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The Detection and Policing of Gun Crime: Challenges to the effective policing of gun crime in Europe

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In this paper, the authors used qualitative data generated from interviews with police, policy and decision makers from 13 European countries to determine how stakeholders perceive that national variations in firearms legislation affect the policing of gun-enabled crime within and across EU countries.
Abstract
Despite a shared understanding across the European Union (EU) that access to firearms by the general public should be restricted, detailed legislation regarding the ownership, use and trade of firearms varies between EU member states. It is unclear, however, how such variations impact on the policing of gun-enabled crime. By using qualitative data generated from interviews with police, policy and decision makers from 13 European countries, we aim to determine how stakeholders perceive that national variations in firearms legislation affect the policing of gun-enabled crime within and across EU countries. Four main themes were identified from the qualitative data: disparities in legislation, disparities in the priority given and the resources allocated to investigations into gun-enabled crime, as well as interventions. Owing to the aforementioned disparities, cross-national investigations into incidents of gun crime are at risk of remaining impaired in their effectiveness. Therefore, more legislative coherency as well as sustainable long-term interventions will be needed to successfully reduce ownership and use of firearms in the criminal world. In this context, a departure from an exclusive use of an economic model of gun crime is recommended to allow for a better understanding of the dynamics of the black gun market.

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The Detection and Policing Of Gun Crime: Challenges to the effective policing of gun crime
in Europe
Mike Hellenbach, Sue Elliott, Jeane Gerard, Rebecca Crookes, Thanos Stamos
Coventry University
Helen Poole
Northampton University
Erica Bowen
University of Worcester
In press in European Journal of Criminology

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Abstract
Despite a shared understanding across the EU that access to firearms by the general public
should be restricted, detailed legislation regarding the ownership, use and trade of firearms
varies between EU member states. It is unclear however, how such variations impact on the
policing of gun enabled crime. By using qualitative data generated from interviews with
police, policy and decision makers from thirteen European countries, the authors of this
article aim to determine how stakeholders perceive that national variations in firearms
legislation impact on the policing of gun enabled crime within and across EU countries. Four
main themes were identified from the qualitative data: disparities in Legislation, disparities in
Priority given and the Resources allocated to investigations into gun enabled crime as well as
Interventions. Due to the aforementioned disparities, cross-national investigations into
incidents of gun crime are at risk of remaining impaired in their effectiveness. Therefore,
more legislative coherency as well as sustainable long-term interventions will be needed to
successfully reduce ownership and use of firearms in the criminal world. In this context, a
departure from an exclusive use of an economic model of gun crime is recommended to
allow for a better understanding of the dynamics of the black gun market.
Keywords
Firearm, policy, intervention, illegal, investigation

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Introduction
Historically, guns have always had a legal place in society and have been available to groups
such as hunters, sport shooters, collectors or arms dealers. Furthermore, firearms are a
commodity of monetary value and are bought and sold on the European and global market;
the global arms trade has been estimated to amount to USD 100 billion a year (Amnesty
International, 2015). If handled and stored responsibly firearms do not necessarily pose an
immediate threat to public safety. If, however, used inappropriately, firearms can have wide-
ranging social and economic costs. It is estimated that globally in the period 2007-12
approximately 508,000 people have died as a result of violence with a firearm. Excluding
victims of legal intervention and armed conflicts, the majority (n=419,000) have fallen victim
to intentional or unintentional homicides (Small Arms Survey (SAS), 2015a). In addition to
the human and social costs, the global, economic impact of non-conflict armed violence in
terms of lost productivity is estimated to be as high as USD 163.3 billion, or 0.14 per cent of
the annual global Gross Domestic Product (SAS, 2016).
Although Western-Europe has one of the lowest Gun Enabled Crime (GEC) rates in the
world (UNODC, 2014) the number of illegally held firearms in the European Union (EU) is
estimated to be up to 67 million (Duquet and Van Alstein, 2015). Illegal firearms are often
used in organised crime activities such as drug trafficking, prostitution, money laundering
and gang related violence (Hales, Lewis and Silverstone, 2006; Robert and Innes, 2009;
Squires, Grimshaw and Solomon 2008). In this context, the use of firearms poses a
significant de-stabilizing factor in European societies. It is estimated that illicit trafficking has
been directly responsible for at least 10,000-15,000 firearms related deaths in EU member
states over the past decade, (UNODC, 2014).

