As the gun control debate continues to rage across these United States, many lessons can be learned from those who have already had their firearms taken away. As we head on down the road toward disarming law-abiding citizens, it seems right and proper to examine the many teachable moments Europeans can offer us. Why not begin with the center of the E.U., Brussels?
Brussels-Prevention & Security (BPS), a public security body created in 2015 and charged with developing a centralized regional security policy, recently conducted a study and, lo and behold, you wouldn’t believe what they found. More than 40% of the residents in Brussels say they tote at least one object for self-defense. Why carry a .22 or a .38 when you can arm yourself with such effective weapons as umbrellas, keys, extendable batons, knives, air guns, even – wait for it – jewelry?
As well, one in three citizens of Brussels signed up for a course in self-defense. A real “karate man bleeds on the inside” moment to behold. That line from Eddie Murphy in the classic movie Trading Places would be funny if it weren’t something these folks cling to for their personal safety. What is the only thing that equalizes a 120-pound woman and a potential attacker?
Why a gun, of course.
But if the government won’t allow you to defend yourself with the finest of self-defense weapons, undoubtedly you will have to take other measures. Thus, some residents in the heart of the E.U. have decided on a self-imposed curfew. The BPS survey showed that 15% of commuters and residents avoid the streets of the Belgian capital after dark. Want to take in a movie at night in Brussels? Then you’d better arm yourself to the teeth with an —
One of every three residents also said they had taken steps to protect their homes against robberies, but it is unclear what they use to defend their lives and property. Leave the meat cleaver by the bed? Stash a Ginsu knife under the pillow? Wear to bed grandma’s sharpest diamond so you can slash an intruder? Perhaps the best way to go about it is to booby-trap your Brussels domicile Home Alone-style by hoisting a bucket of marbles above your front door. Just be careful to remove it before your wife comes home.
This business of arming yourself with inferior weaponry would be all so amusing if it weren’t true. To say that the Belgian legal framework surrounding gun ownership is rigid is an understatement. Belgium prohibits the possession of fully automatic weapons, and semi-automatics are allowed only in certain situations. Private possession of a handgun is only “allowed after obtaining special permission from the government.” In short, Belgium is home to a series of restrictive gun laws that have forced law-abiding citizens to turn to anything they can get their hands on to defend themselves. As well, gunsmiths, hunters, marksmen, and collectors all must toe another legal line in Brussels to function.
Is it any wonder that obtaining a firearm illegally in Brussels has rapidly become big business? As the gun control situation in the United States heats up, with Second Amendment sanctuary movements sweeping across the country and local politicians trying to thwart them, we might ask ourselves what we can learn from the citizens of Brussels.
And the answer is – a lot.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.