For a Scandinavian it’s difficult to understand the attitude that many Americans have towards guns and gun control, but if I lived in Colombia, the Middle East, or maybe even in the US where pretty much any non-convicted adult can spontaneously buy one or more guns without much trouble – resulting in loads of guns in circulation also in the hands of criminals – then I too might feel the need to get a gun to protect myself. But I live in Sweden and I’m only SO happy that we don’t have the same situation in my own country. I would consequently be against any kind of change towards more liberal gun laws where I live because I prefer to keep criminals away from guns. I wish Americans would understand why Europeans would dread to have American gun laws introduced to their countries. We have considerable lower homicide rates, which makes sense since it’s so much easier for a murderer to kill people if he can use firearms instead of knives, bombs (takes time, patience, skills and money to make) or his fists. I can also understand the frustration Americans have if they feel that their politicians play under different rules.
It’s truly wonderful to know that you can go out running alone late at night without feeling you should be carrying a gun or a knife in your hand – so every change in our current gun laws would be for the WORSE.
Over here it’s hard to get hold of a gun or own a gun unless you can pass certain requirements, so I don’t feel the need to buy a gun myself for protection and I have personally never encountered a single person in my life in this country who has expressed such a need. That is surely a good thing and something we should try to maintain? There are lots of weapons over here though, and that’s because there are lots of hunters and many of them own more than one weapon (rifle). It’s of course tricky to change the laws in the US now when the harm (lots of uncontrolled guns in circulation) is already done, and it would equally be a nightmare to make the gun laws more liberal in Sweden now when we seldom need to fear guns in the wrong hands.
It’s interesting to read the arguments against gun control. I include some below:
– If one or more law-abiding citizens in the Cinema at Aurora, Colorado would have carried a gun for protection, then the damage that James Holmes did would have been reduced
So that is the goal for the nation? To reach a level where there are so many uncontrolled guns in circulation (not to mention that a person can store up 25 shotguns in his home without a single gun seller saying “What?”) that normal law-abiding people would feel the need to go protected even at the movies, while eating in a restaurant, on the beach, when taking your dog for a walk, etc? If there is a gun control, this could prevent criminals from obtaining guns in the first place, resulting in that we don’t need to carry guns for protection while living our every day lives.
– Criminals would get hold of guns anyway, like on the black market. They don’t stop using guns just because certain laws tell them to stop or for reading a sign that says “Guns prohibited”. They are criminals for Pete’s sake!
This might be the case in America where loads of guns are already in circulation without much control, why there consequently is a large black market for weapons, but this is not the case in countries like Sweden. How could criminals “get hold of guns anyway” if the laws prevent them from buying one, and when they can’t even acquire any from friends who also can’t get hold of guns? Don’t get me wrong because there ARE guns in the wrong hands also in Sweden but the point is that the cases where guns are used for homicide is relatively low here, and especially compared with the US. I believe this is thanks to our gun control that we have had for generations.
But couldn’t persistent criminals get weapons if they really wanted through other means? Only if they have the right contacts and a great deal of good luck – both are hard to achieve. If they desperately want to cause a lot of damage and lack guns, they might want to use bombs but then they are obligated to have the know-how and to get the ingredients. They must also have the time to make experiments and willing to spend some time in jail if they get caught. This alone will prevent some people from taking such risks, but of course not all. One option is to smuggle in weapons from neighboring countries, but the problem is that it’s just as tough to get hold of guns over there, and there is a risk to get caught.
– Banning guns might create a potential risk for organized crimes, black markets and smuggling
So we should therefore make drug use and prostitution legal? No, we should make it hard for criminals to attain their goals, and if they transgress laws, they do this illegally and they risk charges. Some people think again for this reason. One way to smuggle guns into Sweden would be to transport them over the bridge between Denmark and Sweden, but how would you get hold of guns in Denmark in the first place? They have similar gun laws as in Sweden. We can only pray that no country in Europe will ever apply similar gun laws as in the US, resulting in more illegal weapons crossing our boarders (and if that happens, one could only hope for an extensive border control).
