Yesterday, in Alphen aan de Rijn town in the Netherlands, there was a terrible massacre. In a local shopping mall, Tristan van der Vlis killed six people and injured sixteen others with a machine gun. Then, he took his own life.
Mr Van der Vlis was a gun club member and had licenses to own five firearms legally.
Why could such an apparently emotionally unstable dangerous individual have licenses to own firearms? To know the answer to this, we have to look at Dutch gun clubs in historical perspective.
November 1918. In Russia there is revolution. In Germany, the emperor flees to the Netherlands. Other monarchs fall.
Pieter Jelles Troelstra, the Dutch Social Democrat leader, and David Wijnkoop, leader of what would become the Dutch Communist Party, then proclaimed revolution. To counter this, counter revolutionary paramilitary forces, the “Burgerwacht” were founded. To recruit for these forces, emphasis was on love for the monarchy (even among non socialists, love for the royal family was mostly stronger than for the capitalist economic order). One of the commanders of those Burgerwacht forces was Baron van Ittersum, a relative of royal lady in waiting, Baroness Elise van Ittersum.
Later, in January 1923, the first Dutch fascist party was founded by admirers of Mussolini: the Verbond van Actualisten, VVA. When, in July 1925, this party participated in the Dutch general election, its leading parliamentary candidate was Baron van Ittersum, a contact of other fascists who had been in the Burgerwacht under him.
Other Burgerwacht people would also turn up later in Dutch fascist organizations. Eg, Hugues Alexandre Sinclair de Rochemont, a co-founder of the VVA, had served under Van Ittersum. He would die as a member of Adolf Hitler’s SS occupation forces in the Soviet Union.
After the attempts at Left revolution of 1918 had failed, the Dutch government made it illegal for people with “revolutionary views” to become members of gun clubs. This meant exclusion of social democrats, communists, anarchists, etc. That law is still valid today.
On the other hand, the law on gun clubs said nothing about banning violent counter-revolutionary people. So, supporters of Mussolini, Hitler, and later dictatorships like the Greek colonels or Pinochet in Chile were and are welcome as rifle club members.
In the nineteen eighties and nineties, there was the neo-fascist “Centrumdemocraten” party in the Netherlands. They had their own gun club.
UPDATE: Van der Vlis voted for the PVV, Geert Wilders’ xenophobic party.
- TIME: April 9th 2011. LOCATION: Alphen aan de Rijn, (evandiemen.wordpress.com)
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