC was partly amended by adopting Directive 2008/51/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (hereinafter referred to as Directive 2008/51/EC).

By Paragraph 3 of Article 1 of Directive 2008/51/EC, Directive 91/477/EEC was supplemented with a new Article 4a, which prescribes:

Without prejudice to Article 3, Member States shall allow the acquisition and possession of firearms only by persons who have been granted a licence or, with respect to categories C or D, who are specifically permitted to acquire and possess such firearms in accordance with national law.”

By Paragraph 4 of Article 1 of Directive 2008/51/EC, Article 5 of Directive 91/477/EEC was amended and set out as follows:

Without prejudice to Article 3, Member States shall permit the acquisition and possession of firearms only by persons who have good cause and who:

(a) are at least 18 years of age, except in relation to the acquisition, other than through purchase, and possession of firearms for hunting and target shooting, provided that in that case persons of less than 18 years of age have parental permission, or are under parental guidance or the guidance of an adult with a valid firearms or hunting licence, or are within a licenced or otherwise approved training centre;

(b) are not likely to be a danger to themselves, to public order or to public safety. Having been convicted of a violent intentional crime shall be considered as indicative of such danger.

Member States may withdraw authorisation for possession of a firearm if any of the conditions on the basis of which it was granted are no longer satisfied. […]”

Thus, according to Directive 91/477/EEC, which was partly amended by Directive 2008/51/EC and for the implementation whereof the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) is meant, a permit to acquire, inter alia, firearms of category C may be issued to persons who have good cause, have reached a certain age, and are not likely to be a danger to themselves, to public order, or to public safety. Having been convicted of a violent intentional crime is considered as indicative of such danger and is seen as a ground for refusing the acquisition and holding of firearms or for withdrawing authorisation for possession of a firearm if such authorisation has been granted.

In this context, it needs to be emphasised that, when implementing Directive 91/477/EEC, which was partly amended by Directive 2008/51/EC, Members States were allowed to adopt in their legislation measures particularising the requirements entrenched in Directive 91/477/EEC, by making these requirements, among other things, more stringent.

IV

1. In the constitutional justice case at issue, the Constitutional Court is examining the compliance of Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition with Paragraph 2 of Article 7 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, as well as the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2. Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution provides that all persons shall be equal before the law, the court, and other state institutions and officials.

In interpreting the provisions of Article 29 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that the constitutional principle of the equality of all persons before the law, as consolidated in the said article, requires that fundamental rights and duties be established in law equally to all; this principle means the right of a person to be treated equally with others; it imposes the obligation to assess homogenous facts in the same manner and prohibits any arbitrary assessment of essentially the same facts in a different manner; however, it does not deny a differentiated legal regulation, established by law, with respect to certain categories of persons who are in different situations. The constitutional principle of the equality of persons before the law would be violated if certain persons or groups of such persons were treated in a different manner even though there are not any differences of such a character and to such an extent between the said groups of persons that would objectively justify their uneven treatment (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 29 July 2012, 15 February 2013, 6 February 2015, and 11 June 2015). When assessing whether a certain established differentiated legal regulation is well grounded, it is necessary to take into account concrete legal circumstances; first of all, consideration must be given to differences in the legal situation of the subjects and objects to which a certain differentiated legal regulation is applied (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 29 June 2010, 6 February 2012, 22 February 2013, 6 February 2015, and 11 June 2015).

3. The principle of the equality of the rights of persons, which is consolidated in the Constitution, inter alia, Article 29 thereof, is inseparable from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, which is a universal principle, upon which the entire Lithuanian legal system and the Constitution itself are based (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 28 May 2010, 15 February 2013, and 6 February 2015).

3.1. The Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law integrates various values entrenched in and protected and defended by the Constitution (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 22 October 2007, 29 June 2010, and 19 November 2015). The Constitutional Court has also consistently held that the content of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law reveals itself in various provisions of the Constitution; the essence of this principle is the rule of law; the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law is especially broad and comprises a wide range of various interrelated imperatives; this principle must be followed in the process of both making and implementing law.

