Have things changed after Paris attacks? VRT journalist does Kalashnikov test

The EU introduced stricter regulations for firearms after the Paris terror attacks. Journalist Tom Van de Weghe wanted to find out if the fresh legislation is working, and travelled to Slovakia to buy a Kalashnikov rifle from 1985. Next, the big question was whether it had been properly deactivated.

The EU issued more stringent guidelines on weapons sales and the deactivation of old firearms. This is because terrorists managed to reactivate so-called deactivated guns (which were supposed to be useless) in the past, thus turning them back into murder weapons.

Terrorists bought their weapons in Slovakia (among other places). Tom Van de Weghe travelled to eastern Europe to the shop where the firearms came from used by Amedy Coulibali at the Jewish store in Paris: "I wanted to find out whether this backdoor still works: buying a deactivated weapon over there, and next have it repaired to make it ready to use again."

The first part was a piece of cake: Van de Weghe easily managed to acquire a Kalashnikov from 1985. "It included an official certificate to prove that the machine gun was deactivated according to the new European rules."

"European legislation works"

Van de Weghe had no problems to return home, despite carrying a big weapon in his luggage. But did he carry a potential murder weapon or not? That was the one million dollar question.

Van de Weghe went to the arms factory in Liège to have his Kalashnikov tested. "Their conclusion was that Slovakia did a good job. The weapon had been properly deactivated and it would never be of any use again."

"European legislation has proved its worth", concludes Van de Weghe. This being said, a lot of weapons remain in circulation in the underground circuit. They may have been deactivated, but not properly and could fall in the hands of terrorists.