Police Shot A Man Dead In Iceland Yesterday, For The First Time In Memory

Iceland police have guns, but don’t carry them. Picture: Getty Images

An unusual first may have occurred in Iceland yesterday, when police shot dead a 59-year-old man.

The team were called out to deal with the man who was firing his shotgun in his apartment. Sadly, it didn’t end well for him, which is probably not all that surprising, depending on where you’re reading this.

There’s still some checking of the official record books as to whether a police officer has killed anyone in Iceland before, but there’s a couple of points in this story that perhaps highlight Iceland’s particular approach to apprehending gun-wielders:

  • Between 15-20 officers took part in the operation, plus special forces back-up
  • Teargas canisters were thrown through the windows first; and
  • Two of the special forces officers were wounded, shot in the face and hand

Iceland has a population of 322,000 and one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

But here’s an interesting fact – there are 30.3 firearms per 100 people in Iceland. That statistic has it sitting at No 15 in the world on a per capita basis.

The US is No 1, with 89 guns per resident (2007) and Australia sits at 42, 15 guns per 100 residents.

NPR is reporting that according to GunPolicy.org, an international database maintained by the University of Sydney, there were four gun-related deaths in Iceland in 2009, which was the last time the section was updated.

In the US in 2009, there were 31,347 gun-related deaths.

International Business Times reported on the fact Iceland has lots of guns, but virtually no gun crime back in January.

The conclusion it came to put that down to a ban on semi-automatic rifles and low handgun ownership.

IBT cited Elvar Árni Lund, chairman of the Hunting Association of Iceland, as saying gun ownership in Iceland “is mostly for the purpose of hunting and practicing sport. … It is in our culture to hunt wild animals.”

Which some might say proves it is possible for most people who need a gun to own a gun, without the tragic consequence of mass shootings and heavy-handed police retaliation.

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