– Woman may have no means of self-defense from rape or other crimes
Women have also died from domestic violence where guns have been in use. Again, if criminals have a hard time obtaining weapons, then it will automatically be harder for them to commit such crimes and women have less need to defend themselves.
– Guns in the possession of citizens are an added protection against government tyranny. Just look at Germany in WWII!
Citizens in Sweden would of course NOTICE and KNOW if the gun control laws would suddenly be amended to their disadvantage and to the advantage of politicians in rule. (Besides, this risk would be higher if the citizens would be voting for a person instead of a party – that normally must cooperate with yet other parties in order to get a majority rule.) Laws are not changed overnight and not without first publicly announcing them. Everything that concerns hunting, firearms, gun laws, etc is covered in the big hunting magazines, and they will naturally announce all changes which concern the world of hunting and firearms usage.
– The homicide rate is high in the US because it’s a melting post for so many different races and cultures, and not due to a liberal gun control
That is not a good argument unless you believe a certain race is more prone to commit crimes than others. If individuals and their ancestors have lived in the US for generations, then the race issue is no longer valid since they have been assimilated. What might be a factor however is RECENT IMMIGRATION (like the first and second generation of immigrants). You will find a lot of that in Europe where loads of people from a certain country immigrate to a certain country, often placed in the same city or suburb. Statistics sadly show that immigrants from the Middle East and the northern part of Africa commit crime more frequently than the rest of the population. In the last few years Sweden has received a lot of immigrants from Iraq.
– All violent crimes are not reported so the high rate in the US might also depend on this
Yes all crimes are not reported but one crime that is reported to a great deal in all countries is murder, and that’s what makes the statistics for homicide rather interesting. Countries that neglect to report such crimes would be countries that have a high homicide rate to start with. Statistics for homicide with guns would of course be the most interesting ones, but you will more often find statistics and charts where the homicide rate is not divided any further.
You can also kill people with knives, bats, etc. Should we try to ban and control those weapons as well?
It would be hard to control such objects, wouldn’t it? So totally unlike firearms which CAN be restricted and which potentially could kill more people at the same time than a knife ever could. Yes, knives, bats and bombs could also be used to kill people but this is not a factor that applies only for the US. This is a truth for all countries so the statistics are still fair. The homicide rate per country can give us a clue whether a liberal gun control has saved lives or not.
– Guns don’t kill people. People kill people!
Then it’s a good idea to prevent such people from obtaining guns! In that way YOU don’t feel the need to be protected.
– It’s my right as a citizen to own guns for me and my family’s protection. Why does the government prevent me from doing this?
It’s a government’s responsibility to make sure the citizens of a country can live in peace, and if possible (as it is in Sweden) without having to carry guns for protection. If we reach a state where we start to feel insecure due to the awareness that guns can be bought rather freely and therefore abound in the wrong hands all around us, then the government has failed with its mission.
– Anders Breivik in Norway managed to kill LOADS of people even though he was a member in a proper gun club
Yes, and I’ve never said the system is airtight. Most people kill someone they know, and those who are willing to kill strangers for no reason are oftentimes those who kill because of an ideology/evil religion or because they are totally disturbed and simply enjoy killing. Terrorists come to mind, and we also have odd fellows like Anders Breivik. He was a smart guy, he was not poor, not on drugs and he was not in a hurry. Those are not the typical factors in a murderer’s life. He had a license for three weapons; a Glock to be used in the gun club where he was a member, a semiautomatic Ruger rifle to be used in hunting and also a shotgun. The Norwegian police PST got a tip that Breivik bought aluminium powder and sodium nitrate from Poland (to build a bomb) but unfortunately they didn’t make a follow-up on the tip because Breivik had previously not been convicted for any crimes. The idea was good though (seeking control of suspected substances) and this procedure could prevent future crime. Breivik ended up killing 77 people the year 2011. 8 of them through a bomb explosion in Oslo, and the rest (mostly young teenagers) on a little island outside Oslo. This tragic event will pull down the homicide rate for Norway tremendously. It’s impossible to always be protected against lunatics like Breivik. You would have to carry a gun around the clock and you wouldn’t be safe even then.
