Yes, they’re really that fucking stupid. Criminals, especially terrorists, do not obey laws. What the hell is so difficult to understand about that?
When American audiences read of a dramatic event in a foreign country, they often frame it in terms of the political debates occurring at home. As such, it was no surprise that after shootings at the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris this week, some Americans began to wonder about gun control laws.
“Isn’t it interesting that the tragedy in Paris took place in one of the toughest gun control countries in the world?” American reality television star Donald Trump wrote on Twitter shortly after the news broke. The tweet prompted both praise (over a thousand retweets) and scorn (Trump was labelled a “moron” and an “idiot” by other tweeters).
Sure, Trump’s the moron. But “journalists” asking stupid question aren’t. Right.
Trump, a perennial attention seeker, was likely attempting to score political points and insult liberals with his tweet. But behind the disingenuity, there is is a genuinely troubling question: Why didn’t France’s gun laws save the Charlie Hebdo victims?
France’s gun laws
French gun laws date back to April 18, 1939, though they have been amended a number of times since. They are certainly tough: There is no right to bear arms for the French, and to own a gun, you need a hunting or sporting license which needs to be repeatedly renewed and requires apsychological evaluation.
According to Gun Policy, a project by the University of Sydney, the punishment for illegally having a gun is a maximum of seven years in prison and a fine. In 2012, the French government estimated that there were at least 7.5 million guns legally in circulation.
As The Post’s Thomas Gibbons-Neff notes, the men who attacked Charlie Hebdo appeared to be carrying two different types of Kalashnikov rifles. Such weapons are highly restricted and require extremely stringent background checks to buy (CNN describes it as rivaling the “clearance work done by the FBI for anybody employed at the White House”).
Almost certainly illegally. Bloomberg reports that weapons designed for military use, such as the Kalashnikov AK series, have been illegally flooding France over the past few years, with state bodies recording double digit increases.
“The French black market for weapons has been inundated with eastern European war artillery and arms,” Philippe Capon, the head of UNSA police union, told Bloomberg. “They are everywhere in France.”
Strict gun laws prevent the law abiding from protecting themselves. Forget Trump’s attention whoring for a minute and ask yourself: If some of those dead Charlie Hebdo employees were armed, would they all be dead?