On 29th March, Medium carried an article from the Small Arms Survey providing examples of the use of converted weapons and saying that the conversion of imitation firearms, deactivated weapons, and gas pistols so that they can fire live ammunition was a long-neglected issue that has received more attention after recent attacks in Europe. Those involved range from interested firearm aficionados to organised crime groups, with different groups favouring certain models, modes of transportation, and means of conversion — and with several overlaps and cross-cutting issues. For example, it says, both petty and serious crime actors utilise converted alarm weapons, which fall under the imitation firearm category. Convertible firearms can include any imitation firearms incapable of expelling a projectile; deactivated firearms; and (according to some) semi-automatic weapons turned fully automatic. A new report from the Small Arms Survey on converted firearms in Europe is coming out in mid-April: analysing the typologies of converted firearms, the nature and scope of the conversion threat, the mechanics of trafficking in converted firearms, and the European response to this issue. In addition, the Project SAFTE report — which the Small Arms Survey contributed the chapter on France — on terrorist access to illicit firearms markets in Europe is also coming out in mid-April.
Project SAFTE is an international research project funded by the European Commission. SAFTE stands for Studying the Acquisition of illicit Firearms by Terrorists in Europe. Research is conducted by an international network of firearms experts. It is co-ordinated by the Flemish Peace Institute (Belgium).