EUROPE - More Guns, More Bodies?

Arno Froese

Gun ownership is rising across Europe, a continent that until recently faced far less gun crime and violence than much of the globe. Not long ago it was rare to see armed British police.

The uptick was spurred in part by insecurity arising from terrorist attacks—many with firearms, and reflects government efforts to get illegal guns registered by offering amnesty to owners.

Europe is still far from facing the gun prevalence and violence in Latin America or the U.S., which lead the world. World-wide civilian ownership of firearms rose 32% in the decade through 2017, to 857.3 million guns, according to the Small Arms Survey, a research project in Geneva. Europe accounts for less than 10% of the total.

But Europe’s shift has been rapid, and notable in part because of strict national restrictions. In most European countries, gun permits require thorough background checks, monitored shooting practice and tests on regulations. In Belgium, France and Germany, most registered guns may only be used at shooting ranges. Permits to bear arms outside of shooting ranges are extremely difficult to obtain.

With more weapons comes more gun-related violence. National police statistics in France, Germany and Belgium show an uptick in gun law violations since 2015. Europe doesn’t have current continent-wide statistics.

Armed robbery and similar crimes often entail illicit guns, while legally registered firearms tend to appear in suicide and domestic-violence statistics, said Nils Duquet of the Flemish Peace Institute, a Belgian research center.

Belgian applications for shooting licenses almost doubled after the terrorist attacks by an Islamic State cell in Paris in Nov. 2015 and four months later in Brussels, offering “a clear indication of why people acquired them,” said Mr. Duquet.

A Belgian would-be gun owner must pass almost a year of shooting and theory tests, plus psychological checks, said Sébastien De Thomaz.

The gun-range owner questions the impact of that policy. “With each terror attack, the legislation gets stricter,” he said. “For the black market, everything stays the same.”

-www.wsj.com, 7 January 2019

Arno's commentary

Europe claims to be the most prosperous, secure, and peaceful continent on earth. One of the contributing factors, experts agree, is the rarity of gun ownership. The result: significant reduction in homicides by firearms. For example, Germany lists only 1.9 homicides per 1 million people, in comparison with the US: 29.7 per million.

What does the Bible say? “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matthew 26:52). For Christians, there is another sword. In chapter 10, verse 34, it says: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Christians need to take advantage of this real sword, this real gun, and proclaim loudly and clearly that salvation from this demon-saturated world is only possible through the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ, the living Word. There is no other way.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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