Criminals and terrorists can acquire firearms and even weapons of war more easily than before, according to a report by the Safte Project on “Firearms acquisition by terrorists in Europe”. The findings of the study, which was financed by the European Commission, were made public on Wednesday by the Flemish Peace Institute.
Large quantities of firearms held by terrorist groups have been seized in recent years. The same goes for weapons of war. Some types of arms are, in fact, easier for criminals and terrorists to get through the increasing contraband trade from countries that are no longer in conflict and thanks to the legal cracks regarding neutralized arms and easily convertible alarm pistols.
In most European countries, it’s the big criminals who manage to procure weapons of war. However, these weapons have been appearing increasingly on European black markets, which makes it easier for petty criminals to get them. “With good connections, criminals are therefore also able to acquire heavy weapons,” said Nils Duquet, a researcher at the Flemish Peace Institute.
The study recommended greater cooperation between and within European countries to contain the illegal arms market. A first step, it noted, would be to close the cracks in national legislations. The report also recommended investing in specialized maintenance services.
However, the big priority for the researchers is to detect the various actors involved in the illicit trade in firearms. To do that, information must be collected, recorded and shared effectively, they stressed.