Unexamined Premises

Europeans Discover When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Terrorists Will Have Guns

Paris charlie hebdo

That’s what the Washington Post has just breathlessly reported:

Europe, a continent long known for the rarity of gun violence, is confronting twin challenges that give the issue sudden urgency: a growing population of radicalized young men determined to strike targets close to home, and a black market awash in high-powered weapons. The problem has been rendered vividly in recent weeks by a pair of deadly assaults that each paralyzed a European capital. In Paris and Copenhagen, the attacks were carried out by former small-time criminals turned violent extremists who obtained military-grade illicit weapons with apparent ease.

In contrast with the free-firing United States, Europe is generally seen as a haven from serious gun violence. Here in Denmark, handguns and semiautomatic rifles are all but banned. Hunting rifles are legally available only to those with squeaky-clean backgrounds who have passed a rigorous exam covering everything from gun safety to the mating habits of Denmark’s wildlife.

Hold it right there — “in contrast with the free-firing United States” tells you all you need to know about the biases of the two reporters bylined on this story. And don’t even get me started on the questionable statement that Europe is a “continent long known for the rarity of gun violence.” I suppose that’s true if by “long known” you mean “since the 1990s” and by “gun violence” you don’t count World Wars I and II. Or the 1960s in post-Algeria France. Or the left-wing terrorist cells in Germany and elsewhere of the 1980s.

“You can find Kalashnikovs for sale near the train station in Brussels,” acknowledged a Brussels-based European Union official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record. “They’re available even to very average criminals.”

In the case of the Paris attackers, they were able to obtain an entire arsenal: AK-47 assault rifles, pistols, a Skorpion submachine gun and even a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. All of it was purchased in Brussels for about $5,000, according to Belgian media reports.

The availability of such weapons in the heart of Western Europe isn’t new. The flood of high-powered weaponry began with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and continued through the 1990s as war raged across the Balkans. Many of the weapons from those periods are still circulating. They have lately been supplemented by an influx from the turmoil in North Africa, with weapons smuggled on ships across the Mediterranean.

The guns have been used primarily by criminal gangs that turn them on one another during periodic turf wars. But beginning with attacks in the French city of Toulouse in 2012 that left seven people dead, guns have also become the weapon of choice for Islamist terrorists in Europe.

This is simply ahistorical nonsense. Paris has long been a center of international arms dealing, some of it run right out of foreign embassies in the French capital. During the Cold War, Prague functioned in much the same way for the other side. The idea that Europe was ever a gun-free paradise is simply insane.


To get an idea of how little the Post’s reporting team understands about guns, terrorism, arms dealing or indeed just about anything else, check this out:

That’s a shift from the last decade, when bombs were used in mass-casualty attacks on transit systems in London and Madrid.

The new tactics may reflect the lone-wolf nature of the recent assailants, who seem to have operated with relative autonomy and not as part of centrally directed terrorist plots. Analysts say explosives can be easier to detect than guns and are harder to transport and assemble. Guns also require less expertise, allowing even petty gangsters such as Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, the assailant in Copenhagen, to carry out deadly strikes.

The use of guns has enabled terrorists to pick their victims more precisely. In Paris and Copenhagen, the targets were the same: cartoonists, police officers and Jews. Guns have also been the weapon of choice in other recent lone-wolf attacks carried out in Ottawa and Sydney, suggesting the problem is hardly limited to Europe.

The stupid, it burns. Here’s the kicker — which you just knew was coming:

Even with the high-profile gun attacks of recent weeks, there’s been no major push in Denmark or elsewhere in Europe to loosen the gun laws. While American firearms advocates preach the necessity of self-defense, the argument holds little sway on a continent where citizens have seldom had to worry about gun violence — and hope the recent killings prove an aberration.

“As I see it,” said Rigby, the Copenhagen gun dealer, “more guns on the streets only means more trouble.”

Yes: much better to go meekly to the slaughter in support of a gun-free Europe that never, in fact, ever existed than to have your fantasy world mugged by reality.