The mean (and cold) streets of Iceland's capital city (courtesy wikimedia.org)

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.

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98 Responses to What Iceland Can Teach Us About American “Gun Violence”: Nothing

  1. Hey, at least you’ve gotta hand it to the Icelanders, for throwing out the banksters who nearly ruined their economy, and now for forgiving a good part of their homeowners’ mortgages!

      • Your nuts. They let their bankers play Ponzi schemes with other peoples money and lost it all. When the other people tried to get some of their money back the Icelandic people told them to go suck it. In essence the Icelandic people stole billions. Bunch of damned crooks.

    • They also have approved lists of male names and female names from which new parents can choose.

      Kind of like North Korea has a list of “State Approved Haircuts” from which the subjects may choose.

      No thank you.

        • As to the topic of our national debt…

          I wholeheartedly agree, it’s a problem. Our government seems to struggle with the concept of “living within your means.”

          That being said, I don’t control what they do. Dear Leader racked up something like seven TRILLION in debt in four years.

          Personally, I’d like to see a law passed that levies swift, harsh punishment against the members of our Congress if they fail to pass and adhere to a balanced budget.

          But like I said. Not up to me. But nonetheless, I’d take financial debt and personal freedom in a heartbeat over the opposite.

        • It was national news several months back. There’s a teenager whose name was not approved as a female name, so officially, the government referred to her simply as “girl,” and a huge legal battle ensued in order for her to be known by her real name. Feel free to look it up.

          As for the NoKo haircut rules, it was mentioned in a NatGeo documentary on life inside North Korea. Hard to link to that, but feel free to watch it if you’re really feeling ambitious.

        • So they didn’t name him “Ragnar”? I still think you’re full of shit, since you’ve refused a challenge for a citation. Put up or shut up.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_name

          The relevant bit, in case you don’t want to click through:

          First names not previously used in Iceland must be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee (Icelandic: Mannanafnanefnd) before being used.[3] The criterion for acceptance of names is whether or not they can be easily incorporated into the Icelandic language. They must contain only letters found in the Icelandic alphabet (with some exceptions, such as Cýrus), where the most unusual are þ and ð, and they must be able to be declined according to the language’s grammatical case system, which in practice means that they must be able to take a genitive form in accordance with Icelandic rules. Gender-inappropriate names are normally not allowed; however, in January 2013, a 15-year-old girl named Blær (a masculine noun in Icelandic) was allowed to keep this name in a court decision that overruled an initial rejection by the naming committee.[4]

          It’s not so much a “list of names” as it is a “list of standards.”

        • @Matt –

          Thank you for doing the research and pointing out the fault in my thinking.

          @ shawn l and William Burke –

          “Gender-inappropriate names are normally not allowed; however, in January 2013, a 15-year-old girl named Blær (a masculine noun in Icelandic) was allowed to keep this name in a court decision that overruled an initial rejection by the naming committee.[4]”

          Good day.

  2. How hilarious.

    Let us review the comic lunacy of this article.

    For one, the apology should be from the family of the killer, if anyone.

    Second-I despise this psycholigcal blight where people who really should know better think that crime can only be comitted with a gun. A Molotov cocktail can be made in any country one sees fit to visit-excepting the prudish Islamic ones- with no permit or background check required.

    • Naw… In Islamic country you go with the original recipe and use gas instead of vodka. Besides, who would use perfectly good vodka for a weapon? Barbarity.

  3. Please explain how, after a person undergoes the medical exam and written test and takes ownership of a gun in Iceland, those “stringent checks” then prevent the gun owner from experiencing a violent fit of anger later on.

    Oh, never mind. There is no way to explain it because that assertion by the writer doesn’t make sense. I forgot that I’m supposed to disengage my brain when I’m reading news articles.

    • They didn’t just “claim” bankruptcy; they WERE bankrupt! The IMF and World Bank, both enforcement arms of the world bankster cartel, like to bleed the small economies to death first… Iceland, Greece, with Spain and Italy on deck… not to mention Malta and Ireland.

  4. The statistics are irrelevant because Iceland is a homogeneous society and does not have the skew that cesspool urbanite enclaves like Chicago, New Orleans, New York, and Washington DC add to the mix.

    Really, if you removed all of the high-crime major cities from the US statistics, there would be nearly zero violent crime in the US.

    Please explain to me why we shouldn’t just make all of the current major US cities their own countries and let them do their own thing. They all either want their own contradictory sets of rules and laws, or they want to take their contradictory rules and laws and apply them to the rest of the US instead. Let them have what they want already – complete self-rule.

    • They pretty much have it; hence the cesspools.
      Also consider that almost every major urban
      area has had single party rule for 60 years plus.
      The election game is so fixed that one could
      make a serious case for them already being in
      a totalitarian state.

