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Paris Killings Show Rise of Banned French ‘Weapons of War’

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The masked, black-clad killers whose Paris attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo today took 12 lives were carrying Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles. The scary thing in France, where gun-control laws are far stricter than in the U.S., is that their weapons choice wasn’t surprising.

Semi-automatic and automatic firearms are banned, but that hasn’t stopped drug dealers and terrorists from acquiring them in increasing numbers, according to the National Observatory for Delinquency, a state body created in 2003 by then-Interior Minister and later President Nicolas Sarkozy. The numbers of illegal weapons in France have increased by double digits for years, the body says.