19 Nov A “Millennial View” on the Paris Attacks and Misguided Gun Laws
Most arguments surrounding the horrifying attacks in Paris on November 13th have focused on what is to be done to prevent more. The hardest question is how to defeat ISIS and defend its Syrian and Iraqi victims without swelling the group’s ranks.
But it struck me that this Paris attack is the first gun violence incident I can recall in recent memory that hasn’t resulted in calls for stricter gun controls. Why is no one seeking a Kalashnikov ban in France?
Well, of course, Paris, France is already governed by very strict gun control laws. According to the Guardian, “Military-grade guns are banned in France, and even people who want to own a handgun or hunting rifle have to go through strict checks on their background and mental health.” An article on Bustle says specifically, “In order to purchase a firearm, one must first obtain a hunting or shooting sport license, which requires a psychological evaluation and regular renewal. Semi-automatic rifles that can hold more than three rounds, as well as rifles and handguns with military-grade calibers, require permits. Fully automatic weapons are completely illegal for civilians. If one purchases or possesses a gun illegally, the punishment is a maximum of seven years in prison, plus a fine.” Even some police in France are unarmed – as we saw in January, when several fled at the sight of the guns used on the Charlie Hebdo newspapermen.
The rifles used in the Paris attacks are believed to have been smuggled in illegally from Eastern Europe. The ones used to attack the French paper Charlie Hebdo in January were smuggled in from Brussels, where they were bought illegally. And according to the Guardian, in France “a black market [for guns] has proliferated. The number of illegal weapons has risen at a rapid rate – double-digit percentages – for several years.”
In other words: the strictest gun control laws in the world would not have stopped this.
I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say what Mr. Trump said – that the attacks might have been stopped if private citizens in Paris had had guns – but increased gun control for law-abiding citizens doesn’t do much to stop criminals who are determined to kill with guns.
Instead, those wishing to prevent attacks like these must crack down on the illegal trafficking of weapons, and ensure that at minimum law enforcement is adequately armed to defend against weapons the terrorists use.
T.L., Seattle, WA