– Why is it so bad to be able to buy lots of guns? It is also sad that so many people are obese because of these sheer amount of forks and spoons available to them
This argument totally baffled me when I read it. So if we can’t prevent people from getting forks and spoons, then neither should we try to prevent people from getting guns? Is it possible to ban or control forks and spoons? NO, right? Is it possible to restrict guns through gun control laws and make it difficult for criminals to get hold of guns? YES! So why not doing exactly that? Isn’t the idea to save lives? Can a spoon in the hands of someone kill 10 people in 2 minutes? Can a gun in the hands of someone kill 10 people in 2 minutes? If we know that dangerous people could use guns for dangerous things, isn’t it a good idea to try to prevent such people from obtaining guns since we CAN?
– When the guns are removed from the law-abiding citizen, only criminals will have guns
Not if they are not able to get hold of guns due to severe restrictions and requirements.
– Guns aren’t evil or the cause of violent situations. Like a hammer drives the nails, guns are the tools of these crazies
Some countries have gun control laws in order to prevent such “tools” ending up in the hands of criminals. It seems like it’s working based on the statistics.
– Disarming innocent people does not protect innocent people
Over here they don’t disarm people, because they can buy guns for hunting and target shooting if they pass the requirements. The requirements are tough and that will prevent many criminals from getting guns. So the idea is to disarm CRIMINALS and prevent them from getting guns. This will lead to a safe environment for INNOCENT people. Hard to see why this is not a good thing in all people’s lives. This of course works best in countries which have had a history of strict gun control laws for quite some time, so that weapons already in circulation will not be in use in the wrong hands.
– You can prove anything with statistics
Maybe, and I’ve read all kinds of silly statistics for pro-gun lobbyists, usually comparing one American state with another American state, as though this could apply to the whole world. But if statistics are fair, they could also reveal the truth and especially if several sources get similar results. The rule shouldn’t be “if statistics work against you, then you don’t need to rely on them because you can prove anything with statistics”. The question is if we can find any statistics for that a liberal gun control reduces the homicide rate compared to other countries, and/or if statistics show that a strict gun control law (as the one in Sweden) reduces the homicide rate compared to other countries. When we look at various statistics and charts, for instance this or this or this or this (the latter is from 2012 and is more specific concerning firearms) then the US is always listed with a very high homicide rate per capita, and European countries much further down. It’s interesting to see that Canada, which is so close in culture and a neighbor country to the US, has a low homicide rate.
– In Switzerland it’s very common to own guns also for protection and they have a low homicide rate, so this shows gun ownership is not related to murder
There are some differences between the US and Switzerland. 1) Switzerland has MUCH STRICTER GUN CONTROL LAWS. All military weapons (which are long-barreled) must be kept locked up, with their ammunition sealed, stored in a separate place, and strictly accounted for. Hence it is almost impossible to use these weapons for crime without detection. 2) Switzerland (one of the richest countries in the world) has none of the social problems associated with gun crime seen in other industrialized countries, like drugs or urban deprivation. The US is of course also one of the richest countries in the world BUT there are still many areas which are considered poor and where drugs are in much use. 3) In comparison Switzerland is a small country both in square meters and in population, and therefore easier to control. All the neighboring countries have the same strict gun control as is common in western Europe, so there is no great danger of guns smuggled across the boarders. More info:
Up until October 2007, a specified personal retention quantity of government-issued personal ammunition was issued, which was sealed and inspected regularly to ensure that no unauthorized use had taken place. In October 2007, the Swiss Federal Council decided that the distribution of ammunition to soldiers shall stop and that all previously issued ammo shall be returned. By March 2011, more than 99% of the ammo has been received. Only special rapid deployment units and the military police still have ammunition stored at home today.
Gun ownership in Switzerland is not universal; only 32 percent of the general population own guns. By comparison, this figure is 49 percent in the U.S. Handguns are also HIGHLY REGULATED. Even then Switzerland has both the highest handgun ownership and highest handgun murder rate in EUROPE. The suicide rate in Switzerland is very high. You can buy ammunition at ranges, but there is a regulatory requirement that ammunition sold at ranges must be used there. More here .
