Some say the Europeans have been slow to make changes to combat the rise of Islamist terrorism. But it’s not true that the EU has been unresponsive. According to the Washington Post, after the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, France pushed the European Union to enact even tougher anti-gun policies than the stringent ones already in place.
The European Commission initially proposed a complete ban on the sale of weapons like Kalashnikovs or AR-15s that are intended primarily for military use. Ammunition magazines would be limited to 20 rounds or less. However, the Czechs balked and were supported by the Germans and Finns. Consequently, a less comprehensive law was enacted. It bans the sale of most military-style rifles and requires all potential buyers to go through a psychological check before they can buy a weapon. Online sales are also severely curtailed.
Whatever the merits of this sort of gun law, it strikes me as odd to enact tougher ones in response to terrorist attacks. Under the strictest of gun control regimes, members of terrorist cells aren’t likely to have difficulty coming up with whatever guns they want. Meanwhile, tougher gun laws will limit the ability of law abiding citizens to defend themselves.
But a moment’s reflection washes away the oddity. The European elites are using terrorism as a pretext for the tougher gun laws they desire.
The Czech government has other ideas. Its president is urging citizens to arm themselves in order to defend against terrorism carried out by Muslims. It is also pushing a constitutional change that would make it easier for them to do so.
Post reporter Amanda Erickson, whose article derides the Czechs at every turn, doesn’t do a very good job of explaining the constitutional amendment. However, from her report and from other sources, I gather that the amendment specifies a constitutional right to bear arms and expands the range of “genuine reasons” for possession of a firearm to include those “national security.” (The Post’s Erickson calls this a “terrorist hunting” measure, but doesn’t quote text that supports this characterization).
Erickson points out that there are fewer than 4,000 Muslims in the Czech Republic, a country of 10 million people. But this doesn’t mean that Czechs have nothing to fear from terrorism, especially given the ongoing pressure on EU states to accept Syrian refugees.
It is ironic, though, that the Czechs, along with the Poles (see this post by John), seem to be taking the threat of Islamist terrorism more seriously than do EU nations plagued by it. In Great Britain, many police officers still aren’t carrying guns. They have to use nightsticks to take on bloodthirsty terrorist, who are armed to the teeth.
The Post’s story includes a picture of guns from a previously held firearms surrender displayed at police headquarters in Manchester, England. I have included it on the main page. It’s too bad one of these guns wasn’t loaded and in the possession of a concert-goer at the Manchester area a little while ago.
UPDATE: Regarding the second paragraph of this post, a reader points out:
The AR-15 is not a military rifle nor, as far as I can tell, is it deployed by any military in the world. It is intended for civilian use, not military.
The AR-15’s military derivatives–the M16 and M4, in various iterations–are the military versions. They are select-fire rifles while the AR-15 is not.
The AR-15 is deployed by many law enforcement agencies in the US; they are also entitled to use the select-fire military versions as well.
You could say that the AR-15 is a military style rifle if you like. . . .
A small point, but the anti-gun folks love to conflate the military versions of these rifles with the civilian, thereby leading many people to believe that the AR-15 is a machine gun, which of course it is not. (People are very surprised when I tell them this; they have been trained well.)