Gun control advocates love to compare United States’s stats to other countries. Well of course they do. Firearms-related fatalities are relatively rare in the U.S. Remove suicides and gang-related incidents from the total and “gun violence” is a bit of a non-issue. Yes, I know; it’s a big deal for the friends and families affected. Anyway, the antis need a BIG problem to move the needle on civilian disarmament. Comparing the U.S. to other “industrialized” countries makes us look like the proverbial Wild West, which allows liberals to indulge their national self-hatred and argue that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE. Normally, “gun free” U.K. is the preferred comparo partner. Over at journalgazette.net, Marc Champion breaks the mold by turning his attention to a police killing in Iceland. Check this out . . .
Icelandic police shot dead a man who refused to stop firing at them with a shotgun in the capital of Reykjavik on Monday – and then they apologized. It was the first time that anyone in the country was killed by police gunfire.
“The police regret this incident and wishes to extend its condolences to the man’s family,” said national police chief Haraldur Johannessen.
Details of the event have yet to emerge, but this much is clear: Iceland is a weird place. The population of the island is 325,000, while the number of registered firearms is 90,000, which when you consider that Iceland also has children, suggests that more than a third of the population is armed. So why don’t Iceland’s police have to shoot people?
I’m thinking it’s because Icelandic cops don’t face an imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm. Champion has other ideas.
One factor may be that only SWAT teams of the kind called in for Monday’s shooting are allowed to carry guns; the rest of the police don’t. So the average officer – let alone a neighborhood watch character such as Florida’s George Zimmerman – can’t shoot anyone because they aren’t armed.
And one reason they don’t need to be armed is that the homicide rate in Iceland is so low – on average, fewer than 0.3 per 100,000 of population, compared with 5 per 100,000 in the U.S. In 2009, according to the Global Study on Homicide, just one person was murdered in Iceland.
Hey! I was right! Unfortunately, Mr. Champion is a Bloomberg View editorial board member; beholden to the civilian disarmament agenda of the soon-to-be-former Mayor of New York City. Champion can’t end his piece without at least mentioning the social benefits of gun control.
In an article for the BBC, law student Andrew Clark . . . concluded that the biggest reason for Iceland’s low violent-crime rate was social equality. Rich and poor go to the same schools, while 1.1 percent say they are upper class, 1.5 percent lower class – and the rest in between. So there’s less resentment and anger.
Also, although there are a lot of guns in Iceland (Icelanders like to hunt), buying one requires stringent checks, including a medical exam and a written test. That may prevent people from buying and using guns in a fit of anger. It might also explain why very few of Iceland’s very few homicides involve guns.
There are other possible factors, of course. For example, Icelanders have very low rates of drug abuse. It isn’t clear why, but as soon as there was a sniff of a problem in 1973, the government established special police units and courts to tackle it. I’m guessing they had very little else to do.
Har-har. But seriously folks, this is an apples-to-bilberries comparison that has no possible relevance to gun ownership in the United States of America, especially if you consider Iceland’s not-so-diverse ethnic diversity. Wikipedia tells us that “Polish people make up the largest minority group by a considerable margin . . . about 8,000 Poles now live in Iceland.” Not exactly a hotbed of racial tension, then.
Anyone who believes that gun control is an important—never mind the important—variable when discussing guns in America and guns in Iceland (or the U.K. or Japan) is engaging in some seriously wishful thinking.
So can the antis please stop comparing American gun ownership and firearms-related homicides to the sitch in foreign countries? Or if they do can they please mention the lack of liberty and crime that experienced by average people living in countries with really strict gun control like China or Mexico? Much obliged.