Europeans are reportedly arming up, “in part by insecurity arising from terrorist attacks,” according to the Wall Street Journal, and it’s a development that might give anti-gun-rights liberals in the United States a touch of heartburn.
U.S. gun prohibitionists have long touted the kinds of gun control laws in Europe as an example to be followed in their own country, if it weren’t for that annoying Second Amendment and state constitutional right-to-bear-arms provisions.
Buried in the story about seven paragraphs from the lead is the revelation that in 2017, “Europe’s unregistered weapons outnumbered legal ones…44.5 million to 34.2 million, according to the Small Arms Survey.” It is not entirely clear how the Survey came up with that estimate, but the story quoted Nils Duquet of the Flemish Peace Institute in Belgium, who said the unregistered guns are used “mostly by criminals.”
Now, that’s a big non-surprise to American gun owners who have repeatedly reminded U.S. politicians and journalists that criminals ignore gun laws. Duquet’s remark simply underscores that fact.
The WSJ report acknowledges, “In most European countries, gun permits require thorough background checks, monitored shooting practice and tests on regulations. In Belgium, France and Germany, most registered guns may only be used at shooting ranges. Permits to bear arms outside of shooting ranges are extremely difficult to obtain.”
And the story says something else that might further erode the anti-gun lobby’s advocacy of European-type gun laws for the U.S.
“Strict registration requirements don’t account for—and may exacerbate—a surge in illegal weapons across the continent, experts say,” the WSJ observed.
According to the Rand Corporation, quoted in the WSJ article, “Europe represents the largest market for arms trade on the dark web, generating revenues that are around five times higher than the U.S.”
“In Germany,” the newspaper reports, “the number of legally registered weapons rose roughly 10%, to 6.1 million, in the five years through 2017, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to Germany’s National Weapons Registry. Permits to bear arms outside of shooting ranges more than tripled to 9,285, over the same five years.”
The report also said that gun-related violence has risen in France, Germany and Belgium. Certainly factoring into that scenario, as noted by the WSJ last month, are terrorist attacks.
But what came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the uptick in gun ownership lead to increased crime, or was it the other way around?
Of particular note, the WSJ story began by alluding to sexual assaults against “hundreds of women…on New Year’s Eve in several German cities three years ago.” One woman, identified as Carolin Matthie “decided it was time to defend herself.” She applied for a gun permit, which may not be easy to get and there’s a wait of several months, according to the story.
No European nation has a Second Amendment in its constitution. Perhaps that’s why they had to count on the U.S. to bail them out of two world wars in the last century.
Maybe, instead of encouraging European-style gun control in the U.S., it’s time to promote American-style gun ownership—complete with its right-to-carry provisions that millions of citizens exercise today—in Europe, putting criminals and terrorists on notice that they misbehave at their own peril.