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Getting a clear comparative picture of the prevalence of GEC is, however, difficult as
statistical definitions and counting rules vary across countries. Often the definition of GEC;
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
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robberies, domestic violence etc.; that do not allow detailed analyses of the social, cultural or
situational contexts in which offences may have occurred.
In this context, national statistics on gun homicides provide the best data that allow for cross-
national comparisons. Duquet and Van Alstein (2015) state that the European countries with
the highest rates of gun homicide in the total numbers of homicides are Montenegro (93%),
Cyprus (63%), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (50%), Italy (45%) and Ireland
(42%). In the same study it is revealed that countries with the lowest firearm homicide rates
per 100,000 inhabitants are Iceland (0%), Luxembourg (0%), Malta (0%), the United
Kingdom (0.04%), Poland (0.05%), Slovenia (0.05%), Austria (0.06%), Denmark (0.06%)
and Germany (0.07%).
Unlike US law, within the EU, a shared understanding exists whereby possession and use of
firearms should be limited to state authorities and access to firearms by the general public
should be restricted (EU Firearms Directive 91/477/EEC, UN Protocol against the Illicit
Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition
2001). There are, however, significant variations across EU member states as to how legal
gun ownership, use and trade are regulated in detail.
The focus of legislation across EU member states reflects the original 1991 EU Firearms
Directive and the subsequent 2005 United Nations Firearms Protocol (UNFP), and 2008
revised EU Directive. These tools themselves do not define the illegal use of firearms, nor do

5
e but instead focus on defining the mechanisms of
controlling the legal acquisition and possession of firearms. The issue of determining
appropriate penalties for contravening the conditions specified by the Directorate was
judiciary, with the result that each country could determine
appropriate penalties in line with their individual legal frameworks.
Full coherence, however, could not be established as imprecise terminology was used
regarding hunting weapons (Spapens, 2007). Moreover, the directive did not provide a
universal definition of antique weapons, leaving loopholes that potentially enable the illegal
acquisition and trafficking of such firearms across EU member states (Diquet and van Alsten,
2015). The 2005 UNFP merely 
expels, is designed to expel or may be readily converted to expel a shot, bullet or projectile
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Amendments to the EU Directive adopted this definition, and maintained the exception
clauses identified previously. The 2005 UNFP identified that antique firearms and their
replicas should be defined in accordance with domestic laws, but that any weapon
manufactured in 1899 or earlier shall be identified as an antique and therefore not as a
firearm.
INSERT TABLE ONE ABOUT HERE
Allowing EU member states to impose stricter rules regarding firearm deactivation standards,
further weakened the directive. Finally, the Directive 2008/51/EC failed to provide a
universal approach to the trading of gas and alarm weapons despite their frequent use by
criminals, as they can be relatively easily converted into lethal firearms (Diquet and van
Alsten, 2015). As specific requirements for obtaining and using firearms in EU member
states have been discussed elsewhere (Levush, 2013), table 2 outlines some of the major

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References
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Frequently Asked Questions (10)
Q1. What are the future works in "The detection and policing of gun crime: challenges to the effective policing of gun crime in europe" ?

This would allow intelligence on the illegal trading and trafficking of firearms to be gained and shared across member states, to better prevent other criminals arming themselves and potentially prevent future injury, death and damage ( Diquet and van Alsten, 2015 ). 26 However, as no retrospective application is foreseen, the new directive will only apply to guns that will be deactivated in the future. 25 A further finding of this study has been the disparity in firearms legislations among EU member states regarding deactivation standards for firearms and access to gas and alarm weapons. The newly amended EU firearms directive, which was introduced in April 2016, is certainly a promising step in the right direction by setting stricter conditions regarding the standards of deactivated guns and the circulation of such firearms ; establishing common criteria concerning alarm weapons to prevent their transformation into fully functioning firearms ; introducing tighter rules regarding online acquisition of firearms, including key gun parts and ammunition, through the internet ; and imposing stricter conditions for collectors to limit the risk of sale to criminals ( cf. European Commission 2015a ). 

It is estimated that globally in the period 2007-12 approximately 508,000 people have died as a result of violence with a firearm. 

In the short term, by allocating resources and being proactive it is possible to initially achieve significant success in these areas. 

”7FUKLEDuring the interviews, participants described the impact of disparity in prioritisation, as having a direct effect on the resourcing and structure of policing and, therefore, on the investigation of GEC. 

“The issue of firearms was not a priority until after the shooting that occurred in Liege in 2011; this is because if there is no data, it is not a priority, which then means there are no resources or funding to develop and attain resources, which then causes a cycle. 

On a political and investigative level this means to harness all available cross-national recourses in an attempt to overcome incompetence and conflicts over authority of knowledge. 

by providing a platform to better share information regarding prevalence and nature of GEC within and across EU member states, central firearms focal points will be essential in enabling28governments to develop national strategies on how to self-sufficiently yet coherently fight GEC across the EU. 

By drawing on unique qualitative data, generated in interviews with multiple informants, including high-ranking policy makers and members of the police from thirteen EU member states, the authors of this article seek to question the economic model of gun crime by focusing on decision-making processes regarding the policing of GEC across EU member states. 

In an attempt to mediate these effects, interviewers who were native speakers were used when interviews had to be conducted in a language other than English, rendering the translator or interpreter as a less visible part of the research process (cf. Squires, 2009). 

In the same study it is revealed that countries with the lowest firearm homicide rates per 100,000 inhabitants are Iceland (0%), Luxembourg (0%), Malta (0%), the United Kingdom (0.04%), Poland (0.05%), Slovenia (0.05%), Austria (0.06%), Denmark (0.06%) and Germany (0.07%).