3.2. The Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that legal certainty, legal security, and the protection of legitimate expectations are inseparable elements of the principle of a state under the rule of law; these constitutional principles imply the duty of the state to ensure the certainty and stability of an established legal regulation, to protect the rights of persons, to respect legitimate interests and legitimate expectations, and to fulfil the obligations undertaken to the person; if legal certainty, legal security, and the protection of legitimate expectations were not ensured, the trust of a person in the state and law would not be secured (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 4 March 2003, 15 February 2013, 8 May 2014, and 19 November 2015); persons have the right to reasonably expect that their rights acquired under valid laws or other legal acts that are not in conflict with the Constitution will be retained for the established period of time and could be implemented in reality; it is not permitted to deny the legitimate interests and legitimate expectations of persons by means of amendments to a legal regulation (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 4 March 2003, 15 February 2013, and 30 May 2013).

4. Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution provides that only laws that are published are valid.

The Constitutional Court has noted on more than one occasion that the official publication of laws in pursuance with the procedure established in the Constitution and laws is a necessary condition so that laws would be valid, that subjects of legal relations would know which laws are valid and what their content is, and that they would follow these laws (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 11 January 2001, 27 June 2007, 7 September 2010, and 15 February 2013). Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution also reflects the principle of lex retro non agit (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 11 January 2001 and 15 February 2013); the constitutional imperative that only laws that are published can be valid is inseparable from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, it is one of essential elements of this principle, and is an important precondition for legal certainty (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 29 November 2001, 27 June 2007, 26 February 2010, and 15 February 2013).

5. Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution is related to Paragraph 1 of Article 70 thereof, which states that laws adopted by the Seimas come into force after they are signed and officially promulgated by the President of the Republic, unless the laws themselves establish a later date for their entry into force.

When interpreting this provision of the Constitution in the context of the principles of legal certainty, legal security, and the protection of legitimate expectations, which stem from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, the Constitutional Court has held that changes in a legal regulation must be made in such a manner that the persons whose legal status is affected by those changes would have a real opportunity to adapt to a new legal situation; therefore, in order to create the conditions for persons not only to familiarise themselves with a new legal regulation prior to the beginning of its validity, but also to adequately prepare for the expected changes, it might be necessary to establish a later date of the entry into force of the legal regulation (the beginning of the application thereof) than that on which the said legal regulation is published; thus, in certain cases, the legislature must provide for a sufficient vacatio legis, i.e. a time period from the official publication of the law until its entry into force (the beginning of its application), within which the interested persons might be able to prepare themselves to implement the requirements arising from that law; the constitutional requirement for providing for a proper vacatio legis must also be complied with in the course of adopting other laws that establish duties or limitations with respect to persons (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 15 February 2013).

In the course of making substantial amendments to an effective legal regulation, where the said amendments create consequences unfavourable to the legal situation of persons, it may be necessary to provide not only for a sufficient vacatio legis, but also for a certain transitional legal regulation; the legal situation of persons to whom the new legal regulation is applicable should be regulated by means of transitional provisions in order that those persons would be given enough time to finish the actions started by them on the basis of the previous legal regulation, because the said persons started those actions expecting that the said previous legal regulation would be stable, and in order that such persons might implement their rights acquired under the previous legal regulation (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 15 February 2013).

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it is worth noting that the duty of the state, stemming from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, to ensure the certainty and stability of a legal regulation, among other things, means that, after introducing particular substantial amendments to a previously valid legal regulation and after establishing a certain transitional legal regulation and a time limit until which persons may implement their rights acquired under the legal regulation valid prior to the introduced amendments, the legislature must observe the established time limit and must not make any such amendments to the transitional legal regulation that would worsen the legal situation of the persons concerned, unless the necessity to derogate from this requirement is constitutionally justifiable on the grounds of the striving to ensure an important public interest.

