Contrary to popular hype, European gun control does not mean that European citizens lack access to firearms. In fact, street prices of more common firearms in European capitals are not much higher than what one would expect to pay in a gun shop in the US.
London has become famous for two things: Strict gun control and easy availability of firearms for their criminal classes. Generally, shopping for black market weapons on a small scale is not like browsing gun shops in places where the weapons are legal. Browsing is bad form, and you must be prepared to buy once the connection is met. Extended negotiation or waffling on a deal is bad form and more likely than not going to burn the possibility of any future contact with the other party. Selections are often very limited. Unlike a conventional commercial purchase, the buyer will probably not be able to dictate the make and model of gun that he will buy, but will probably be able to request the type. IE, an automatic or revolver, and dictate the caliber. If the weapon is an assault rifle, the buyer will probably be able to pick the make and model, as long as it is some derivative of an AK.
Smugglers will favor compact weapons that have a high profit ratio. This usually means handguns that are cheap in the source country and can be sold at a healthy enough markup for the middlemen chain. The selection of guns available in London is a pretty good example of this.
The Uzi pictured in this British illustration is probably not the model commonly available there, but the picture is meant to represent the four most available guns in London. Prices range from 200 to 300 British pounds but I suspect the Uzi is a little more. The most likely Uzi models they have available are the full size ones. While the Brits credit the availability to the Israelis, they conveniently leave out that copies are in production in at least four other countries. This includes China, Croatia and quite possibly Iran.
Source countries include most East European countries other than Poland, Russia, and China through middlemen in Jamaica. Most likely, the Jamaican connection somehow involves Cuba. Rumor has it that many newer model quality guns on the black market are products of Croatia being marketed by a loose alliance of “former” intelligence agents also responsible for the infamous “Amsterdam cell phone gun” which is a handgun built to closely resemble a cell phone.
We are researching how the connections are made for these guns in Europe, but what I found is that black Europeans tend to have more ready access than white Europeans, but the white Europeans tend to have access to the more costly higher quality weapons.
The other sources of black market guns in Europe are “repaired” guns that were once deactivated war trophies traded about by collectors. The craftsmanship involved in “reactivating” the war trophy guns makes them a costly item traded about in antique collecting circles as a “special” item among close knit associates usually connected with the government of one type or another and frequently retired military personnel.
There is also a limited business in stolen military weapons, but it has been hard to determine how extensive it is. My guess is that it is pretty minimal given the high security at most military installations, although Russian army deserters commonly take weapons with them to sell once they reach closer to the west. In such cases, the weapons will usually be folding stock AK derivatives like the AK74 or AK 100
What can prove even more difficult than obtaining guns in Europe is getting supplies of ammunition. The old rule of “buck a bullet” often applies. Sometimes (like in the UK) there is an “underground” of reloaders manufacturing ammunition from components on a small scale and secret indoor shooting ranges. Otherwise, the ammo is smuggled in and the smugglers expect to make a healthy profit.
This select clientele is usually former military personnel employed as bodyguards and sometimes mercenaries. Unlike the US, mercenaries are openly recruited in several European countries. These people usually have better connections for weapons, but are more select and secretive about who they deal with.
I have been reading reports of Albanian and Middle Eastern heroin running gangs using heavier military weapons in France, including one apparent gang leader who fired several shots from an RPG-7 at police in a long drawn out car chase and gun battle at an apartment complex.
The reality of the European black market arms situation is that guns’ relative ease can be smuggled in from places where they are cheap.
From what I have gathered, a number of connections for the guns are made the following ways:
|At large parties and nightclubs, especially the “underground” nightclubs where narcotics are commonly available. These will be frequented by gangs, organized crime, and military deserters.|
|Through professional bodyguards, mercenaries and the organizations that broker their services. This includes a number of the “bodyguard” and “mercenary” schools operating in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, often through a loose alliance of “retired” military and intelligence personnel. Gaining these people’s trust can be difficult, but once they trust you, they can make almost anything available, up to and including combat aircraft. It can be very difficult to sift the bullshitters from the real players so don’t put money up front until you can see some serious evidence that they can deliver.|
|Through loose associations of militaria collectors and former gun collectors and dealers. Most are under active investigations by law enforcement, so they are usually pretty paranoid, but they do have access to the weapons.|
Those who I found often will not have access to weapons or have them but are unwilling to sell them off:
Political and “terror” organizations like the IRA and Orangemen. They have weapons, but jealously guard their contacts and almost never sell them off. Marxist organizations rarely sell weapons to anybody other than “fellow travelers” in allied Marxist organizations. The trick is to find the occasional deserter or corrupt individual in one of these organizations who can be convinced to give something up for cash or something of value.
Skinhead and Neo Nazis. They may be ultra-violent, but they are mainly brawlers and vandals, not bomb makers or gunfighters. Weapons they use are usually improvised and disposable and nearly all arms dealers in Europe avoid dealing with the skinheads. They are usually under active investigation by any number of agencies thus it becomes very risky for most arms dealers to associate with them and thus what weapons the skinheads get, they rarely are willing to let loose of. They do usually know where and how much the weapons cost, but are usually looking to make a connection rather than become the connection.
In general, the survivor in Europe is often going to be on the same ground as the criminals until some events happen that separate the good people from the bad people. That is not to say certain weapon permits are impossible to obtain in Europe. In fact, there is a growing international movement for the rights of citizen’s to own weapons which is challenging Marxist policy in many west European countries.