Czechs hand over 3,700 weapons including tanks, APCs, and Semtex in latest arms amnesty

The fourth arms amnesty had the lowest number of items turned in, but there were a few curious pieces.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 03.08.2021 12:21:00 (updated on 03.08.2021) Reading time: 6 minutes

People in the Czech Republic handed over or applied for the registration of 3,687 weapons and 132,987 pieces of ammunition during the latest arms amnesty, which lasted from the end of January to the end of July, the Police Presidium announced on its website.

As expected, most of the haul was handguns, but there were some unusual items including tanks, artillery guns, plastic explosives, World War II automatic rifles, and a vintage lever-loading shotgun.

People could hand over illegally possessed arms to the police without any explanation or punishment, and also to apply to register illegally possessed arms, which they could consequently keep in legal possession if the met all the requirements.

The weapons amnesty lasted from Jan. 20 2021 to July 31. 2021. During this period, weapons of categories A to D, their main parts or ammunition stored without proper permission could be legalized with impunity. The D category includes paintball guns, historical firearms, replicas, and guns that fire blanks, among other items. Weapons get more powerful or dangerous up to the A category, which includes armor piercing ammunition, fully automatic weapons, non-metal guns that can evade X-rays, rocket launchers and mortars, and most military grade weapons.

“In most cases, people handed over small firearms, such as pistols and revolvers, to the Czech Police. However, they could not safely bring all the material in person, so police pyrotechnics went to 141 cases to take care of the professional provision of the delivered ammunition on the spot. As part of the weapons amnesty, the Police of the Czech Republic also received curious and interesting items,” Police Presidium spokeswoman Hana Rubášová said.

In the Hradec Králóve region, 233 weapons were handed over or reported to police, including aT 34/85 tank and an SD-100 mobile artillery gun. Their owner has kept them both legally since the 1990s, but has recently started to doubt whether the weapons were sufficiently deactivated in accordance with the latest requirements.

“He chose the procedure of voluntary notification within the framework of a weapons amnesty, so that it was possible to obtain documents for them in accordance with the currently valid legislation. There is nothing to prevent this process, and since the tanks and their non-functional cannons do not in fact pose any threat, it was possible to leave them in place under the specified conditions,” Magdaléna Vlčková of the Hradec Králóve regional police said.

Another man in the same region handed over a 19th-century shotgun. “After assessing this weapon, the police found out that it was probably made before 1890. It is interesting that it is loaded using a lever. … After all inspections, the weapon will probably be returned to the owner without registration, as it is a weapon of category ‘D’ - historical,” Eliška Majerová of the Hradec Králóve police said.

A case containing the Czech-made plastic explosive Semtex plus wires and detonators was also turned over. The man who had it said he found it cleaning out an estate.

Semtex recovered in the Hradec Králové region. (Photo:
Semtex recovered in the Hradec Králové region. (Photo:

Another item turned over in the same region was non-functional French-made anti-tank gun used for defending a concrete bunker.

“A specialist from the service department for weapons and security material arrived at the mentioned building together with an expert from the department of forensic technology and expertise, who in cooperation with club members found out that it is a fortress semi-automatic anti-tank cannon model 36 caliber 47 mm,” Iva Kormošová of the  Hradec Králóve regional police said.

Bunker cannon in the Hradec Králóve region. (
Bunker cannon in the Hradec Králóve region. (

“They confirmed its malfunction by damage and degradation by corrosion, which made the cannon permanently and irreversibly unusable for firing. The cannon is now kept in the system of the Central Register of Weapons as a category D weapon, which now includes inactive torsion weapons,” she added.

In the Olomouc region, people handed over 276 weapons, including German-made repeating rifles from World War II.

Weapons turned over in the Olomouc region. (Photo:
Weapons turned over in the Olomouc region. (Photo:

“We did not encounter a curious or exceptional weapon, but interesting things were, for example, repeating rifles from the Second World War of German production (Mauser, Steyer), model 98k, caliber 8x57 IS. Furthermore, small-bore rifles were handed in – repeating model ZKM 401, caliber .22 LR, manufactured from 1960 to 1985. It is also worth mentioning a shotgun from an manufacturer Austro-Hungary, caliber 16/65, from1905, a Browning self-loading pistol model 27, caliber 7.65 from 1930 to 1935, or a Luger self-loading pistol, model P08, caliber 9 mm Luger from 1917 to 1920,” Marie Šafářová of the Olomouc regional police said.

The Pardubice region also did not have any big items, but several small one caught the attention of local police, such as as an anti-aircraft cannon, a Russian remote-control anti-tank missile, and over two kilos of the industrial mining explosive Danubit with detonators.

Artillery shell handed over in Pardubice. (Photo:
Artillery shell handed over in Pardubice. (Photo:

Out of the total number of 3,678 handed-over weapons, the highest number, 550, were handed over by people in the Central Bohemia region.

“Some of the pieces had to be taken directly into the field by the weapons staff themselves, given their size. Among the handed over weapons was, for example, a rescue tank or an armored personnel carrier, the so-called swivel," Vlasta Suchánková of the press department of the Central Bohemia regional police said.

Tank recovered in Central Bohemia. (Photo:
Tank recovered in Central Bohemia. (Photo:

Prague followed with 464 weapons handed over by people, and South Moravia with 367. The lowest number of weapons, 77, were handed in the Karlovy Vary region, which is also the smallest of all in terms of both area and population.

Out of the handed-over weapons, almost 90 percent are subsequently returned to the owners after registration. The police first checked all weapons in search records and then sent them for ballistic tests. To date, no weapon has been linked to crime. However, the situation may change as the testing is not over yet, the Police Presidium stated.

"Compared with previous amnesties, the latest was the weakest in terms of the number of handed-over weapons, which ended close to that from the very first amnesty declared in 1996," Police Presidium's weapons and security materiel service director Milan Prchal said in a YouTube video that shows some of the recovered items.

Out of the four previous amnesties, the highest number of weapons handed over by people was in 2009, when the totoal was over 7,000.

Before this year, arms amnesties were declared four times. During the most recent in 2014, a total of 5,877 weapons and 484,744 pieces of ammunition were handed over by people.

“A weapon amnesty, or the cessation of criminality of illicit armaments, is usually announced within the amendments to the Act on Weapons and Ammunition. Outside this statutory period, there is a risk of unauthorized storage of a firearm or a larger amount of ammunition for up to two years behind bars, a ban on activity or forfeiture of property,” spokeswoman Rubášová said.

In the Czech Republic, only the holders of an arms license can keep and carry a firearm, with the exception of the types of weapons that are not subject to compulsory registration, such as historical weapons.

The numbers of legally held weapons and issued arms licenses have been rising in the Czech Republic in recent years. Last year, the police registered 307,372 licenses and 900,087 weapons.

Czech parliament recently approved an amendment to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, a part of the Czech Constitution, based on which people's right to defend themselves and others with a weapon, under conditions defined by law, has been embedded in the constitution.

 Numbers of weapons handed over by people by regions:

  • Prague: 464
  • Central Bohemia: 550
  • South Bohemia: 343
  • Plzeň: 265
  • Karlovy Vary: 77
  • Ústí nad Labem: 249
  • Liberec: 205
  • Hradec Králóve: 233
  • Pardubice: 121
  • Vysočina: 171
  • South Moravia: 367
  • Olomouc: 276
  • Moravia-Silesia: 222
  • Zlín: 144
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