6. The Constitutional Court has noted that, under the Constitution, the institutions of state power and governance are under the obligation to ensure the safety of the public and public order, to protect a person against any attempt on his/her life and health, and to defend human rights and freedoms. Weapons and ammunition may be a danger to public order and public safety, to human life and health; therefore, the legislature, when taking account of the necessity to ensure public order and the safety of the public and to protect human rights and freedoms, is empowered to establish the conditions and procedure for the entry into civilian circulation of weapons and ammunition, for their possession and use, and for the issue of permits to acquire weapons (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 12 April 2001 and 25 January 2013).

Weapons and ammunition may be a danger not only to a person possessing weapons and ammunition himself/herself, but to other members of the public and public order as well; therefore, the legislature has the duty to establish such conditions and procedure for the entry into civilian circulation of weapons and ammunition, for their possession and use, and for the issue and revocation of permits to acquire weapons that would create the preconditions for protecting from the possible threat both persons who possess weapons and ammunition and other members of society, as well as for ensuring public order; when fulfilling the said duty and while exercising broad discretion, the legislature is under the obligation to observe the Constitution; inter alia, when establishing the measures limiting the right to acquire and possess relevant weapons and ammunition, which are granted to a person under the conditions and procedure consolidated in a law, the legislature is obliged to pay regard to the principle of proportionality (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 25 January 2013).

V

On the compliance of Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition with the Constitution

1. As mentioned above, in the constitutional justice case at issue, the Constitutional Court is examining the compliance of Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph prescribes that persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons are subject to the limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), rather than to the corresponding limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), with Paragraph 2 of Article 7 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, as well as the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2. It has been mentioned that Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition prescribes:

The more stringent limitations (compared with those imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition that was valid before the entry into force of this Law) laid down in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, which is set out in Article 1 of this Law, do not apply to persons who, on 28 February 2011, had a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons if circumstances due to which those limitations may be applied occurred prior to the entry into force of this Law.”

As mentioned above, in the opinion of the petitioners, after Article 2 (wording of 18 November 2010) of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition had been amended before the expiry of the established time period, according to the impugned legal regulation, persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, had filed an application in accordance with the established procedure, requesting a permit to hold (carry) the said weapons, turned out to be in an unequal position due to the time of filing relevant applications, since persons who filed relevant applications prior to the entry into force of the impugned legal regulation were not subject to more stringent limitations than those imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition valid until 28 February 2011, whereas persons who filed applications requesting a permit to hold (carry) weapons after the entry into force of the impugned legal regulation on 12 July 2012 were already subject to the said more stringent limitations.

3. When deciding whether Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, to the specified extent, is in conflict with Constitution, it should be noted that, as mentioned above:

the constitutional principle of the equality of persons is violated in cases where certain persons or groups of such persons are treated in a different manner even though between the said groups of persons there are no differences of such a character or extent that could objectively justify their uneven treatment;

the constitutional principles of legal certainty, legal security, and the protection of legitimate expectations, which stem from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, imply the state’s duty to ensure the certainty and stability of any legal regulation, to protect the rights of persons, to respect legitimate interests and legitimate expectations, and to fulfil any obligations assumed to a person; persons have the right to reasonably expect that their rights acquired under valid laws or other legal acts that are not in conflict with the Constitution will be retained for the established period of time and could be implemented in reality; no changes in the legal regulation are allowed to deny the legitimate interests and legitimate expectations of a person;

the duty of the state, stemming from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, to ensure the certainty and stability of a legal regulation, among other things, means that, after introducing particular substantial amendments to a previously valid legal regulation and after establishing a certain transitional legal regulation and a time limit until which persons may implement their rights acquired under the legal regulation valid prior to the introduced amendments, the legislature must observe the established time limit and must not make any such amendments to the transitional legal regulation that would worsen the legal situation of the persons concerned, unless the necessity to waive this requirement is constitutionally justifiable on the grounds of the striving to ensure an important public interest;

the legislature has the duty to establish such conditions and procedure for the entry into civilian circulation of weapons and ammunition, for their possession and use, and for the issue and revocation of permits to acquire weapons that would create the preconditions for protecting from the possible threat both persons who possess weapons and ammunition and other members of society, as well as for ensuring public order; while performing this duty and exercising its broad discretion, the legislature must act in compliance with the Constitution.

