EU can be ‘rapidly’ dragged into gun violence, report warns — Analysis

There has been a surge in gun violence in the EU that could “rapidly and drastically” deteriorate the security situation, claims the first comprehensive report to have studied the local black market of firearms and its impact.

According to the EU-funded Project Target report, “The peaceful course of events can be drastically altered by an increase in firearm availability” of any EU member state. The study examines gun violence and gun trafficking in Europe, focusing on 27 EU member countries, the UK and six Western Balkan countries.

Decreasing rates of lethal gun violence and low rates of firearm injuries should not provide a “A false sense of security,” even in the countries that are being considered as some of the safest in the world, the study authors, Nils Duquet and Dennis Vanden Auweele, warn.

It is noted that violence against lethal guns has not been declining in the United States since 2012. In some countries such as Sweden it has started to rebound.

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The findings show that the black market is thriving, with the impact “It is especially apparent” in the Netherlands and Sweden, and “To a lesser extent” in Belgium and Denmark. The illegal sales are making firearms more available to criminals “All levels” and serve as “A significant contributor to gun violence,” predominantly criminal and terrorist, the researchers say.

This report contains several recommendations. It points to the necessity of “Publicly available, standardized and comparable” data on the firearms being used in incidents, as well as the seizure data. The EU has 81 million guns, both legal and illegal, which calls for more systemic approaches to this problem.

The study also draws attention to “Technology advancements” that present the risk of “The next years will see a dramatic reduction in firearm violence.” The researchers provide 3D printing as an example of such technologies, noting that “Some 3D-printed firearms have been linked to rightwing extremism in some instances.”

Flemish Peace Institute (a research institute within the Flemish Parlament) prepared the study. Duquet, the institute’s director, called the report a “First piece of puzzle” in a fight against gun violence and firearms trafficking.

Even though there have been significant improvements and the EU has seen an increase in international cooperation, further work is required to enhance law enforcement capacity, improve information sharing, and close loopholes.,” he told the media.



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