MSNBC Pundit Blames 'Ease of Getting Guns' for Brussels Bombing

Tuesday was a sad and terrible day for Belgium as all eyes and prayers turned towards Brussels in the wake of Radical Islamic terror attacks. As of the writing of this piece it is known that there were four bombings in the city, two at an airport and two in the subway system. The knowledge that the attacks were bombings didn’t stop Atlantic Washington editor Steve Clemons, who phoned into MSNBC and was inside the country, from criticizing Belgium for their “ease of getting guns here.

Clemons’ criticism was in response to a question from Huffington Post Senior Political Editor Sam Stein about how it could of happened and why Belgium. “I guess that's a bit of a surprise to us around the table because the city was on high alert owing to the arrest [of Salah Abdeslam]  … why is Brussels and Belgium at large being the epicenter for this? What is it about that city that allows something like this to fester?

Clemons’ immediate response was not about the proliferation of Radical Islam in Europe or of the swell of migrants streaming in from Syria. It was also not about ISIS using the refugee flows to hide their movements. Instead he hit Belgium for having what many countries have, a black market for illegal firearms.

I don't know if I can answer that. You know, when we were, on Sunday morning, with the -- the foreign minister of Belgium. I had wanted to ask him, “You know, why is it known that it's so easy to access guns in Belgium than other of the major states in Europe, it's something that everybody knows here, that there is a black market, that there is an ease of getting guns here. As compared to many other parts of Europe.” 

An odd response to a terror attack that was carried out by extremists using bombs. The materials used to make bombs and suicide vests are not items that require a background check and can be obtained through the same black market channels as firearms.

After taking some time to talk about how investigators uncovered a “substantial” and “sophisticated” terror network during the manhunt for Salah Abdeslam, he finally came down on the reason why Belgium is the “epicenter” in this case. “It's easy for bad folks to hide among good folks … it's easier for folks to slip through Belgium borders than some other borders.

Clemons’ analysis of the situation, which he warned was “speculative,” was that Belgium’s borders were porous enough for terrorists to pass freely through and find shelter in their networks. Clemons also seems to inadvertently make the argument that terrorists can get access to weapons whether they are legal or not, as shown by the attacks in Paris and now Brussels. 

Transcript below: 

MSNBC
Morning Joe Block
March 22, 2016
6:34:31 – 6:36:39 AM Eastern

SAM STEIN: I guess that's a bit of a surprise to us around the table because the city was on high alert, owing to the arrest [of Salah Abdeslam], and yet, as you are explaining it, Steve, the security apparatus either wasn't apparent or maybe isn’t as robust as we would think. I have a little bit of a separate question playing off of what we talked about last block, which is, for me at least, I am curious, why is Brussels and Belgium at large being the epicenter for this? What is it about that city that allows something like this to fester? 

STEVE CLEMONS: I don't know if I can answer that. You know, when we were, on Sunday morning, with the -- the foreign minister of Belgium. I had wanted to ask him, “ You know, why is it known that it's so easy to access guns in Belgium than other of the major states in Europe, it's something that everybody knows here, that there is a black market, that there is an ease of getting guns here. As compared to many other parts of Europe.” 

He never -- we never got into that. What he did share with us was that, as they began to unravel what was coming in to him from the Salah Abdeslam case, he said they were unraveling a much, much more substantial network than they had anticipated. And with much greater capacity and sophistication. He said this publicly on the record to us at the—at the forum. So that doesn't explain why Brussels is this way other than the fact that I think, you know, it's -- I want to be careful speculating here.

Tell the Truth 2016

[NBC Foreign Correspondent] Ayman [Mohyeldin] has done such great reporting on this in the past. I think that, if you want to be -- to do bad in a place like Brussels or Paris, it's easy for bad folks to hide among good folks. And there are a lot of really great immigrants and those that are naturalizing here, but it's easy for bad folks to find thoroughfares in and out of these places. And—And my sense, and again this is speculative, but it’s what I heard at the forum, is that it's easier for folks to slip through Belgium borders than some other borders. 

Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas C. Fondacaro