Once again we can look to Iceland for setting the trends that are benefiting the people of the country.
After Iceland suffered a heavy hit in the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the country was unique in how it chose to handle the disaster. It simply let the banks fail, which resulted in defaults totaling $85 billion—lending ample justification for the prosecution and conviction of bank executives for various fraud-related charges. In addition, every Icelander received a payout for the sale of one of its three largest banks, Íslandsbanki.
It’s no wonder then that the country has set another trend in that it hasn’t had anyone killed with a gun since 2007 even though every civilian is allowed to own firearms. Those who live in Ireland attribute that to their gun laws and apparently, so does NBC News.
Like many of his countrymen, Olaf Garðar Garðarsson is eager to get his hands on a rifle.
But he can’t just walk into a store and buy one. Instead, he is sitting through a mandatory four-hour lecture on the history and physics of the firearm.
This is Iceland — the gun-loving nation that hasn’t experienced a gun-related murder since 2007.
“For us, it would be really strange if you could get a license to buy a gun and you had no idea how to handle it,” says Garðarsson, 28, a mechanical engineer. “I would find it very odd if [a gun owner] had never even learned which is the pointy end and which is the trigger end.”
Iceland is a sparsely populated island in the northern Atlantic. Its tiny population of some 330,000 live on a landmass around the size of Kentucky.
St. Louis, Missouri, which has a population slightly smaller than Iceland’s, had 193 homicides linked to firearms last year.
Icelanders believe the rigorous gun laws on this small, remote volcanic rock can offer lessons to the United States.
The NBC News article goes on to say …guns are everywhere in Iceland, about one for every three people, and many here are staunch advocates of their right to own a firearm.
“There’s nothing wrong with the gun,” said Jóhann Vilhjálmsson, a gunsmith in Reykjavik, echoing a favorite argument of the National Rifle Association. “The gun kills nothing, you know? It’s the person who is holding onto the gun.”
The last gun killing here was 11 years ago, and there have only been four in the past two decades, according to GunPolicy.org, a project run by Australia’s University of Sydney.
And Icelanders take the responsibility that comes with owning a deadly weapon very seriously.
That’s why Garðarsson, the mechanical engineer and hopeful gun-owner, is currently sitting in a Reykjavik hotel conference room learning about the ins and outs of his weapon of choice.
This is only one step in a meticulously regulated journey.
Candidates are examined by a doctor who checks they are in good physical and mental health.
They have a meeting with the chief of police, who asks them why they want to own a gun and runs a background check to make sure they have no criminal record.
Then comes the lecture, followed by a written test the next day that they have to pass with a grade of 75 percent or higher.
The final part is a day-long practice session at a shooting range outside the capital. Here, against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, they blast at bright-orange targets fired into the sky by a machine.
“It feels like somebody cares that you’re getting a gun and what you’re going to do with the gun,” Garðarsson says at his apartment on the outskirts of Reykjavik. “So you’re not going to buy a gun to do stupid things.”
If they pass, he and his girlfriend will have been studying and preparing for around 13 months.