Jason Burke is bringing the Guardian goods (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/18/arms-race-criminal-gangs-helping-terrorists-get-weapons-report-warns). You see, I am a gun lover. I loved ‘using’ guns since 1978. I love the design; I most definitely admire and love the tradecraft that the maker had which allows a mere metal object to be placed with 9mm precision over a range of 600 meters. The need and the skill for any person to get the bullet placed EXACTLY there where it needs to be, allowing your brain to correct all needed parameters, like for example wind to make sure that you aim for that point that allows the bullet to hit the bulls-eye dead centre. It is almost a fluidic interaction of skill and art, a balance between the machine, the environment and the shooter. Once you realise that part in this, the admiration for the skill that you get to hone, that passion will stay with you, probably for a lifetime. It was never about looking like the main player in Call of Duty, when I started my passion for guns, there was merely the Atari 2600, and there was no shooting game at that point, there was Pong, there was Pac-Man and there were the Space Invaders.
Even in those days, guns were expensive, so I was limited to the gun that the club had and my granny would not tolerate guns in the house and I personally had no issues with that. In addition to not having the dough to own a rifle, I also never had the initial drive to own one, so that was all fine to me, I just wanted to be on the range and shoot (and hit the mark dead centre). Of course I was a little bit blessed; the club had Feinwerkbau rifles as well as a few .22 LR’s, as well as a collection of pistols so we had all the good goods. It would be another two years until I got introduced to the 7.62 FN FAL, the UZI, the 9mm pistol and another two years until my first Remington.
So when I saw ‘Military grade firearms increasingly available to terrorists in Europe – report‘, I was not at all surprised. It is not merely the ““arms race” between criminal groups in Europe risks making it easier for terrorists to obtain high-powered, military grade firearms“, the fact remains that the image shows the Kalashnikov and the mention ‘Part of a haul of £100,000 worth of eastern European guns smuggled into the UK‘, we are missing that even those with a legal permit are willing to get their fingers on a genuine Kalashnikov. They are willing and eager to part with well over £850, making that part an easy £8500, so not only is it about the ‘arms race‘ it is a very lucrative business as well. If the movie ‘Lord of War‘ is true to some extent and the ‘entrepreneurial’ spirit can buy it per kilo, with a discount per container, making the profit even sweeter. The decently low risk and the huge returns are only going to make it worse for the foreseeable future in Europe. The stream of refugees and the Schengen open borders policies allow for transport from ‘who-gives-a-damn‘ somewhere near the Russian border to the shoreline of the Pass de Calais. That alone should be the nightmare of France (Germany has its own HK market). Even as I admit that I would still love to get my fingers on a full stock AK-47 with silencer as well as the Druganov SVD with its optional noise reduction system. We see that this market is for the collectors that have the cash (and the storage) as well as the criminal elements, so there is a larger stream of customers available. This changes the plot by a large amount. Even as one side will never be a threat to human life, it remains a larger issue. I for one would not have them in an unprotected setting, so the fact that someone (read: trigger happy doped up junk) steals it from my house is a larger worry for me than I care for, so I do not have either of them. Weirdly enough, that issue had been on my mind a lot more lately, because every shooter (or at least all I know) always had a reverence for the Remington. The fact that they went belly up means that if I would not be able to get one soon, the era of the Remington passes me by and that makes me sad, as it would any dedicated range shooter.
There is a part of debate with “The survey says long-standing barriers to obtaining firearms have broken down in recent years owing to the emergence of the internet, cross-border smuggling of military-grade assault rifles into the EU, the conversion of large numbers of blank-firing guns and the widespread reactivation of weapons previously rendered unusable to be sold to collectors“, in the first, the internet was never an issue, the darknet is a much larger issue as people can actively seek out what they need, a window shopping experience with almost complete anonymity. Smuggling operations are indeed an issue, but that is what the open border policy brought, if the government officials are in denial, they should never have been elected in the first place, so the entire matter is not new, it has been there since 1985, it was not until the 1998 Russian financial crisis that the Russian situation ‘exploded’ with container loads of Russian goods (read: military hardware) becoming readily available. So in that, this entire situation has been around for almost 2 decades, OK, 15 years is a lot more accurate. So when we see ‘a criminal gang in 2016‘, we seem to forget that these are either new player, or that the authorities remained in denial for well over 5 years. They aren’t but they seem to be. That evidence is also shown by the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/oct/05/steven-greenoe-gun-smuggling-trial). Here even the American entrepreneurs try to participate by getting a few slices of profit cake. So as the clever minded amateur goes with “Steven Greenoe, 37, bought weapons from American gun shops, broke them down to their component parts, and smuggled them into the UK in his luggage, Liverpool crown court heard on Wednesday“, I reckon that he needed to inflate his US Marine pension, it is not valued the way it ever was. You see the lesser amateur gets them ‘attached’ to the inside of the fuel tank of a truck. The Diesel nicely lubes and cleans the weapon whilst the trucker drives his trip and up to 4 AK-47’s giving him an easy £1,000 on the side per trip, a little more if the driver takes a double load of Makarov’s. What a luxury those open borders make, don’t they?
