Read more about gun control here !!
Homicide rates for the USA, and for the UK (info for 2011 not available for the UK)
The homicide rate 2011 for the USA was 5,1 (by any method) and 3,6 (by gun) per 100.000 population (10,3 for ALL gun deaths 2011)
The homicide rate 2009 for the USA was 5,48 (by any method) and 2,98 (by gun) per 100.000 population
The homicide rate 2009 for the entire UK was 1,2 (by any method) and 0,22 (by gun) per 100.000 population (0,25 for ALL gun deaths 2010)
The homicide rate 2009 for Scotland was 1,9 (by any method) and 0,04 (by gun) per 100.000 population
I try to not engage too much in American gun laws discussions even though I often see rude comments where some people demonize those with opposing views (those for strict gun control laws) and equate them with ”leftists” (I’m not), but when incorrect claims about gun laws in Europe are in focus I’d like to say something. I’m certainly not a fan of all laws in Europe (and they are vastly different from country to country) and we should be able to handle the subject of gun control without talking about politics in general. Where I live ALL are for gun control (left to right) because we all share the same goal to NOT place guns in the hands of criminals, and the only way is to do this is to prohibit ALL to buy guns for protection. This has led to the pleasant fact that we don’t need guns for protection since there is no threat. If you’re a criminal it’s a different matter, because criminals tend to want to harm each other.
Britain – a country with one of the lowest homicide rates in the world
It happens time and again that people against gun control (usually either Americans or criminals) falsely claim that the violent crime rate in the UK has ”sky rocketed” ever since the country started to apply gun control, but that is an exaggeration and doesn’t change the fact that the homicide rate in the UK is one of the lowest in the world and VERY much lower than the rate in the USA. It’s also common that the same people are not interested in facts that speak against their desired scenario, so they either continue spreading the incorrect statements as though they haven’t heard, or they go elsewhere in their hunt to find support for their idea that low murder rates are not correlated to strict gun control. When being presented to world-wide statistics that show homicide rates listed per country – indicating that the US homicide rate is enormously high compared to other western countries – they usually say ”you can show anything with statistics!” and immediately brush it off. Instead they find youtube clips or Facebook posts with pictures with claims such as ”Australia’s homicide rate sky rocketed ever since the gun control laws, bla bla” and choose to trust these figures thoroughly! Then the song isn’t ”statistics can show anything” any more.
USA compared to other western countries (the most fair way to compare)
Comparing an American state with other American states is of course not an honest way to make a proper analysis, since it’s not impossible to take guns across the boarders or get hold of guns in other ways. Guns used for crimes in NY and other cities can in some cases be traced back to states with more liberal gun laws. In order to appear in a better light when it comes to the comparison with other nations, it’s common that Americans against gun control would like to be compared with countries with even higher homicide rates, and that’s why they must go to infamous countries like Colombia, Venezuela and South Africa to look better. However, a more honest approach is of course to compare with those countries which are closest in culture, wealth, politics, etc. That’s why a comparison with Canada is interesting (but not perfect since it’s possible to take guns across the boarders there too), and other western countries. The below information is from Politifact Virginia, and the text is actually an attempt to HELP the US to appear in a better light! Still, the outcome is devastating for the USA and liberal gun laws.
”The U.S. gun homicide rate is 20 times the combined rate of other western nations”. The number is based on a study of the homicide rates of wealthy nations in 2003, conducted by the UCLA School of Public Health. The report, published in 2010, uses data from the World Health Organization to compare gun-related homicide, gun-related suicide and unintentional and undetermined gun deaths for all ages and both sexes. Vital statistics from the U.S. were compared to those from 22 other high-income countries with populations over 1 million people who reported causes of mortality to WHO for 2003. Researchers relied on The World Bank’s definition of a high income nation. In addition to the U.S., the study included Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (England and Wales), United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) and United Kingdom (Scotland). The rate of homicides with guns in the U.S. was 4.1 per 100,000 people; the same rate combining the 22 other countries was 0.2 per 100,000 in 2003. The rate of homicides using guns in the U.S. was 19.5 times the rate of the other countries.
