With a recent and surprising decision, the EU Directive 135/52/EC, people within the European Union are from the beginning of this month forbidden to carry swords or swordlike objects outside of their homes without specific license to do so. The number of licenses will be limited nationally in order to keep control over the number of swords in circulation.
This new directive was originally an initiative from the Swedish EU diplomats who sought to extend and implement the country's national laws regarding the carrying of sharp instruments in public, a law that forbids the carrying of swords, knives, screwdrivers and any pointy or sharp instrument that can be used to commit violent crimes, to the whole union. This law even extends into carrying such instruments in one's car.
The direct consequence for the European HEMA community is that we from now on will be forced to apply for a license, a process that is said to take up to a year to handle. Meanwhile, the alternative solution is to return to practice and fight with modified shinai or synthetic or wooden wasters only. An undesired, but as it appears necessary step back for us all.
Reportedly, the US government is following this closely and similar laws are being prepared in the States as well. This is said to be near its completion and will likely be implemented shortly.
A number of national and European HEMA federations will of course officially protest against this new directive and several protest lists are being prepared at the time of writing this.
EDIT: My apologies to those that I caused emotional trauma with this prank on April Fool's Day. No protest lists are needed as I was just messing with you. All other days of the year I promise to stay dead serious. 😉