Yet the important part is that there is an issue. It is not merely the terrorists. These people become the go to guys for the Lone Wolves in the UK. With the danger rising of the dealers out for cash and not knowing who their clientele is, making it an almost ironic sense of justice for them to deal to a lone wolf only to come home and learn that the wife and kiddies were gunned down by a crazed extremists who hated all those who did not take him/her seriously, it ended up being all in a day’s work.
The previous part is more important than you think; you see the lone wolf is often in emotional turmoil. Unlike the actual terrorist who has a clear agenda, this person merely needs fame (read: infamy) and recognition, as such, emotion takes over and he/she is most likely to fail, yet not before they kill the innocent bystanders that were never part of any equation. That is what worries the intelligence community the most because there is no defence that would work and that is the ball game at present. You see the article ends with “arms races between criminal groups across the EU“, that is not the scary part. It is for ‘government officials‘ but those criminal elements remain all about exploitation and profit, so in the end they either slaughter each other (not the biggest issue of any week) or keep each other at bay, in most cases the innocent bystanders are less and less likely to get hit, merely because it makes for bad business (remember their profit based mindset). Yet another article partially opposes it with “Converted and reactivated weapons in Europe are seen as having posed an acute problem in recent years. Amedy Coulibaly, who carried out shootings in Paris in January 2015, used two reactivated automatic rifles and six handguns. The firearms had been sold in Slovakia before being reactivated and eventually smuggled into Coulibaly’s hands” which is merely one part in a setting of several. So the weapon smuggle is not merely the one part, you see the ‘reactivated‘ weapons are seemingly a much larger problem in the scheme of things and here we see the larger flaw. There is a legion of articles and papers that talk about reactivated weapons, meaning that the deactivation was improper, incomplete and actually not very inactive. The fact that the NABIS (National Ballistics Intelligence Service) gives us “The process of reactivation in respect of certain types of weapons may not require a sophisticated workshop and can be done with tools available from a DIY store. In one case, for example, reactivation was carried out in the kitchen of a one bedroom sheltered housing bedsit” (see attached) gives additional evidence that the entire ‘deactivation process‘ is as flawed as it is likely ever to get and fixing that one part will make the issue smaller, but will not make it go away. In this we have evidence for almost 7 years and the fact that they European commission is all about reports and as far as I can tell not about actual action makes the EU again merely a gravy train of income opportunity and not a resolving entity of any degree.
So when we have seen the events and the evidence, the article remains true to some point, the factual issue that works to the advantage of the police is that the real terrorist is not screaming its presence and neither is the arms dealer, so they are both in a dark room playing ‘Marco‘ (wait for it) ‘Polo‘ hoping that the police or the intelligence workers don’t hear either of them, which works out well for the police (for now), the lone wolf is a much harder issue. that person might shout ‘I need a gun‘ and if no flags are raised on that person the police will miss the opportunity, yet the arms dealer will never miss up on a golden opportunity and will go with a go between. So the most likely part is that the wrong person ends up with the gun that is the true danger to every innocent bystander.
The availability remains, yet with open borders the goods can safely travel through Europe, making yet another case that Brexit has the option to solve issues, although in this particular instance it is not really a Brexit matter, yet the borders have been for a much longer time. Yet valid question remains: ‘Should a £12 million smuggle issue stop £200 billion in trade value‘, I think that anyone who states that it is true is absolutely loony tunes. The Brexit issue is a lot larger, and on that entire scale smuggling is almost quite literally the smallest issue of them all.