  5. They have extremely low crime there. The population density is very low as well. When I lived there in the 1970’s the word was that if you were put in prison in Iceland, your family was responsible for feeding you everyday. I don’t know how true that is, but that’s what they taught us in school.

    It’s a cool place, I recommend a visit to anyone who likes a rough terrain mostly unspoiled by development.

      • I agree. I think this is the practice in some areas of the Caribbean, also. You really screw up too many times, your family should have to feed you. If you go to prison in a remote state, your family should have to move there, in order to feed your ass.

  6. There’s that “in a fit of anger” thing again. Cause angrily buying guns for spur-of-the-moment killings is what so many of us do — you know, being the unstable, rustic simpletons we are. (I live in a small town and only have an MA degree, for instance; if I lived in New York City and wrote editorials for snooty magazines, just think what a better person I’d be.)

  7. Sooo… Mr. Champion compared to societies that are completely different in almost every way, other than being populated by bipedal humanoids, and he discovered… that they’re different?

    THIS IS MY SURPRISED FACE.

  8. It might be due to the homogeneous culture. They don’t allow us military to marry local girls, who are beyond hot.

  9. The antis can’t help themselves… they’re like a horde of furious elves throwing reindeer shit at a Teflon-coated wall, desperately hoping that something will stick.

  10. So Iceland has almost no violent crime in spite of the fact that 1/3 (as the author submits) of the citizens are armed.
    Hm.

  11. Funny, after reading that article I came away with: minorities and the poor, especialy in high densities, are responsible for violence, not gun ownership.

    Thanks Marc, I appreciate you confirming what I already believed.

  12. Definitely a false comparison, but there are lots of factors to consider. For example, it’s a cultural thing for Icelandic people to want to shoot (which they enjoy) but not really fear their neighbors. There’s never really been a kind of Wild West vulnerability in Iceland (I have a close friend who was a missionary there a few years ago). Which means that even in the largest cities, it’s not uncommon to leave doors unlocked and to know virtually everyone who lives within a few blocks of your home. It’s a very friendly, trusting place. That’s also reflected in the major places where Icelandic people settled in the U.S., most notably Spanish Fork, Utah–you’ll find the overwhelming majority of folks are very friendly and have a love for firearms, but who don’t really have a need (yet) to pack heat for protection. When Iceland’s population becomes less than 95 percent Nordic, I expect that violent crime rates will start to change, just as it has been doing in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (see the arguments made in Mark Steyn’s “America Alone.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_Alone) The Islamization of Iceland hasn’t happened, yet.

    • First of all, the “Wild West” is a media myth.

      Secondly, “even in their largest cities”? There is only ONE city, and it would be a really tiny city by ordinary standards.

      • And when it gets cold, it gets COLD. So if you get in trouble and knock on the first door you come across you’d better hope they trust you or you WILL die.

  13. “So can the antis please stop comparing American gun ownership and firearms-related homicides to the sitch in foreign countries?”

    I doubt it. It’s like political tourettes with them.

  14. Also of great significance, the murder rate in the U.S. is higher than most/all European countries even if you remove all murders where the attacker used a firearm for the murder weapon.

    We don’t have a “gun violence” problem in the U.S., we have a violence problem in the U.S.

    • Yep. And if you look at the murder rates over time, Australia and the UK have the basically same murder rate after their draconian gun control as they did before. You don’t change human nature by denying people a single simple tool.

  15. Has this drip ever been to Iceland? I have. It’s a completely homogenous culture where everyone is more interested in getting drunk and having sex (with a hangover relieving dunk in the Blue Lagoon afterwards) than they are knocking over the local Quickie Mart. Almost like it was a different country or something.

    • In summer, getting drunk and having a meal at 4 a.m. As a drunk and an insomniac, I pine for the fjords of Iceland! Okay… wrong county.

  16. African-Americans comprise 13% of the U.S. population, yet commit 53% of the murders and constitute 50% of murder victims. At any given time, 1 of every 3 African-American males is on probation, parole, or IN PRISON. Obviously this has nothing to do with race, this is a cultural problem. It is likely connected to the 70% fatherlessness rate in African-American households. So what causes that? Well a lot of that is connected to the failed 40-year war on (Americans with) drugs. We now lead the world in imprisoning our population, but drugs are even easier to find than they were 40 years ago when Nixon made the speech. Many billions upon billions of dollars have been wasted.