Brief comments about the Swedish gun laws (similar in all Scandinavia)
The two reasons for owning guns in Sweden are due to hunting and for target shooting. If citizens one day would want guns for protection then I feel that the government has failed with its mission to produce a safe environment for us to live in. Today we don’t have to live with such fear (unless we have placed ourselves in risk groups, such as being criminals ourselves or by marrying criminals) and a good guess is that it’s due to the strict gun control laws. Many criminals might want to kill a person NOW, and they don’t have patience enough to be a member of a gun club for 6 months before they do it. This alone will prevent some people to kill others in a sudden rage when they are involved in a deep argument.
Over here you’re obligated to have control over your guns at all times (when not in use locked up in certain cabinets, weighing at least 150 kilos) and not lend them to anyone unless a certain license is made for the other person who is also obligated to pass strict gun requirements. There are basically two gun categories, for hunting and for sports (target shooting). All weapons are licensed with a few exceptions and the serial number of the weapon is written on the license.
Hunting; rifles and shotguns – One has to pass the hunter exam that includes a theoretical test concerning animals and hunting, and a practical safety test including judging distances and a shooting. You would need some sort of written declaration from others that you are a law-abiding person, and you can apply for up to 4 licenses for long guns (rifles or shotguns).
Target weapons – You need to be an active member of a gun club that competes with the weapon you want to buy. For handguns you need to be a member of a gun club for at least 6 months and shoot three “gold series” and a “fast series”. Your club can then certify that you may own a gun for competition only. After 5 years one has to reapply. Owning guns for protection is not allowed and such exceptions are therefore extremely unusual. More info here
Yes, extra protection in form of guns might be needed in certain countries
Again, if I lived in an area or country where there was a high risk for violent crimes and/or robberies, then I too might choose to get a gun. There are many white farm owners in South Africa who feel the need to protect themselves with guns (or they might choose to leave the country) due to the high risk of being attacked. Just the mere fact that criminals KNOW those farmers are protected might prevent them (the criminals) from making any attempts to harm them. So yes, guns might not be a bad idea in such situations. Read more about such cases in South Africa here.
In Scandinavia however it would be a VERY BAD IDEA to make the gun laws more liberal, because that would change our countries from having a SMALL amount of guns in the wrong hands into countries with LOTS of guns in the wrong hands, causing more criminals to make offenses and more people to buy guns to protect themselves, which would lead to even more crimes. An evil circle. Since the homicide rate is low in Sweden it wouldn’t make any sense at all to gamble with the situation and start amending the gun laws. If we do, then an evaluation will likely show an increase of violent gun crimes but then it will be too late to revoke the damage. Instead we would have lots of guns in the hands of criminals and there is a long expiration date for guns. They can be used again and again, and found on the black market, and if we then try to save the situation by making yet another law that guns must be turned in, then criminals will not stand first in line to return them.
In summary, I understand the situation that America is in, but I hope Americans will not reason “Gun control doesn’t seem to work here, and people now have the need to protect themselves, so this means strict gun control won’t work in any country”. I hope they don’t believe that liberal gun laws in our countries would be for the benefit of the citizens or reduce the homicide rate because that is NOT true and the statistics seem to confirm it. If there are countries which have had strict gun laws and therefore a low amount of guns among criminals, resulting in no need for citizens to protect themselves, then it’s good to keep it that way. America might not have gun laws that I admire, but I admire and envy the country in so many other ways.
God bless you and Merry Christmas to you and yours Annika! You are right, I just wanted to give the “American” story. European nations are on a different playing field for certain. I know that not many Europeans are completely understanding of our reason and rational behind our strong gun stance. You have enough contact with us Yanks, and you understand more than most! That is all, nothing more and nothing less.
Love in Christ,
Just so you know, that was just to go a little deeper into some of the things you brought out in your comments. God bless!
