Project TARGET is an international, EU-funded research project that focuses on the impact of gun trafficking on gun violence in the EU. The project includes an
- explorative study of 34 countries: 27 EU member states, the UK, and six countries of the Western Balkans
- and an in-depth study of seven countries: Belgium, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Sweden
on the topic of gun violence and trafficking.
Visit the dedicated webpage to read the full project report.
Main project findings
Researchers involved in project TARGET concluded that gun trafficking is a multifaceted phenomenon that predominantly impacts criminal and terrorist gun violence, rather than domestic violence or other types of disputes.
Armed robbers and low-level criminals generally acquire firearms to threaten people or as a sign of status, and they are increasingly doing so through purchasing (converted) non-live-firing firearms. The prevailing type of such firearms became Turkish blank-firing weapons purchased in countries with lenient legislation towards these weapons. There is also an influx of easy-to-convert Flobert guns being trafficked into and within Europe, which is converted in transit or at their place of destination.
Higher-level criminals have more access to firearms, including, sometimes, also military grade firearms, through the smuggling of conflict legacy weapons or the trafficking of reactivated firearms. While jihadi terrorists tend to acquire their firearms predominantly through criminal connections, rightwing terrorists more often tend to rely on legal purchases, firearm assembling and internet purchases.
Project findings also note that an increase in gun availability can lead to an arms race among criminals, increased rates of gun violence and general sentiments of insecurity among the population.
- Publication date
- 21 December 2021
- Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs