Firearms Black Market Arms Terrorists Amidst Europe's Tight Gun Laws

photo from reddit.com.

Anti-gunners often use the super-strict gun laws of Australia as an ideal example of what America should be. Second-runner up as a model to strive for is Europe. However, when a would-be terrorist was recently wrestled to the floor of a train in France by three Americans, a French-American, and a Briton, he was relieved of a small arsenal, including an AKM assault rifle, a semiauto pistol, a box cutter, and a container of gasoline along with 300 rounds of ammo.

Many wondered, upon hearing about the incident, how this guy got his weapons in supposedly gun-free Europe. This story from Reason.com explains exactly how he got them, and how the terrorists got the AK-style rifles, submachine guns, and pistols used in the Charlie Hebdo attack. As often happens when something is banned, there is a thriving black market for weapons in France, and not just guns like the semi-auto versions of rifles, submachine guns, and handguns that are available to most civilians in the U.S., but serious military hardware.

"The French black market for weapons has been inundated with eastern European war artillery and arms," said Philippe Capon, a French police union official back in January. "They are everywhere in France."

After the train incident, The Independent stated, "According to the French Interior Ministry, drug dealers and terrorists have been acquiring these weapons in increasing numbers."

After the Hebdo attack, Emmanual Quemener from the police union Alliance told Bloomberg.com, "They had weapons of war, including Kalashnikovs. We've never seen anything like it."

Off-the-books weapons are so pervasive throughout Western Europe that they completely skew official gun ownership figures relied on by most of the anti-gunners in America.

"Contrary to the common assumption that Europeans are virtually unarmed, the 15 countries of the European Union have an estimated 84 million firearms. Of that, 67 million (80 percent) are in civilian hands," noted the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey in 2003.

Registered civilian-owned guns in France numbered 2.8 million in 2003, but estimates of unregistered guns were between 15 and 17 million. That's a big gap.

The story says it's the same in other countries, indicating widespread defiance of gun restrictions by average Europeans, who kept their guns off the books after laws were tightened and topped off their personal collections with weapons smuggled primarily from Eastern Europe—at affordable prices, no less.

AK-47s are said to be available on the black market in Western Europe for 300 to 700 euros, which is approximately $350 to $800 U.S.