One of the great myths of gun control is that the sensible Europeans adopted gun control and eliminated crime. The reality is that murder rates and crime rates in many parts of Europe, such as the UK, remain quite high. And guns are easily accessible to criminals.
As the Islamic terrorist attacks in France and Brussels have shown.
Law abiding citizens have trouble obtaining firearms. But more Europeans are trying to get guns. Especially after an outbreak of Muslim violence.
When hundreds of women were sexually assaulted on New Year’s Eve in several German cities three years ago, Carolin Matthie decided it was time to defend herself. The 26-year-old Berlin student quickly applied for a gun permit, fearing many women would have the same idea and flood the application process.
“If I don’t do it now, I will have to wait maybe another half year,” she recalls thinking.
If European men won't do the job, European women appear willing to arm themselves.
Europe’s unregistered weapons outnumbered legal ones in 2017, 44.5 million to 34.2 million, according to the Small Arms Survey. Many illegal weapons come from one-time war zones, such as countries of the former Yugoslavia, and others are purchased online, including from vendors in the U.S.
“Europe represents the largest market for arms trade on the dark web, generating revenues that are around five times higher than the U.S.,” concluded a recent Rand Corp. report.
And, in some cases, there are sharp spikes.
In Germany, the number of legally registered weapons rose roughly 10%, to 6.1 million, in the five years through 2017, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to Germany’s National Weapons Registry. Permits to bear arms outside of shooting ranges more than tripled to 9,285, over the same five years.
Permits for less lethal air-powered guns that resemble real guns and shoot tear gas or loud blanks to scare away potential attackers roughly doubled in the three years through the end of 2017, to 557,560, according to the registry.
Ms. Matthie first bought an air gun, which her permit allowed her to carry with her.
She has since become a sports shooter, using live ammunition at shooting ranges, and is now applying for a firearm permit. She posts a daily video blog where she advocates armed self-defense.
Belgian applications for shooting licenses almost doubled after the terrorist attacks by an Islamic State cell in Paris in Nov. 2015 and four months later in Brussels, offering “a clear indication of why people acquired them,” said Mr. Duquet.
If governments won't fight Islamic terrorism, their citizens will.