4. When assessing whether the legal regulation impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue is in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, it should be noted that, as mentioned above, the objective of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) is to regulate the circulation of weapons, weapon attachments, and ammunition with a view to ensuring the safety of an individual, the public, and the state (Paragraph 1 of Article 1).

It has also been mentioned that, according to the impugned legal regulation, as from 12 July 2012 (the date on which the Law Amending Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force), persons who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons and who had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, were not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2001 (although they had been considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation), could no longer be issued a permit to hold (carry) those weapons, since the said persons were subject to limitations more stringent than those established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), i.e. they were subject to the limitations established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010). Thus, such persons, provided that they filed an application in accordance with the established procedure prior to 11 July 2012, could be issued a permit to hold (carry) the specified firearms; however, provided that they filed an application from and after 12 July 2012, they could not be issued such a permit.

Consequently, under this legal regulation, persons are treated differently depending on the time of filing the application for a permit to hold (carry) weapons, even though there are no such differences between them from the aspect of a threat to the security of an individual, society, or the state that would objectively justify their uneven treatment.

It has also been mentioned that, under the impugned legal regulation, persons who, on 28 February 2011, had a permit to hold (carry) weapons of any category for holding (carrying) which a permit was necessary under the then effective legal regulation and who had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such firearms prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, were not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011 (although they had been considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation) could be issued a permit to hold (carry) the said firearms even where the applications were filed from and after 12 July 2012, since such persons were not subject to more stringent requirements as to good repute, whereas persons who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold (carry) weapons or a permit to carry weapons of any category for holding (carrying) which a permit was necessary under the then effective legal regulation, but who had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such firearms prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, were not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011 (although they had been considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation), provided that they filed an application from and after 12 July 2012, could not be issued a permit to hold (carry) such firearms, since these persons were subject to more stringent requirements as to good repute.

Consequently, under this legal regulation, persons are treated differently depending on whether or not, on 28 February 2011, they had a permit to hold (carry) weapons of any category, even though there are no such differences between them from the aspect of a threat to the security of an individual, society, or the state that would objectively justify such uneven treatment.

Thus, it should be held that the impugned legal regulation, according to which persons who, on 28 February 2011, had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they had acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, were not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, but who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons became subject, as from 12 July 2012, to limitations more stringent than those established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), i.e. they became subject to the limitations established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), does not meet the requirements stemming from Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution.

5. In assessing whether the legal regulation impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue is in conflict with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, it should be noted that, as mentioned above, the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, which was adopted by the Seimas on 18 November 2010, laid down a certain transitional legal regulation, providing persons with time to adapt to a more stringent legal regulation governing the conditions and procedure for issuing permits to acquire weapons, as well as the conditions and procedure for holding and using weapons.

It has also been mentioned that, according to the transitional legal regulation, persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, if they acquired such firearms prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011 (although they had been considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation), were allowed, until 1 January 2014, to submit an application and obtain a permit to hold such weapons, since the more stringent requirements as to good repute could not apply to such persons.

Consequently, according to this legal regulation, the said persons gained the legitimate expectation that, if they had filed an application in accordance with the established procedure and if the issue had been decided by an authorised institution whether they could be issued a permit to hold (carry) firearms that are specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) and that were acquired prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force), they would not have been subject, until 1 January 2014, to the more stringent requirements as to good repute.

