On November 13 terrorists who were able to acquire firearms and other weaponry despite France’s strict gun controls shot and killed approximately 130 law-abiding citizens who could not arm themselves for self-defence due to the same laws the terrorists ignored. Europe’s response? More gun control.
The immediate focus is on augmenting or expanding laws pertaining to the possession of weapons that have been “deactivated,” but a secondary focus is to take this opportunity to further limit the kinds of guns citizens can own for self defence.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “deactivated guns” are “weapons that have been put out of service for sales to collectors.” Investigators believe such weapons may be been reactivated and used in the January 7 attacks on Charlie Hebdo headquarters. “It isn’t clear whether decommissioned weapons were used on [November 13], but European security officials said they are increasingly focused on that possibility as a line of inquiry.”
A senior European interior official said, “This is one channel we’re paying increasing attention to. Recommissioning them takes some skill, but we know those skills are being used.”
Deactivated weapons are being treated as a “loophole” in European gun control and an “emergency meeting of EU internal security officials was convened in Brussels on Monday” to discuss the possibility of such weapons being involved in the most recent attacks. They are also looking at ways to tighten controls on deactivated – or “decommissioned” – firearms.
The European Commission issued a press release on November 18 focused on the rules contained in the EU Firearm Directive that govern “which private persons can acquire and possess weapons, as well as the transfer of firearms to another EU country.”
The Firearms Directive recognises “four categories of firearms and corresponding rules for acquisition and possession” of them:
- Category A – fully automatic weapons and military weapons: cannot be owned by private persons unless deactivated;
- Category B – repeating or semi-automatic arms: can be owned by private persons subject to authorisation;
- Category C – less dangerous repeating and semi-automatic firearms and single shot firearms used mainly by hunters: can be owned by private persons subject to declaration;
- Category D – other firearms: can be owned by private persons and are not subject to authorisation or declaration.
Regarding the deactivation of firearms, the Firearm Directive says, “Member States are obliged to introduce national procedures for the deactivation of firearms which render the weapons permanently inoperable, to be verified by a competent authority. Permanently deactivated arms are no longer considered arms and can be held by private persons and freely move within the internal market.”
In response to the Paris terror attacks the European Commission is seeking stricter rules on deactivated firearms, and they are also using the opportunity to further limit law-abiding citizens’ access to semiautomatic firearms along the way..
For example, the Commission recommends “Stricter rules to ban certain semi-automatic firearms, which move from Category B to Category A and will not, under any circumstances, be allowed to be held by private persons, even if they have been permanently deactivated.” The EU Commission also wants to move “blank-firing weapons (e.g. alarm, signaling, life-saving weapons) [into] the scope of the Directive, because of their potential to be transformed into firearms.”
So there you have it. Europe has terrorists in the streets who are not hindered in the slightest by gun control yet the Commission’s response is to further regulate guns that private citizens can only own if inoperable, make the few semi-automatics that citizens can own even harder to get, and regulate guns that only shoot blanks in the same way they regulate guns that are real.
Perhaps the terrorists will give up once they learn their cap guns have been brought under government oversight.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at email@example.com.