Firearms Acquisition By Terrorists In Europe

Research findings and policy recommendations of Project SAFTE

Authors: Nils Duquet; Kevin Goris
In this book, the authors provide an overview of the knowledge regarding the purchases of weapons in the EU by terrorists. This is a phenomenon that deserves a lot of attention because it has been shown in the recent past that this is “in our back yard”. After every terrorist act there are a multitude of questions from the population. Not only why this happened, but also how this could happen is regularly asked. This book tries to chart the share of the “arms market for terrorists” in the “how” of these questions.
In the first chapter the authors deal with legislation up to 2017. This discussion of the legislation on arms sales shows that the EU still has a lot of work to coordinate between the countries in order to remove legal loopholes concerning arms transports and arms sales.
In the second chapter, the authors discuss the illegal arms markets in Europe itself. This shows how difficult it is to have an overview of something that seems simple, namely how many illegal weapons are there in Europe? The estimate ranges between 81000 and 67000000. Difficulties in making estimates include closed markets, but also the increase in available military grade weapons on illegal markets. Include illegal production, theft and reactivation of deactivated antique weapons, and you will get an unclear picture.
In the third chapter, the authors discuss the accessibility of the arms markets for terrorists. That appears not to be that simple. The arms markets are a closed market. If you already have criminal offenses on your record, you are known and trusted. Moreover, the arms dealers are not as keen on selling weapons if they know that the aim is to commit a terrorist attack. In addition, it appears that these markets are not a single market. Procurement methods differ depending on whether they are separatists, religious terrorists, right-wing terrorist groups or left-wing terrorist groups.
In the fourth chapter, the authors provide a number of policy recommendations with regard to the countries and the EU. This includes a coherent approach to regulation. But they also provide operational advice, such as exchanging data, uniform data storage, collaborating on data analysis, monitoring the implementation of legislation, applying strict penalties … Collaboration with citizens has not been forgotten, by the possibility of them voluntarily turning in their weapons. In addition, they also have an eye for the capabilities to be built in the nations, international coordination and cooperation. Finally, they indicate the following risks to follow up:

  • The increase in available military-grade weapons,
  • The spread of firearms from legality into illegality,
  • The role of weapon collectors and enthusiasts, and handymen,
  • Arms transactions on the internet,
  • The future of 3D printing.

 

 

Manu Steens

Manu works at the Flemish Government in risk management and Business Continuity Management. On this website, he shares his own opinions regarding these and related fields. Since 2012, he has been working at the Crisis Centre of the Flemish Government (CCVO), where he has progressed in BCM, risk management, and crisis management. Since August 2021, he has been a knowledge worker for the CCVO. As of January 2024, he works at the Department of Chancellery and Foreign Affairs of the Flemish Government. Here, he combines BCM, risk management, and crisis management to create a tailored form of resilience management to meet the needs of the Flemish Government.

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