5 years, 7 months ago
Daniel Hammarberg, writing at American Daily Herald, gives us an absolutely must-read article and commentary on Swedish gun control, its laws, the evolution of the thinking behind Swedish gun control, and lastly, a serious warning. After outlining the recent history of the laws, Hammarberg discusses the push for still stricter controls.
Though most people would consider these laws outright draconian, there are plenty of calls for even more strict legislation; something that just as in the USA also takes place in Sweden when there’s a tragedy involving guns, such as the recent massacre by Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik. On the 9th of August, an opinion piece by a child physician published in one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, called for a complete ban even on pistols. Measures such as these have strong support in the country’s medical community and among the political establishment. After another man had gone on a shooting spree last year in Malmö, with five attempted murders and one actual homicide, there was a complete media frenzy, and Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask took the opportunity to present her view on how one could come to terms with the problem of gun violence.
“Beatrice Ask also feels that an overhaul has to be made of the weapons regulations, that gun permits for example have to be subject to inspection and review.”
The health authorities also added their two cents:
“The National Board of Health and Welfare has previously forwarded requests both for review of gun permits and that everyone applying for one shall also have to present a doctor’s certificate. There the Minister feels that mental illness is a factor that shall mean that you’re denied a gun permit.”
Following this, on 16 November, Ask also announced before the parliament that a new, stricter weapons law was in the works. To quote:
“The police shall also be able to request a statement from the social welfare board and the prison service along with a doctor’s certificate to determine whether someone is fit to own firearms.”
Hence, what this means is that you might have to show your criminal record sheet, whatever journal notes the social services has kept on you (and they play a significant role in Swedish society), as well as produce a certificate from a psychiatrist that you are indeed mentally competent (guilty until proven innocent).
In order to obtain a Concealed Handgun Permit in my home state of North Carolina, a background check was conducted, and I had to sign over rights to my medical records to the Sheriff of my county. Any history of substance abuse or mental illness would have disqualified me. Of course, there were no problems and I have the permit, but this is really beyond agreeable limits as far as I am concerned. It places the decision-making for suitableness to carry a weapon for self defense in the hands of someone who may adjudicate the matter based on subjective feelings, variable rules for mental health from county to county or state to state, or for any number of other non-scientific, non-quantifiable reasons. Yet, Sweden now requires a psychiatric evaluation, and without clearer opinions from the Supreme Court, the U.S. may be headed there. Continuing with Hammarberg’s analysis (and this is the important part).
In spite of the tyrannical control of firearms, this has had little effect on the explosion in the violent crime rate the country has been suffering from during the last couple of decades, with a homicide rate that’s now at an historic all-time high, with 333 reported cases during 2010, or about 2/3 of the American rate; rape and assault rates are over twice as high as the American ones (Editorial note: Gun control never really accomplishes the stated justification of reducing violence; this is always a veneer or pretense for the laws).
And whilst the government has always attempted to tighten the noose around legal gun owners after every incident of this sort, the vast majority of violent crimes are committed through the use of illicit weapons. The control of these illicit weapons isn’t nearly as successful as the one of their legal counterparts, as admitted in a police interview from 2005. To quote:
“The police estimate that thousands of firearms are smuggled into Sweden ever year. Every day on average, three serious crimes are committed with illicit firearms. Yet Customs has a hard time intercepting the gun smugglers. During 2003 and 2004, fewer than twenty firearms were seized by Swedish Customs workers.”
One of the most publicized shooting sprees in Swedish history, during which a man in mass media labeled Lasermannen — “The Laser Man” – shot at eleven immigrants and killed one of them, was also committed with an illicit weapon, and hence would not have been affected by these control efforts. This doesn’t seem to bother the police though — somehow everything becomes a matter of preventing any sort of unlicensed gun ownership:
“According to Sonny Björk at the Stockholm county police, the cooperation is necessary. But he also feels the law needs to change to get at the growing smuggling.
“We have to up the sentencing guidelines for illicit weapons ownership so it doesn’t become appealing carrying a firearm. Today you gladly accept a prison sentence for the advantage of owning a firearm, Sonny Björk says.”
One thing you can count on never hearing in the public debate is criticism of the gun laws in place here. There is lamentation over that big crazy country in the west, however, where the people own all of these guns. In an editorial in Sydsvenskan shortly after Seung-Hui Cho shot up Virginia Tech, Lennart Pehrson expresses his grievances over what he believes is essentially unrestricted gun ownership in the USA. Sweden is also the country where the infamous Michael Moore is hailed as a truth-teller and a hero, where the state-TV is always keen on showing his documentaries repeatedly, and with Bowling for Columbine being one of the movies promoted on its web page.
Hammarberg then warns about Swedish style gun control laws coming to the shores of America. There are various commentaries asserting the need for ratification of the coming U.S. arms control treaty, some of them simply indignant and insulting. But here is a fact that none of the advocates of the U.S. arms treaty will admit. In order to interdict illegal arms sales and control proliferation of arms into second and third world countries, they do not need for the U.S. government to know the location of and register every serial number for every weapon in the U.S. It’s simply an unnecessary intrusion into U.S. constitutional protections. A national register is a possible first step towards confiscation, and the U.N. doesn’t actually need any other information or controls in the U.S. to accomplish their stated goals. The U.S. is not the problem.
Confiscation. Could such a think happen? Would such a thing happen? Well, it’s important to realize where we are. The lower courts have piled on the SCOTUS for failure to explain the extent to which ownership of a firearm is legal and constitutional beyond the confines of one’s domicile. According to the lower courts, all the decisions in Heller and McDonald accomplished was to justify ownership of a weapon within your own home, not outside the home – not anywhere – not anytime – not for any reason whatsoever.
And these decisions passed by a bare 5-4 vote. Note. Four justices on the U.S. Supreme Court (and that tally will probably hold with Kagan’s history of disrespect for the second amendment) do not even believe that U.S. citizens have a right to own a weapon within their own home. Within their own home.
We truly are one vote away from loss of the second amendment. No further intrusions by the U.N. are needed. The U.N. should concern itself with … oh, I don’t know … underwater basket weaving or something to occupy its time so that it won’t be a hazard to the balance of the world.