    We should decriminalize drugs and set up our own drug courts to handle drug crimes. Anybody who mindlessly insists this is dangerous because it sends a message that drugs are OK need only look what’s happened to the rate of smoking in the last 20 years. It’s plummeted, and smokers are now social pariahs. All without banning tobacco in any form. If we eliminate the illicit nature of the drug trade, we eliminate the associated violence. African-Americans are Americans, so their problems are our problems. Drug decriminalization needs to happen, and will happen sooner or later. We’ve tried attacking the supply for 40 years, and it’s a failure by any measure. We need to explore attacking the demand side of the equation. Dry up demand, and supply takes care of itself. Remove the risk of drug dealing, drug prices collapse, and you get a draw down on available supply. It’s a market we know something about because we went through this 100 years ago with alcohol.

    • I think that from the standpoint of government growth and the immense increase in for-profit prisons, it can easily be argued that the War on Drugs is a great success. It has continued to expand, and has enjoyed enormous profitability. Seeing as how this was the objective of the War on Drugs in the first place, the success has been overwhelming. Literally.

      It can be observed that the War on Drugs, as a war upon U.S. citizens, has proven to be a screaming success. It has destroyed African American families, and everyone else’s families are in dire peril.

      And I thought the A-A population was 11%, not 13.

      • It’s way more than half. Blacks actually commit about 75% of murders and violent crimes. Hispanics account for about 20%.

        • With so many unsolved and perhaps even a quite a few unreported/unknown murders, and with the fact that humans investigate murders and convict murders (thus leaving the process open to HUMAN error) I don’t think we can say with a great amount of certainty that blacks commit 75% of ALL murders that are committed. However, I suppose we could look at all the murder convictions and look at the reported racial data of all of the individuals who were convicted of those murders and come up with a statistic that tells us that blacks are convicted of 75% of the murders for which someone is convicted. Still, some would attack such a statistic and say that blacks are overrepresented not because they are more murderous that other races, but instead because they are more likely to be suspected and convicted of murders because of prevailing racist stereotypes that portray blacks as being violent, and because racist juries are more likely to convict blacks, even when there is reasonable doubt that would probably set a white defendant free. Meanwhile, Asians are outperforming all races (including whites) in terms of scholastic achievement, college admission, employment and earning, yet no one is accusing Asians of rigging the system and keeping the other races down…By now you may be asking yourself,”What is this guy’s point?” The point I suppose is that regardless of how many statistics you cite (or make up on the spot) it’s still going to be the white man’s fault no matter what happens, so why not go to bed instead of wasting your energy and valuable parts of your life trying to convince the internet that you have a point…it doesn’t work.

    • well said, sir. I simply wish liberals would get as angry at cancer as they do guns. cancer kills more people than guns ever did.

  17. Racist, classist, dogmatic bullshit.

    That’s literally all that ever comes out of any gun control advocate’s mouth, those mealy-mouthed bastards.

  18. Iceland has like the lowest population density in the world. For all we know they’re trying to murder and just can’t find anyone.

    • Iceland’s not as cold as most people assume. The Oceanic Current comes close to the south, but up north, it’s icy tundra. Winter, I’d take it over Alamosa, CO any day. Plus, in the summer, it’s daylight until 3 a.m., at least! Reykjavik’s a party town in summer. Midnight tee times!

        • WHY NOT? Parties, midnight sun, an “after hours” party ends at noon, free geothermal heat in lots of places…. there’s a lot to like.

      • For people who haven’t been in the west, Alamosa’s cold in the winter is the stuff of legend.

        Here in Wyoming, it got down to -25F last night. As I went to bed, worrying about whether I had sufficient anti-freeze in the radiators/blocks of all the engines around here, I comforted myself with the thought:

        “At least we’re not living in Alamosa…”

        • Yeah, I’m not sure why Alamosa’s so cold. Maybe because it sits smack dab in the middle of the San Luis Valley, and cold air rolls down the Sangres and the the San Juans and meets right about there.

          I’m so grateful I didn’t go to Adams State and freeze to death. The students outnumber the town population about 3:1.

          Even Silverton, at almost exactly the same latitude, and over 1300 feet higher elevation, isn’t nearly as cold as Alamosa.

  19. There is a comparison to be had here. And to be fair I’ll use the authors own statistics.

    A full one third of the population is armed, and they have less “gun violence.”

    Almost none of the police are armed, and they have fewer “accidental” police shootings, given that this was the first suspect they’ve ever killed.

    There IS a comparison, it just works out more in favor of the POTG than of MAIG.

  20. What they refuse to acknowledge is that *all* crime in Iceland is low.

    http://www.logreglan.is/default.asp?ca

    They are an outlier in all categories, the guns are unremarkable in that context.

