WSJ: Gun Ownership on Rise in Europe After Terror Attacks, Sexual Assaults

ATHENS - AUGUST 18: Rebecca Snyder of the USA lines up a shot during the women's 25 metre pistol qualifying event on August 18, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
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Personal weapons ownership is on the rise in Europe in response to mass sexual assaults and radical Islamic terror attacks, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey found that a rise in personal firearms ownership on the continent represents only 10 per cent of the 32 percent global rise in the decade to 2017, the WSJ remarks that “Europe’s shift has been rapid”.

The Times of London notes that Finland, Austria, Norway, Germany, and France are now in the top 25 nations in the world for civilian gun ownership, with France having 12.7 million weapons — more than Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

All of those Western and Nordic European countries took in a high number of Middle Easterners during the migrant crisis after German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the EU’s borders in 2015, resulting in a series of high-profile terror attacks and mass sexual assaults by migrants and EU nationals of migrant background using the chaos of borderless Europe to travel to and from war zones in the Muslim world.

WSJ spoke to 26-year-old Berlin resident Carolin Matthie who decided to apply for a small firearms licence following the Cologne 2015/16 New Year’s sex attacks, where migrants and men of migrant background raped or sexually assaulted 1,000 women celebrating in Colognes cathedral square and central railway station.

Media referred to the phenomenon as  “taharrush gamea” — collective sexual assault in crowds first documented in Arab countries over a decade ago, and notably employed in Egypt during demonstrations as a misogynistic weapon against female protesters.

Ms Mattie said, “If I don’t do it now, I will have to wait maybe another half year” and obtained an airgun which she is allowed the carry with her. The young woman has gone on to apply for another permit for a higher-powered weapon and advocates for personally-armed self-defence.

Breitbart London reported in December that the number of licences in Germany for ‘non-lethal’ weapons (i.e., flare guns and alarm pistols) had more than doubled since the migrant crisis.

Belgium has seen a similar rise, almost doubling since the November 2015 terror attack in Paris and the Brussels bombings in March 2016, representing “a clear indication of why people acquired them,” according to Nils Duquet of the Flemish Peace Institute.

Personal gun ownership laws have been progressively tightened since 2006 in Belgium, where now a potential gun owner must undergo psychological evaluation and a year of theory and shooting tests.

Brussels shooting range owner Sébastien de Thomaz noted that “With each terror attack, the legislation gets stricter,” making it harder for law-abiding citizens to own firearms.

“For the black market, everything stays the same,” he added dryly.

The report adds that two-thirds of the weapons market is illegal, with many of the firearms coming from the former Yugoslavia.  The Small Arms Survey finding that Europe’s unregistered weapons outnumber legal arms 44.5 million to 34.2 million.

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