It should be noted that persons who, prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force), had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010) could not expect that the conditions and procedure for issuing permits to hold weapons, as well as the conditions and procedure for holding and using weapons, would never be made more stringent; however, they had the legitimate expectation that, in the course of making the said conditions more stringent, the transitional legal regulation laid down in Article 2 (wording of 18 November 2010) of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition would be stable and that they would be allowed, within the specified time period, to perform certain actions in order to adapt themselves to the new legal regulation.

It has been mentioned that, under the impugned legal regulation, which was established by the law adopted by the Seimas on 29 June 2012, the application of the more stringent requirements as to good repute began not as from 1 January 2014, as envisaged prior to the impugned amendment, but as from 12 July 2012 with regard to persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such firearms prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011 (although they were considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation), and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold (carry) weapons.

Thus, persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, if they acquired such firearms prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011 (although they were considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation), but who did not have a permit to hold (carry) weapons on the specified date, were precluded from receiving a permit to hold (carry) firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010).

Consequently, when establishing the impugned legal regulation, the legislature did not comply with the requirement, stemming from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, that, after introducing particular substantial amendments to a previously valid legal regulation and after establishing a certain transitional legal regulation and a time limit until which persons may implement their rights acquired under the legal regulation valid prior to the introduced amendments, the established time limit must be observed and no such amendments may be made to the transitional legal regulation that would worsen the legal situation of the persons concerned.

It should be noted that neither the travaux préparatoires of the Law Amending Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition of 29 June 2012 nor the material of the constitutional justice case at issue indicates that, at the time of the adoption of the impugned legal regulation, there were such circumstances that would allow the deviation from the said requirement and would constitutionally justify this deviation.

Thus, the impugned legal regulation disregarded the fact that persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such firearms prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011 (although they were considered to be persons of good repute under the previously effective legal regulation), had the legitimate expectation that the transitional legal regulation laid down in Article 2 (wording of 18 November 2010) of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition would be stable and that, if they had filed an application in accordance with the established procedure and if the issue had been decided by an authorised institution whether they could be issued a permit to hold (carry) the specified firearms, they would not have been subject, until 1 January 2014, to the more stringent requirements as to good repute.

It should be held that the legal regulation according to which persons who, on 28 February 2011, had firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons became subject, as from 12 July 2012, to limitations more stringent than those established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), i.e. they became subject to the limitations established in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), is incompatible with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

6. In the light of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph prescribes that persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons became subject, as from 12 July 2012, to the limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), rather than to the corresponding limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), is in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

7. Having held this, the Constitutional Court will not further examine in the constitutional justice case at issue the compliance of Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012) of Article 2 of the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph prescribes that persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons are subject to the limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), rather than to the corresponding limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), with Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution.

Conforming to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1, 53, 531, 54, 55, and 56 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania gives the following

 

ruling:


To recognise that Paragraph 4 (wording of 29 June 2012; Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2012, No 81-4222) of Article 2 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition, insofar as the said paragraph prescribes that persons who have firearms specified in Items 6, 7, or 8 of Article 5 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), if they acquired such weapons prior to 1 March 2011 (the date on which the Law Amending the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition came into force) and if they, under the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), are not considered to be persons of good repute due to circumstances that occurred prior to 1 March 2011, and who, on 28 February 2011, did not have a permit to hold weapons or a permit to carry weapons became subject, as from 12 July 2012, to the limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 18 November 2010), rather than to the corresponding limitations imposed in Paragraph 2 of Article 18 (wording of 4 December 2007) of the Law on the Control of Weapons and Ammunition (wording of 15 January 2002), is in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

This ruling of the Constitutional Court is final and not subject to appeal.

Justices of the Constitutional Court:    Elvyra Baltutytė
                                                                        Vytautas Greičius
                                                                        Danutė Jočienė
                                                                        Pranas Kuconis
                                                                        Gediminas Mesonis
                                                                        Vytas Milius
                                                                        Egidijus Šileikis
                                                                        Algirdas Taminskas
                                                                        Dainius Žalimas