The Flemish Peace Institute is an independent
institute for peace research at the Flemish Parliament.

Project TARGET


In the first phase of Project TARGET quantitative and qualitative data on gun violence and firearm trafficking was collected in 34 European countries (27 Member States of the European Union, the United Kingdom, and six countries in the Western Balkans). In a second phase, dedicated research teams analysed the situation in seven European countries in depth.

The results of the comparative analysis of all the data collected during the different phases of Project TARGET were published in the report Targeting gun violence and trafficking in Europe that was published by the Flemish Peace Institute in December 2021.

The report, Pulling the trigger: gun violence in Europe,  contains the 7 country studies  – Belgium, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Sweden –  that were undertaken as part of the second phase of the project.

Online presentation of research results

The research results of the project were presented during an online presentation on December 13,2021.
Rewatch it here or download a selection of presentations below.

• 1.30 – 1.35 PM: Welcome (Nils Duquet, director Flemish Peace Institute)
• 1.35 – 2.00 PM: Gun violence in Europe: scope and characteristics (Dennis Vanden Auweele, researcher Flemish Peace Institute)

• 2.00 – 2.10 PM: Reflection on the key findings regarding gun violence (Marieke Liem, Leiden University)

• 2.10 – 2.25 PM: Q&A
• 2.25 – 2.35 PM: Short break
• 2.35 – 2.50 PM: The impact of firearms trafficking on violence in Europe (Nils Duquet, Flemish Peace Institute)

• 2.50 – 3.00 PM: Challenges and opportunities to combat firearms trafficking (Richard Martens, Dutch national police).
• 3.00 – 3.15 PM: Q&A
• 3.15 – 3.30 PM: Closing remarks (Febe Liagre, European Commission – DG for Migration and Home Affairs Organized Crime, corruption and drugs- Firearms Group)

More on project TARGET

The regulation of private gun ownership in Europe has been shaped by the objective to limit related security risks, and especially the risks of gun violence in our society. In-depth research into the characteristics and dynamics of gun violence in Europe is scarce, partially as a result of a lack of reliable, comprehensive and detailed data on this phenomenon. Project TARGET aims to improve our understanding of gun violence in Europe and the relationship between gun violence and firearms trafficking.

The main research question of this research project is therefore:

To answer this research question we first have to address the lacuna of knowledge on gun violence across Europe and the firearms used in these acts of violence:

Answering these above questions will provide us with insights into the problems of data collection related to illicit firearms trafficking and gun violence in Europe and on the possibilities for enhancing EU and national policy options to combating illicit firearms trafficking and its impact on gun violence. The final research questions of this project are therefore:

Project TARGET will significantly improve our understanding of the dynamics of gun violence across Europe and the impact of illicit firearms trafficking on gun violence. This improved understanding will allow for better detection, investigation and prosecution of these phenomena. The project results can also be used to strengthen various types of initiatives to combat gun violence from different perspectives (policy, law enforcement and criminal justice, civil society) and at different levels (EU, national, local). As Project TARGET will be the first in-depth study on the relationship between illicit firearms trafficking and different types of gun violence across Europe, it will become a baseline study for future studies monitoring gun violence across Europe and evaluating the impact of various measures undertaken to combat illicit firearms trafficking and gun violence in Europe. In addition, it will enable future research projects on different specific aspects of these security phenomena, for example by identifying the existing challenges with regard to data collection.


Project TARGET is co-funded by the European Union’s Internal Security Fund.