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Monitoring the Response to Converted Firearms in Europe

Publisher: SIPRI
SIPRI, Stockholm:
October, 2020

Prior to the recent changes to the European Union (EU) Firearms Directive, and due to inconsistent national regulations, several types of readily convertible firearms could be purchased with few restrictions in a number of EU member states, modified into lethal weapons and trafficked within the region. This situation contributed to the growing criminal use of models that were easy to convert into lethal firearms. In response, the EU adopted a number of new regulatory measures from 2017 onwards and supported joint law enforcement operations that specifically targeted trafficking in converted firearms. Based on research undertaken by the Small Arms Survey, this paper reviews these EU efforts and the evolving dynamics of firearms conversion in Europe as a whole. It argues that while EU member states are moving towards greater harmonization of their national legislation, there have been significant delays in some countries, and that the interpretation of certain standards and procedures remains inconsistent. The paper also argues that improving the strategic intelligence picture of illicit firearms trafficking in Europe remains critical for measuring the success of these efforts and for detecting emerging threats.


I. Introduction

II. Harmonization of the legislation

III. Joint law enforcement operations

IV. Trends in the proliferation of converted firearms  

V. Conclusions


Benjamin Jongleux <p>(France) is a Consultant with the Small Arms Survey. His work focuses on illicit trafficking and the criminal use of firearms and ammunition, as well as on authorized international small arms transfers.</p>
Nicolas Florquin <p>(France/United States) is a Senior Researcher and the Head of the Data and Analytics Unit at the Small Arms Survey. He oversees projects and undertakes research on armed actors and illicit flows of arms and ammunition, with a particular focus on Africa and Europe.</p>