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Can America Learn from Iceland's Gun Laws?


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Jul 30, 2018

Can America Learn from Iceland's Gun Laws?


Iceland, a tiny country about the size of Kentucky with a population of around 300,000 people, has not had a shooting murder since 2007. Unlike other countries with low crime rates, such as Japan many Icelanders own guns and are staunch gun supporters. The process to own a gun in Iceland is very rigorous, and requires a phsycial and mental health assessement, a background check and meeting with the chief of police, a 4 hour lecture followed by a test, which must be completed with 75% accuracy, and finally a day-long practice session at a shooting range. In several places in the U.S., you can buy a semi-automatic rifle in one day, with only a sketchy background check. 

Many Icelanders believe that their system could help the United States. Gunnar Rúnar Sveinbjörnsson, a spokesman for Reykjavik's police department, said "The system here works. We would be glad to help." However, others have pointed out that there are large cultural and societal differences between the two countries, as guns in Iceland are not intended to be for "self defense," since there is little crime, but instead are used for hunting or competitive shooting. There is also little gang activity or economic inequality in Iceland. 

I don't think that anyone can argue that Iceland and the U.S. don't have differences, but I do think that we can learn from Iceland's gun laws. I doubt that more gun regulation would affect levels of gang shootings or other crime-related shootings, but I think that a lengthy proces such as Iceland's could help decrease school and workplace shootings, particularly since it includes multiple face-to-face meetings and a mental health screening. Unfortunately, I doubt that the NRA and other opponents of gun control will ever compromise enough to allow something like this.

Would Iceland's gun laws work in the United States? Why or why not? 


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