I love you in Christ and I am happy that you are blessed. In this country we are a republic, not a democracy as you have in Europe. We are joined to a country to our south that has large drug cartels that have many firearms that are considered to be military grade. There are people in the southern states that are up against the wall, I lived in Tucson, Arizona until March and just a little south of us was it was a war zone. There wasn’t enough police to do the job and people have to protect themselves. That being said, the foundation of our republic is set upon our constitution. The entire reason America is the country it is, is based on this constitution. Unfortunately, there have been laws enacted that take us away from that constitution. Our country became a nation because the people where being unfairly treated by the crown of Britain, as well as the ones supposed to represent them in parliament. Because of that, they took up arms to take the power away from the tyrannical government, to form their own nation. The framers of our constitution and our country said the following in reference to the citizenry of the United States to be able to keep and bear arms:
“Resistance to sudden violence for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs, and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature which I never surrendered to the public by the compact of society and which, perhaps, I could not surrender if I would.. The maxims of law and the precepts of Christianity are precisely coincident in relation to this subject.” (John Adams, US President, signer of the Declaration, one of the two signers of the Bill of Rights. From “On Privet Revenge,” Boston Gazette, September 5, 1763)
“Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: first; a right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly, to property- together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can.” (Samuel Adams, signer of the Declaration, “Father of the American Revolution.” From “The Rights of The Colonists, A list of Violations Of Rights and A Letter Of Correspondence, Adopted by the Town of Boston, November 20, 1772.”)
“The great object is that every man be armed… Every one who is able may have a gun. But have we not learned by experience that, necessary as it is to have arms,… it is still far from being the case.” (Patrick Henry, Governor, Patriot Leader. From Debates and Other Proceedings of the Convention of Virginia, and from The Debates in the Several State Conventions, on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia in 1787.)
“And what country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.” (Thomas Jefferson, US President, signer of the Declaration. From Jefferson, Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, Vol.II, p.268, to Col. Smith on November 13, 1787)
” I consider and fear the natural propensity of rulers to oppress the people. I wish only to prevent them from doing evil.. Divine providence has given to every individual the means of self – defense.” (George Mason from Debates… of the Convention of Virginia, p. 271, George Mason on June 14, 1788.)
“The said Constitution (should) be never construed… to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.” (Samual Adams, Signer of the Declaration, “Father of the American Revolution”)(God Bless David Barton for this, and all, of his work. Ed)
“The right .. of bearing arms… is declared to be inherent in the people.” (Fisher Ames, A Framer of the Second Amendment in the First Congress)
“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.” (Patrick Henry, Governor, Patriot Leader)
“Mankind must be prepared and fitted for the reception, enjoyment, and preservation of universal permanent peace before they will be blessed with it. Are they as yet fitted for it? Certainly not. Even if it was practicable, would it be wise to disarm the good before “the wicked cease form troubling?”(Job 3:17) (John Jay, Origional Chief Justice, US Supreme Court)
“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”(Richard Henry Lee, Signer of the Declaration, A Framer of the Second Amendment in the First Congress)
“Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great -Britain, the British parliament was advised.. to disarm the people. That it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them. But that they should not do it openly; but to weaken them and let them sink gradually.” (George Mason, Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, “Father of the Bill of Rights”)
“The advantage of being armed (is an advantage which) the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation… In the several kingdoms of Europe… The governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” (James Madison, Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, “Father of the Bill of Rights”)
“Arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside… The history of every age and nation establishes these truths, and facts need but little arguments when they prove themselves.” (Thomas Paine, Patriot, Author)
“A people who mean to continue free must be prepared to meet danger in person, not to rely upon the fallacious protection of … armies.”(Edmund Randolph, Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Secretary of State under President George Washington )
“It (is) a chimerical idea to suppose that a country like this could ever be enslaved. How is an army for that purpose to … subdue a nation of freemen who know how to prize liberty and have arms in their hands?” (Theodore Sedwick, Revolutionary soldier, a Framer of the Second Amendment in the First Congress)
“A free people ought… to be armed.” (George Washington, US President, signer of the Constitution)
“No man should scruple or hesitate a moment to use arms in defense.” (George Washington, US President, Signer of the Constitution)
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed- as they are in almost every kingdom, in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword because the whole body of the people are armed. (Noah Webster, Revolutionary Soldier, Legislator, Responsible for article I, section 8 of the Constitution)
Therefore, the 2nd amendment of our constitution is there to protect this citizenry from:
1. The government, should it become tyrannical and infringe on our God given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (original was property, changed to happiness in order to later deal with slavery).
