The Washington Post makes me laugh. Not because they made me look like a nut case in a front page profile that elicited thousands of flaming comments. The WaPo tickles my funny bone with their ongoing battle between the paper’s dedication to old-fashioned news reporting and their virulent anti-gun bias. As the headline indicates, Getting a gun legally in Europe may be hard, but terrorists have little trouble is a perfect example. The story’s push-me pull-you prevarication starts right from the word go . . .
Europe, a continent long known for the rarity of gun violence, is confronting twin challenges that give the issue sudden urgency: a growing population of radicalized young men determined to strike targets close to home, and a black market awash in high-powered weapons.
I thought Europe was long known for their socialist politics, ethnocentrism and hatred of all things American (even as they consume them with gusto). Anyway, Writers Griff Witte and Karla Adams set the stage: strict gun control laws in Europe have no impact whatsoever on weapons availability for “radicalized young men” (a.k.a., Islamic terrorists).
Sounds about right – except for the unmentioned (unmentionable?) fact that the Eurozone’s gun control regimes leave law-abiding citizens defenseless against the aforementioned Islamic extremists. And criminals. Never mind. It’s a haven I tell you, a heavenly haven compared to America.
In contrast with the free-firing United States, Europe is generally seen as a haven from serious gun violence. Here in Denmark, handguns and semiautomatic rifles are all but banned. Hunting rifles are legally available only to those with squeaky-clean backgrounds who have passed a rigorous exam covering everything from gun safety to the mating habits of Denmark’s wildlife.
Free-firing? What does that even mean? And what up with the qualifiers? Europe’s a haven from gun violence “generally seen” by who? “All but banned?” See what I mean about conflicted? The anti-gun Post is trying to tamp-down the pro-gun blowback that logically follows from the failure of European gun bans.
But if you want an illicit assault rifle, such as the one used by a 22-year-old to rake a Copenhagen cafe with 28 bullets on Saturday, all it takes are a few connections and some cash.
“It’s very easy to get such a weapon,” said Hans Jorgen Bonnichsen, a former operations director for the Danish security service PET. “It’s not only a problem for Denmark. It’s a problem for all of Europe.”
Yes! A problem! A big problem!
European leaders have made tighter controls on weapons trafficking a priority in recent weeks, following the killing of 17 people in Paris by three attackers. The shootings in Copenhagen this past weekend, which left two people dead, raised the ominous prospect of copycat attacks across Europe.
But officials acknowledge there is no clear solution. The same open-border policies that allow people and goods to flow freely across the continent also make it extremely difficult to crack down on illegal weapons — a fact that arms dealers have been all too eager to exploit.
“You can find Kalashnikovs for sale near the train station in Brussels,” acknowledged a Brussels-based European Union official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record. “They’re available even to very average criminals.”
In the case of the Paris attackers, they were able to obtain an entire arsenal: AK-47 assault rifles, pistols, a Skorpion submachine gun and even a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. All of it was purchased in Brussels for about $5,000, according to Belgian media reports.
The obvious answer for a paper that’s pro-civilian disarmament in The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave? More gun control! But the WaPo can’t say that. It would be stupid. In fact, now that they’ve brought up the subject, there’s nothing to do but acknowledge the insanity of calling for still more European gun control. I love this bit . . .
. . . it is a particularly challenging issue for Europe because of the continent’s open borders. With 28 countries in the European Union, each with its own rules and regulations, controlling the flow of weapons has been nearly impossible.
“A firearm that is illegal in one country may be legal in another,” said Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at the London-based Royal United Services Institute. “You have continuous land all the way through to Russia and into the Balkans, which of course until a few decades ago was a war zone.”
Even assessing the scale of the problem has proven too difficult for Europe. A comprehensive European Commission study released last year cited an estimate of 67 million illicit firearms across the continent. But it also noted that the total was probably overstated and concluded that “no accurate quantification of the problem is feasible.”
U.S. law enforcement has long maintained an extensive database of lost and stolen weapons. But Europe has only recently begun to do so, working in concert with Interpol. So far, the database is believed to contain only a small fraction of the total.
Controlling the flow of illegal weapons is not impossible. It’s “nearly impossible.” Europe needs an international database of lost and stolen weapons to [somehow] stem the tide of 67 million illicit firearms.
I don’t know about you, but I find this writing entirely giggleworthy. The writers know they’re fighting a losing battle against themselves on this one. Hence they inserted following ‘graph to try to recover lost ground.
One country that has largely succeeded in keeping illicit firearms out is the United Kingdom. Because Britain does not participate in the continent’s open-borders program — and because it is an island with strictly enforced weapons laws — guns are rare. Out of desperation, criminals and would-be terrorists in Britain have occasionally turned to antique weaponry — flintlock pistols and Wild West-style revolvers — as the most deadly options available.
Do WaPo writers have access to the Internet? Google “number of illicit guns in the UK” and the very first hit yields “Estimates of illegal weapons [firearms] range from 500,000 to a million or more, perhaps many more” [via independent.co.uk]. This is not the gun control success the WaPo is looking for.
Time to tidy-up and go home. But not before adding one last completely ridiculous plug for gun control.
Even with the high-profile gun attacks of recent weeks, there’s been no major push in Denmark or elsewhere in Europe to loosen the gun laws. While American firearms advocates preach the necessity of self-defense, the argument holds little sway on a continent where citizens have seldom had to worry about gun violence — and hope the recent killings prove an aberration.
“As I see it,” said Rigby, the Copenhagen gun dealer, “more guns on the streets only means more trouble.”
As I see it, Europeans are going to see gun rights very differently very soon. Oh wait. Maybe not. Maybe they’ve completely abandoned the idea of personal protection. Maybe they’ll turn to their respective governments for protection, who will be more than happy to [continue to] transform the Eurozone into one great police state. And by great I mean large, not good. Not good at all.