Converted Firearms: A Transnational Problem with Local Harm

Marsha de Vries

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Over the last decade, the Dutch police as well as police forces in several other Western-European countries were confronted with an increase in the availability and use of converted firearms. Converted firearms were originally blank firing weapons, for example gas and alarm pistols, which are converted to fire live ammunition. These firearms were used for threats, (attempted) killings, robberies and drug related crimes. Although the trade in converted firearms seems to have a small-scale character when judged from a global perspective, the use of these weapons imposes a serious threat to society as converted firearms are cheap and easy to obtain by criminals with an evidently high inclination to shoot, in particular young men from ethnic minority groups. In this article the trade in converted firearms is described using a script perspective. Several underlying mechanisms are distinguished that facilitate the availability of converted firearms on the Dutch criminal market, especially the existence of transnational social networks and the limited context of control. Finally, several strategies are described that focus on the demand-side as well as on the supply-side of the criminal market for converted firearms, such as joint police investigations, local administrative measures, pre-emptive searches and tackling the use of converted firearms by exploiting the anxieties of criminals about the safety of such weapons
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)205-216
    JournalEuropean journal on criminal policy and research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • METIS-286133
    • IR-81007


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