If Only France Had Some ‘Common Sense’ Gun Control

Gun control doesn't get to the root of the problem but it does disarm the victims

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If only france had sensible gun control laws, the Paris attacks of November 13th would not have happened.

Okay, everyone knows that isn’t true. france has gone way beyond “sensible” gun control laws and has, for all practical purposes, banned civilian ownership of firearms. It didn’t stop last week’s surreal carnage—and it won’t stop the next attack either.

Freelance reporter David Axe explained on the Daily Beast how fully automatic rifles have come to contaminate la République française. He traces them back to the Russian government which he says readily supplied Kalashnikov rifles to its Slavic allies during the Balkan wars of 1992-1999. “When those conflicts ended in the mid- to late-1990s, the weapons remained—as many as six million of them…” writes Axe. Organized crime has since found a profitable market in Western Europe for these illicit arms.

As David Axe explains, it isn’t particularly difficult to obtain an AK-47 in france today—provided you have the proper underworld connections. The underworld, by definition, is the domain of the criminal class, so it should come as no surprise that bad guys can get their hands on serious firepower without much difficulty.

The problem is getting worse. In 2012, a young Muslim shot up a Jewish school in Toulouse, killing a teacher and three students. In January, a team of Muslim terrorists attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a left-wing satire magazine that regularly mocked religion—and didn’t spare Islam. There was also the attempted shooting spree in August of this year by a Muslim terrorist onboard an Amsterdam-to-Paris train that was thankfully thwarted by an American trio.

And that’s just the terrorism! France also suffers from ordinary violent crime, centered in its immigrant ghettoes, of course. The city of Marseille in the south of France has become something of a war zone in recent years, earning it the ignominious title “the most dangerous city in Europe.” Turf wars are fought with the same full-auto Kalashnikovs used in the most recent Paris attacks. “Marseille is sick with its violence,” then-Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in 2013.

If the recent Paris attacks prove anything it’s that mass shootings are not a uniquely American phenomenon. Some people will surely argue that the US still leads the world in violent rampages and that any comparison between us and them would be a false one. Of course, I don’t mean to imply that the US, when compared to Western Europe, has an equal number of spree killings, or even a proportional number of spree killings, but I will posit that the explanation for the disparity has little to do with differences in our laws.

The second amendment to the Constitution has been the law of the land since 1791. For the better part of two hundred years Americans managed to keep and bear arms with very few instances of people “going postal.” But then things began to change.

People were shocked when, in 1966, a man named Charles Whitman climbed the clock tower at UT-Austin and began sniping at students below. Stuff like that just didn’t happen in those more innocent times. In the decades that followed, the situation only worsened. The killing seemed to be everywhere in the 1990s—Jonesboro, Arkansas, Springfield, Oregon, and Paducah, Kentucky. The levy broke in 1999 when two teenagers in Colorado laid siege to their high school, killing thirteen people before committing suicide. Since then the massacres have all become a blur—Newtown, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Charleston, the Sikh Temple. It never seems to end.

Liberals have indicted guns. They believe that banning them would be a quick fix and it’s what they strongly imply we should do—usually before issuing heated denials that anyone wants to trample your second amendment rights. They just want a few “common sense” controls to make sure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands, or so they say. But of course they want to ban guns and that’s why they look to European nations like France as their model. Spree killings just don’t happen there—except when they do.

Contrary to gun control propaganda, Europe has not escaped the modern scourge of spree killings. Norway’s tough gun control laws didn’t stop the monstrous Anders Brevik from killing 77 people, mostly children, in 2011. Germany’s tough gun control laws didn’t prevent Robert Steinhäuser from killing sixteen people at an Erfurt high school in 2002, nor did they prevent Tim Kretschmer from killing sixteen people “for fun” at a Winnenden secondary school in 2009. The Czech Republic’s gun control laws didn’t stop a gunman from shooting up a popular restaurant in 2015, killing nine. And of course France’s tough gun control laws didn’t stop the most recent attacks, the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the foiled train shooting, the Toulouse Jewish day school shooting, or even armed street crime.

Banning guns won’t get to the root of the problem, it will only disarm the victims. But just what is the problem? I would argue that we have two. The first of these problems is a creeping darkness of the soul. I believe Mike Huckabee summed it up well when he remarked, in the aftermath of the Oregon community college shooting that “We have not so much a gun problem, we have a problem with sin and evil.” His remark did not sit well with liberals who were leery of his religious overtones. Also, they don’t want to admit that the revolutionary changes that have swept through society since the 1960s have been anything but positive. Instead they talk about guns. They would have us believe that the roots of our problem are as old as our Constitution and the bitter-clinger frontiersmen who built this country. To them it’s not evil, it’s “gun culture.”

But what other conclusion can a reasonable person reach when Chris Harper Mercer, the Oregon shooter, admitted that his actions were motivated by a desire to win the same notoriety as other shooters before him had? To me, that says that we glorify killers, which only creates copycats. If you’re still not convinced that we have a sin and evil problem, read Dave Cullen’s meticulously researched book “Columbine” and I think you’ll find that the attacks were carried out by two very different young men—one, Eric Harris, who was completely dead inside, and the other, Dylan Klebold, who wrestled with great psychic pain.

The other problem is even more difficult to talk about. It’s called jihad. This unholy “holy war” is responsible for not only the Paris attacks but also the Fort Hood massacres and the military recruiting station shootings in Chattanooga and Little Rock.

If liberals are loathe to discuss the sin and evil problem, they are even more reluctant to talk about jihad because it feels like racism. Take for example the recent tweet from Moms Demand Action, a Michael Bloomberg-funded gun control group which advocates European-style gun control here in America. You’d think they’d keep quiet at a time when their preferred policies failed so miserably but they just couldn’t resist. “We are united in mourning all lives lost to gun violence” they proclaimed. Gun violence? Oh, I suppose that some of the people in Paris were killed with guns—and others with bombs—but none were killed by “gun violence.” They were killed by crazy-ass Muslim violence. Why can’t they bring themselves to say it?

This unwillingness to talk about radical Islam in connection with terroristic violence does us all a disservice because it lets the perps off the hook. It would be like calling the people murdered on 9/11 victims of “airplane violence.” Yes, airplanes played a role in what happened that day but no one was killed by a 747. They were killed by Mohammad Atta and eighteen of his buddies, all Muslims.

In my estimation, both Europe and America suffer from both problems—jihad on the one hand, and sin and evil on the other. Only the quantities vary. On this side of the pond it seems that the sin and evil problem is more pronounced; on the other side, it’s jihad.

Guns are liberals’ favorite patsy, the inanimate objects they like to blame when they can’t—or won’t—account for what really ails us. A change in laws will do nothing to prevent future mass shootings. If we’re ever to wake up from this awful nightmare of spree killings we will need to enact deeper, more substantive changes to our hearts, minds, and yes—immigration policy.

Benny Huang is a lonely conservative in the very liberal Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. He strives to make the world a better place through his writing. He is a veteran.