Below is an attempt by the writers to change these stats to improve the scenario for the US, and they took the most favorable and updated stats for the US but not so with the other countries with stats mostly from 2009. They also chose to compare with NATO countries, and by doing so they would also include countries that are NOT considered wealthy but actually rather poor (such as Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, etc) and by doing so of course the stats will improve. But is it an honest comparison? For instance, in Bulgaria (in the east block of Europe) middle class people can’t afford to have the electricity on all day so it’s not in the same wealth bracket as western countries. Despite the attempt to improve the scenario for the US, the conclusion is still that the homicide rate in the USA TOWERS over other wealthy European nations:
The most recent gun-related homicide rate for the U.S. was 3.0 per 100,000 compared to an 0.3 for the rest of the NATO nations. If you compare the most recent data on the same group of nations, mostly based on 2009 statistics, the U.S. gun homicide rate is 15 times higher than the other countries. The number fell to 10 times as high when we defined the inexact term of ”western nations” as countries belonging to NATO. However, that gun homicide rates in the U.S. tower over those of other wealthy European nations — holds up.
People who are desperate to find statistics that show that gun control doesn’t work search high and low, and lately the crime statistics in Britain have been in focus. Those against gun control certainly can’t use the charts for homicide rates as a basis of their reasoning (since those all speak heavily against them) so they have to look for other columns (not homicide). So they found poor Britain, but is it an honest approach make a fair comparison and judgment?
The UK and the USA actually have very close figures when it comes to ”violent crime” rates, with the number for the UK slightly higher. The difference is of course that the UK has a considerably lower homicide rate than the USA, and the difference is HUGE! When studying statistics for Britain or any country, it’s important to understand what is behind the numbers. An affray is considered a violent crime in the UK, while in some other countries it will only be logged as such if a person is physically injured. While the UK ranks above South Africa for all violent crime, South Africans suffer more than 20,000 murders each year – compared with Britain’s 921 in 2007! Some crime cases are not reported at all in certain countries and not only the ”poor” ones. For example, I saw an American documentary about a murder in Philadelphia where a man had raped several women and ended up also murdering one. The investigators discovered that the first rape was not reported due to the aim to improve the statistics for this particular police department, and it was very unfortunate since the follow-up rapes in the same area would have been easier to pin down to the rapist a lot sooner, and before he ended up murdering someone. It’s impossible to know how many other such cases there are for the USA and for other countries. That’s why the HOMICIDE RATE (rather than crime rates) is the best crime to compare with since this is the crime that countries are most likely to report.
Below is what wikipedia says about the gun situation in the UK and since the data shows that gun control has done the UK a lot of good (having one of the lowest homicide rates in the world is surely good) it’s a risk that pro-gunners will immediately scream that wikipedia is not a trustworthy source. But they think various youtube clips and information in cute Facebook pictures are reliable sources? Wikipedia might not always be correct whenever ”opinions” are involved, but more trustworthy when it comes to boring facts with proper sources listed. That’s why it’s interesting reading. Interestingly Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where owning firearms for protection is allowed, and it’s also the part with the highest homicide rate in the UK.
In the United Kingdom, firearms are tightly controlled by law—The United Kingdom has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world. There were 0.07 recorded intentional homicides committed with a firearm per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010, compared to the 3.0 in the United States (over 40 times higher) and 0.21 in Germany (3 times higher).
Northern Ireland has a very high rate of gun ownership, one of the highest in the world. In contrast England and Wales have considerably lower rates and Scotland has the lowest in the United Kingdom. The gun crime rate rose between 1997 and 2004 but has since slightly receded, while the number of murders from gun crime has largely remained static over the past decade. Northern Ireland: Under the new law, first-time buyers will be required to demonstrate they can be trusted with the firearm. — Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where personal protection is accepted as a legitimate reason to obtain and own a firearm and is the only part of the United Kingdom where handguns and semi-automatic firearms are permitted. Also, carrying a firearm in plain view in a public place is allowed without a permit. However a firearm certificate for a personal protection weapon will only be authorised where the Police Service of Northern Ireland deems there is a ‘verifiable specific risk’ to the life of an individual and that the possession of a firearm is a reasonable, proportionate and necessary measure to protect their life.
A Home Office study published in 2007 reported that gun crime in England and Wales remained a relatively rare event. Firearms (including air guns) were used in 21,521 recorded crimes. It said that injury caused during a firearm offence was rare, with fewer than 3% of offences resulting in a serious or fatal injury.