2`. To protect ourselves from criminals who would infringe on our God given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (see above).
3. To defend the constitution from any enemy, foreign or domestic that would attempt to take those rights away.
Because of this right, that is guaranteed to any United States citizen, we should have the ability to have any gun that the government has access to, in order to defend ourselves from that government, should the need arise. We should also have access to the same guns that criminals have access to, in order to defend ourselves from those criminals, should the need arise. Does that mean that I am saying a citizen should have access to a fully automatic machine gun? We are not allowed by our government to own those, but YES I do. They have it, and it is my right to have it as long as I am properly trained and have the money to obtain one.
You see, we have millions of people coming into our country ILLEGALLY every year, from the south in Mexico and from the oceans on either side. We put up fences, they dig under them or climb over them. We have millions of guns in circulation from LEGAL means, but we also have millions that have come across our borders through ILLEGAL ways. I don’t know if you have those problems in Sweden, but we do have them here and that goes beyond the rights granted to us by our constitution.
These laws are American laws. I have several guns, depending on what I am using them for. Unless I buy my gun from another lawful gun owner, I MUST go through a background check. I am a pastor, I have never had any problems with the law of man (law of God excluded from that statement) that I have been convicted of, I had nothing to cause worry yet when I bought my handgun, I waited for three days to pass the background check to get the gun. We do have laws in place, contrary to popular belief, and no one can go up to a store and just buy any gun they want as long as they have identification. Criminals have guns and obtained them IILLEGALLY. Law abiding citizens are the only ones that are impacted by the laws, because criminals by the very nature of who they are, do not follow the law.
Hey there, Anthony!
Thanks for your comments which could be interesting information for the readers. I believe most Swedes are well aware of the problem with illegal immigrants that you have over there, and particularly in the states bordering to Mexico. We don’t have that kind of problem over here but we still have a similar problem since we have loads of immigrants from various places and particularly from the Middle East (muslims) an Somalia and other places in Africa. Unfortunately people from these countries are generally causing the most amount of crimes/murders and strangely enough they are also involved in most traffic accidents both as drivers and pedestrians. We have cities where there are entire suburbs with people from Iraq, Syria, etc. Sometimes we hear about murders within such families from other cultures, like a father who kills his daughter who he feels lives a life in disgrace and therefore insults her family and “deserves” to be killed.
Anyway, I didn’t write my blog article to complain about Americans living in America. As I said in my article, had I lived in another country with other factors, then maybe I would feel the need to own a gun as well. My aim was mainly to make American readers understand WHY Europeans are SO GLAD to not live under American gun laws where you might feel the need to protect yourself. I live in Sweden and I’m 100% against liberal gun laws for good reasons. It would be stupid of me to have another view. As I said in my article, 1) we have a low homicide rate and we tie this to our strict gun laws, 2) we never feel a need for owning guns for protection, 3) the politicians abide by the very same rules as we do, 4) there is only a small black market for guns so criminals would NOT easily access guns anyway, etc. Just try to place yourself in our shoes. Any change in the gun laws would be for the worse. If we would apply more liberal gun laws and allow guns also for protection, then the FIRST who would buy guns would be the criminals! THEN we would soon be having similar problems as in the US and soon I would no longer be able to go out running late at night as I use to. I believe it would be a snowball effect and our previous safe environment would change for the worse.
I hope you understand the sentiments in my article. I don’t think the misunderstanding is so based on that Europeans don’t understand the premises that Americans live under (or maybe I’m wrong), but I rather believe that Americans might not understand under which premises Europeans live under and perhaps it’s easy to judge the gun laws in the entire world based on the situation in America. But we do indeed live in different countries.
God bless you much, and merry christmas!