ICELAND - Gun-Loving Country with No Shootings Since 2007

Arno Froese

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.

“The system here works,” said Gunnar Rúnar Sveinbjörnsson, a flip-flop-wearing spokesman for Reykjavik’s police department. “We would be glad to help.”

Like many outside the U.S., Sveinbjörnsson struggles to comprehend the extent of American gun violence.

No other country in the developed world comes close to the U.S. when it comes to gun ownership, gun homicides, mass shootings and police killings.

Gun control advocates in the U.S. sometimes point to countries such as Japan, where strict laws and a pacifist culture mean there are very few guns, and as a result very few gun deaths.

But guns are everywhere in Iceland, about one for every three people, and many here are staunch advocates of their right to own a firearm.

The last gun killing here was 11 years ago, and there have only been four in the past two decades, according to, a project run by Australia’s University of Sydney.

Iceland’s modern peace contrasts with the violent past of this land of fire and ice.

It sits on the shifting boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, formed by spewing lava and carved by colossal glaciers.

It was first settled by Norwegian Viking outlaws in the 9th century, but plagues, volcanic eruptions and inhospitable weather meant it has remained one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth.

And like many countries in Europe, most police here are unarmed.

Only specialist units, like the Viking Squad, Iceland’s version of a SWAT team, can carry guns and even then, they are kept in locked boxes that require senior approval to open.

Since the Icelandic police was established in 1803, its officers have only shot and killed one person. This was in 2013, and afterward the police chief, Haraldur Johannessen, said he was “deeply saddened” and apologized to the victim’s family., 28 May 2018

Arno's commentary

In the early annals of history, we learn that weapons were made to kill or to defend, of which the result is the same. It all depends on which weapon is used against whom.

This reminds us of a seemingly contradictory statement in Scripture: “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Luke 22:36 reports: “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

The disciples did not understand prophecy; they were thinking of a literal, physical reestablishment of the kingdom of Israel. This is evident from the fact that, when Peter took his sword to oppose Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was strictly forbidden to do so. It is my understanding that Luke 22:36 is a prophecy for the future. When Jesus was present, they needed no money, scrip (bag), or shoes, as we see in verse 35. But now, something different is going to take place: the disciples, and with them the Church of Jesus Christ, should properly prepare. In my service, when I travel, I must have money with me; my message must be prepared; I must buy a plane ticket, and preferably an insurance policy in case of cancellation; in other words, one does the normal, sensible things like anyone else on planet earth. This also has spiritual application: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).

What we do know with absolute certainty is what we learn from the Acts of the Apostles, the epistles, and early Christians. They never physically defended themselves against the enemy. That was later added when politics became religionized and religion became politicized. That, unfortunately, is the case in today’s politicized church. We should learn what it means to be in the world but not of the world.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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