    2005:

    Rapes: 73
    Homicide: 3
    Manslaughter: 1
    Major Assault (Aggravated Assault): 58
    Attempted Homicide: 6
    Distribution/Sale of Narcotics: 114

    • Iceland is useless as a comparison to just about everything that isn’t Iceland. It’s a monoculture. I think the crime rate has actually declined since the 2005 stats you quoted. I believe there’s been only one murder so far this year. If someone wants to bet me there’ll be one between now and the New Year, I’m in, for any amount.

      I also think Icelanders’ ancestors were of smarter, more centered people, as opposed to the rabble and riff-raff that populated America. Sometimes I wish the Indians had won. No, actually, I often wish that.

  21. “Comparing the U.S. to other ‘industrialized’ countries makes us look like the proverbial Wild West.”

    There is an easy, one word response to this argument: Brazil. From Wikipedia:
    “All firearms in Brazil are required to be registered with the state. The minimum age for ownership is 25 and it is generally illegal to carry a gun outside a residence. The total number of firearms in Brazil is thought to be between 14 million and 17 million with 9 million of those being unregistered. Some 39,000 people died in 2003 due to gun-related injuries nationwide. In 2004, the number was 36,000. Although Brazil has 100 million fewer citizens than the United States, and more restrictive gun laws, there are 25 percent more gun deaths; other sources indicate that homicide rates due to guns are approximately four times higher than the rate in the United States.”

  22. Iceland has less people than a small American city-the average income is high and the population is homogeneous-probably all related at some level.I’ve been there-they don’t have an open borders immigration policy like we’ve had since Jimmy Carter was President.I’ve been in Iceland-it’s a nice place to visit,but comparisons with the US are not valid.

    • FEWER people, not less people. Generally, the rule states that if it’s countable, then use “fewer”. I mean, even theoretically countable. There are fewer stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud than in the Milky Way.
      You’d die before you could count them all, but it’s a finite number in both cases.

      Your salary buys LESS than it used to; I’m pretty convinced of that.

  23. Lets ship several million illiterate 3rd world latinos into Iceland, and several million welfare cycle inner city “youths” and see how they hold up.

  24. I lived in Iceland for two years. Nice place, good for raising families. Yes, sporting good stores sell rifles and shotguns. Handguns are restricted to mainly “TARGET” shooting models, basically large barrels and LARGE almost comical looking grips. There are plenty of regular type handguns, both revolvers and pistols in circulation, owned by private citizens and were GRANDFATHERED prior to the implementation of draconian handgun laws around 1995/1996. These handgun owners need permits for each and everyone of the handguns owned. Some of these permit cards are quite extensive and rather thick depending on how many weapons one is permitted to own. Yes, there are extensive and bureaucratic police checks, mental health checks and employment checks if you would like to purchase a long gun or obtain a target pistol. Ammunition is expensive, REALLY expensive, so a lot of the Icelanders who shoot on a regular basis re-load as a regular habit, which is a good lesson for all of us in general.

    Just about every major city and town in Iceland has a shooting club, http://www.sr.is/ Some of these clubs have indoor ranges in the basements of apartment complexes. Icelanders are quite talented and participate in international, mainly European, sport shooting competitions. Icelanders are generally an independent lot and have no standing Army or Navy, but do have a small Coast Guard and were/are coalition partners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The police in Iceland are by and large an unarmed police force and the national SWAT team is called the Viking Squad who are armed. There is some growing violence among recent newcomers, Poles and Lithuanians, who have exhibited a propensity to use firearms, illegally obtained, in the commission of their crimes. Non-firearm related violent crimes involve such things as knives, swords, bats and clubs. In case you were wondering Iceland also has KNIFE CONTROL and you need a permit for certain types of edged weapons.

  25. You know what correlates better to both poverty and criminal behavior? IQ. Take anyone of any ethnic group out of their ethnic group, compare them to all others in that IQ bracket and you find them to be in pretty similar circumstances.

    And that is something that no one can ever discuss in America because the overwhelming representation of poverty and criminal stats of some groups then points to an obvious conclusion.

    According to the finding in The Bell Curve, which is only one of many works on this subject in the 20h century and in the last fifteen years to say the same thing, Iceland’s white population is going to have an average IQ of about 100, along with all of the white areas in Western Europe. Japan’s IQ is going to be even higher at 105. The magic number for criminal behavior seems to be 85, ten below and people are docile, ten above and they go work for a living.

    Three guesses where the average American black and Latino IQ scores fall into.

    And your tax dollars go to the housing, ebt cards, and all other public subsidies that go to subsidize the breeding of exactly the segment of their population that’s causing 80% of the crime. Of course, that segment also votes Democrat, so there might be a clue there about why nothing is being done.

  26. Icelanders are practically all related and have a vastly more favorable citizen:mongrel ratio than does the US.

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