Paris is deploying 10,000 soldiers and police to provide security within metropolitan France, and will send “thousands” of police to protect Jewish schools in the wake of attacks by Islamic terrorists that left seventeen French citizens dead last week. This is certainly a step in the right direction, given the severity of recent attacks, and the fact that the Jewish community has been repeatedly been the target of violence in the past, to the point that some recently talked about leaving their homes for safer countries . . .
Which is quite understandable. Being a minority group in a country — nay, a continent — that has repeatedly sought not merely to oppress, but to outright murder, members of that group can be a difficult burden to bear, particularly when there are more welcoming countries.
Attendees of other schools might find themselves interested in a little protection, too – when the terrorists were on the run, they did not seem to be particularly discriminating in the ethnicity or religions of the hostages they seized or the people they murdered.
Of course, France still won’t allow most of its citizens — beyond members of the security forces — to carry a firearm to allow themselves the opportunity to defend themselves. A curious position given that this Charlie Hebdo attack was hardly the first, and will certainly not be the last such attack.
The French position on gun control is even more incomprehensible when you consider that France is already awash in firearms. In The Washington Post article France has strict gun laws. Why didn’t that save Charlie Hebdo victims? Adam Taylor writes:
[T]he men who attacked Charlie Hebdo appeared to be carrying two different types of Kalashnikov rifles. Such weapons are highly restricted and require extremely stringent background checks to buy (CNN describes it as rivaling the “clearance work done by the FBI for anybody employed at the White House”).
Weapons…such as the Kalashnikov AK series, have been illegally flooding France over the past few years, with state bodies recording double digit increases.
The French black market for weapons has been inundated with eastern European war artillery and arms,” Philippe Capon, the head of UNSA police union [said]. “They are everywhere in France”.
The number of illegal guns is thought to be at least twice the number of legal guns in the country [which Taylor reports as being around 7.5 million]. Weapons such as AK-47s can be bought for the equivalent of a few thousand dollars.
For the data nerds out there – that’s around 22 million legal and illegal firearms circulating in a nation with a population of about 66 million. I’m not sure what the tipping point is when the sheer volume of any product in circulation makes it nigh-impossible to completely eliminate it from society at large, but if France isn’t already over the line, she’s darned close.
At some point, one doesn’t have to embrace the idea (as much as I’d like it) that every person has a basic right to self defense, which includes keeping and bearing some sort of armament to recognize the fact that people are going to get this anyway, and devoting police resources to tracking down 15 million “illegal” firearms, at least some of which might be held by otherwise law-abiding citizens who simply wish to keep the deck stacked in case they’re faced with the sort of atrocity as was perpetrated against the offices of Charlie Hebdo, is a waste of everyone’s time. (If the primary objective is to protect the lives of the French people, anyway.)
Despite this abject failure of gun control in France, exemplified by the fact that the Islamic terrorists that attacked Charlie Hebdo were able to acquire a “cache of arms” (as reported by the Toronto Globe and Mail), it’s still more likely that this will result in even more restrictions for our French amis, not less. Taylor notes: “After a series of deadly shootings in 2012 in Toulouse and Montauban (which also involved the use of illegally obtained weapons), the response was a call for a crackdown on gun availability.”
Pity the poor French. And keep your powder dry.