When wannabe-terrorist Ayoub El Khazzani was wrestled to the floor of a train in France and given a righteous stomping by pissed off and proactive passengers, they relieved him of a small armory. He had been planning to inflict murder and mayhem with an AKM assault rifle, a semiautomatic pistol, a box cutter, and a container of gasoline. Despite themselves being unarmed, three Americans, a French-American, and a Briton jumped Khazzani, beat him with his own rifle, and put an end to his scheme.

But how did the misfired terrorist acquire his intended implements of destruction in supposedly gun-phobic Europe? Could it be that firearms aren’t quite so unavailable as right-thinking policy-peddlers assure us on their way to insisting that Americans should be disarmed in (supposed) likewise fashion?

It’s a question that was also raised in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack by terrorists wielding AK-style rifles, pistols, and submachine guns. Observers were puzzled because France’s gun laws are relatively restrictive, and the terrorists clearly hadn’t bothered to navigate the byzantine red tape to acquire their weapons. So, where did they come from?

In both cases, the answer is the same. Black markets thrive where legal availability is restricted or forbidden. “The French black market for weapons has been inundated with eastern European war artillery and arms,” French police union official Philippe Capon told Bloomberg back in January. “They are everywhere in France.”

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