Czech president Miloš Zeman has said Europeans should “have the courage to invest in our own guns” in order to guard against international terrorism, like millions of U.S. citizens have.
The elder statesman — a veteran of the Prague Spring uprising against the old Communist regime as well as the Velvet Revolution which finally brought it down — made his comments in an address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental forum which predates the quasi-federal European Union by several years.
“The level of international crime is growing because of Islamic terrorism,” he said, in response to a question from an Armenian politician.
“I am open and frank, and I do not use the phrase ‘Islamic terrorism’ lightly but, in the overwhelming majority of cases, it has Islamic origin. It is connected with genocide in Armenia.”
President Zeman added: “What can we do against international criminality? Invest in the police, invest in the army, and have the courage to invest in our own guns.
“My wife has a pistol. Of course, she passed all necessary tests, but now I am guarded by my wife, and not only by bodyguards,” he smiled.
“The Second Amendment to the American constitution says that everybody has the right to have a weapon — of course they must fulfil the necessary conditions and tests.
“We Europeans are a little more careful than the Americans, but after Barcelona and many assassinations, I think that the difference between Europeans and Americans is not so great.”
Czech Republic Parliament Passes Constitutional Right to Bear Arms https://t.co/7cNgPQFpgv
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 29, 2017
Czech citizens are afforded some of the most liberal gun rights in Europe, although ownership rates are not as high as in nearby Switzerland — which, unlike the Czech Republic, remains outside the European Union.
Both countries enjoy a lower homicide rate than the United Kingdom, which is experiencing a surge in gun violence despite incredibly heavy restrictions on gun ownership, but the EU is bringing extensive pressure to bear on both of them to restrict citizens’ gun rights — in Switzerland’s case, because it is part of the effectively borderless Schengen Area — with mixed results.
The lower house of the Czech parliament responded to the EU’s demands in June 2017 by voting for an amendment to the Czech constitution providing citizens with rights somewhat similar to those enshrined in the U.S. Second Amendment, allowing ordinary citizens to bear arms in defence of their country.
“We do not want to disarm our own people at a time when the security situation is constantly worsening,” interior minister Milan Chovanec declared at the time.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 3, 2016
Islamists have been able to acquire firearms for use in a number of terrorist atrocities in Europe, despite tight controls on legal gun ownership.
France has seen the most high profile attacks, with terrorists gunning down police and ordinary civilians during the Charlie Hebdo assassinations and the Bataclan massacre, as well as shooting two police officers — killing one — between the first and second rounds of the recent presidential elections.
The terrorists behind the Nice and Berlin ramming attacks were also armed with guns, although they chose to use vehicles as their main weapons.
Europe’s situation contrasts strongly with Israel’s, where many civilians, off-duty police officers, and off-duty soldiers carry weapons, and very often bring attempted terror attacks to a swift end by using them.