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Spain's far-right party pushes for looser gun laws

Madrid -- The leader of Spain's far-right Vox party has said it should be much easier for law-abiding Spaniards to own firearms for self-defense, and use them for that purpose without legal consequences. In an interview published Wednesday by a website specializing in weapons, Santiago Abascal said that "the concept of legitimate defense needs to be widened" in Spain.

Abascal is Vox's candidate in the upcoming general election on April 28. He has bragged in the past about carrying a handgun himself because his family was for years a target of the Basque militant group ETA.

Under Spain's current law, that threat qualified Abascal for a firearms license which most of the nation's residents can't get.

Guns ownership is tightly regulated in Spain. According to the U.S. Library of Congress, firearms licences for personal security are only granted to those "who can prove that a real danger to their security exists." All fully automatic weapons are "strictly forbidden to civilians," as they are in the U.S. and most other Western nations.

Abascal, the 42-year-old leader of a party that only came into existence in 2013 and has yet to get a member elected to the nation's congress or the European Parliament, said the laws should be eased.

"We need an urgent radical change in the law, not only so that the Spaniards without criminal records and in full use of their mental faculties can keep a weapon in their house… But so that they can use it in real life-threatening situations without fear of facing a judicial nightmare, prison sentences or even the prospect of having to pay compensation to the relatives of criminals who assaulted them," he told the "armas.es" website.

Official statistics show that Spain's rates of homicide and burglary are lower than most of its European neighbors.

Changes already happening in Italy

Italian leaders push for change in gun laws

Similar changes to those Abascal's party is pushing from the fringes of Spanish politics have are also being espoused by his European neighbors in Italy, but the Italian right-wing has already risen to power, and is getting the changes into the books.

As CBS News reported last week, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and his League party, which became part of a coalition government in 2018, has already eased restrictions on how many firearms -- including assault-style weapons like the AR-15 – Italians can own, and the size of magazines permitted.

The government is also currently supporting a "legitimate defense" bill that would, among other things, decrease penalties for Italians who kill someone perceived to be a threat in their own home.

Abascal's Vox party has thus far only got a handful of politicians elected to a regional legislature in the country's south. However, party membership jumped significantly in 2017 after a terror attack in Barcelona, and his stance on firearms is clearly aimed at framing the Vox party as tough on security ahead of the April elections.