For 2010/11, police in England and Wales recorded 648 offences as homicide, of which 58 (9%) involved the use of firearms — a rate of 0.1 illegal gun deaths per 100,000 of population. The number of homicides per year committed with firearms in England and Wales remained between 39 and 81 in the nine years to 2010/11, with an average of 58.3 per year. During the same time period, there were three fatal shootings of police officers in England and Wales, and 149 non-fatal shootings, an average of 16.5 per year. The overall homicide rates per 100,000 (regardless of weapon type) reported by the United Nations for 1999 were 4.55 for the U.S. and 1.45 in England and Wales. The homicide rate in England and Wales at the end of the 1990s was below the EU average, but the rates in Northern Ireland and Scotland were above the EU average.
Britain has had few firearms rampage incidents in modern times. During the latter half of the 20th century there were only two incidents in which people holding licensed firearms went on shooting sprees and killed on a large scale
A legislation was introduced in 1997 to prohibit ”Small firearms” with a barrel length of less than 30 cm or an overall length of less than 60 cm. Whilst intentional firearm homicides did in fact eventually decline —homicides involving the class of firearms prohibited initially increased in the early years following the legislative change before commencing a downward trend in 2008. With an alternative view, in 2012 the Home Office reported that, ”in 2010/11, firearms were involved in 11,227 recorded offences in England and Wales, the seventh consecutive annual fall”. Firearms statistics in England and Wales include airguns and imitation guns, which make up a high proportion of these recorded offences.
Fully automatic (submachine-guns, etc.) are totally prohibited from private ownership and self-loading (semi-automatic) weapons, including shotguns and .22 calibre pistols, are totally banned other than in Northern Ireland. Shotgun possession and use is controlled, and even low-power air rifles and pistols, while permitted, are controlled to some extent. A firearms certificate issued by the police is required for all weapons and ammunition except air weapons of modest power (of muzzle energy not over 12 ft·lbf for rifles, and 6 ft·lbf for pistols).
Any person who has been sentenced to three years or more in prison is automatically banned for life from obtaining a firearms licence. Similarly, persons applying for licences with recent, serious mental health issues will also be refused a certificate. Any person holding a Firearm or Shotgun Certificate must comply with strict conditions regarding such things as safe storage. These storage arrangements are checked by the police before a licence is first granted, and on every renewal of the licence. A local police force may impose additional conditions on possession, over and above those set out by law. The penalty for possession of a prohibited firearm (section 5) without a certificate is a maximum of ten years in prison and an unlimited fine.
From the 6 April 2007 the sale and transfer of ”air weapons” by mail order became an offence (they may still be purchased in person), as well as the sale of primers, and realistic imitation firearms (RIFs).
While the number of crimes involving firearms in England and Wales increased from 13,874 in 1998/99 to 24,070 in 2002/03, they remained relatively static at 24,094 in 2003/04, and fell to 21,521 in 2005/06. The latter includes 3,275 crimes involving imitation firearms and 10,437 involving air weapons, compared to 566 and 8,665 respectively in 1998/99. Only those ”firearms” positively identified as being imitations or air weapons (e.g., by being recovered by the police or by being fired) are classed as such, so the actual numbers are likely significantly higher. In 2005/06, 8,978 of the total of 21,521 firearms crimes (42%) were for criminal damage.
Most of the rise in injuries were in the category slight injuries from the non-air weapons. ”Slight” in this context means an injury that was not classified as ”serious” (i.e., did not require detention in hospital, did not involve fractures, concussion, severe general shock, penetration by a bullet or multiple shot wounds). In 2005/06, 87% of such injuries were defined as ”slight,” which includes the use of firearms as a threat only.
In 2008 The Independent reported that there were 42 gun-related deaths in Great Britain, a 20-year low. However, in late 2009 The Telegraph reported that gun crime had doubled in the last 10 years, with an increase in both firearms offences and deaths. A government spokesman said this increase was a result of a change in reporting practices in 2001 and that gun crime had actually fallen since 2005.—A 2006 statistical analysis found no measurable effect detectable from the 1997 firearms legislation.
In the year Apr 2010 to Mar 2011 there were 11,227 recorded offences involving firearms, broken down as follows.
- Long-barrelled shotgun = 406
- Sawn-off shotgun = 202
- Handgun = 3,105
- Rifle = 74
- Imitation firearm = 1,610
- Unidentified firearm = 957
- Other firearm = 670
- Air weapons = 4,203
Only those items proven to be ”imitations” (which includes BB/soft air types) or air weapons are classed as such, otherwise they are placed by default in the main ”live” categories, e.g. an imitation pistol not proven to be such would be counted as a live ”handgun.” ”Other firearm” includes CS gas (223 crimes), pepper spray (118), and stun guns (149).
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
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.