Recent events in the US have hit me pretty hard. I think it is hard for any parent not to sit up and notice such tragic events. I try to keep this blog relatively free of political slant, but sometimes it is difficult. I am pretty opinionated.
It is times like this that I do wonder about gun culture in the US. I grew up learning to shoot a gun. I learned to shoot a rifle before I hit puberty and my father took me to the shooting range to try out some more powerful weapons when I was young. I learned to respect guns.
We did not, however, have guns in our house. There was no need.
Since moving to Sweden, I have had a little bit of encounter with gun culture here, mostly because of family and colleagues who are hunters. And I know they have an incredible respect for their guns.
This is what I have learned about Swedish gun laws. Please though, I am not a legal expert. Don’t take this as the final word. If I have gotten anything wrong, please let me know!
1) There are actually a lot of guns in Sweden, mostly because there is a lot of hunting. A hunter needs to pass a test or/and be the member of a shooting range for over 6 months to get a license to purchase weapons. Once they get the license they can purchase multiple weapons.
2) You cannot carry your gun around - only while you are hunting. I remember one colleague freaking out about what to do with a gun on the way home from a hunting trip while stopping at a grocery store. He removed a part of the gun that was essential for its function and took that part into the store while leaving the rest in the car – and was still not sure of the legality of this.
3) You keep your guns locked up. This is key. Your guns are not for protecting you, they are for hunting. You need to keep your guns locked away and the key not easy to get. People should not be able to access your guns.
4) If you shoot an intruder, you will go to jail. There are laws out there that limit the amount of force you can use. If the choice is between taking someone’s life and losing your TV, you will be punished for taking the life --- I could be wrong about this one, since I cannot seem to find the actual law on the books -- but I have heard a few examples of this.
I think the biggest difference between guns in the US and guns in Sweden is that guns here are not for self-defense. There are no conceal and carry laws.
These issues are not black and white. It very much goes hand and hand with the mentality of Swedes and Americans. When you live in a society that looks down upon spanking, bullying and other minor acts of violence – instead of considering these all ‘parts of growing up’ I think it does affect your take on all acts of violence. If your answer to getting your kid to stop hitting is to hit them back, the next step may just be that that the best way to deal with a burglar is to hit them first.