Iceland in shock as cops kills a man for 1st time in history

The nation of Iceland is in shock this week after the police shot and killed a crazed man with a gun.

This was the first time in Iceland’s history that the police have ever killed anyone.

PRI has an interesting radio interview with Thora Arnorsdottir, the news editor at RUV, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

A "city bird" view of Reykjavik, Iceland, via Shutterstock.

A “city bird” view of Reykjavik, Iceland, via Shutterstock.

Arnorsdottir told PRI that the police were called because the neighbors of a 59 year old man with severe psychiatric problems thought they heard shots, and called the police.  The police arrived, rushed in, and the man shot at the police.  According to AP, A special armed unit of the police (generally, the cops aren’t armed in Iceland) was then sent in, and they shot the man.

Yes, in Iceland, simply having a gun makes you the “special” SWAT team.

“The nation was in shock, this does not happen in our country, Arnorsdottir said. “This is like an American film.”

No, it’s like an American city.

Spectacular auroral display over the glacier lagoon Jokulsarlon in Iceland (via Shutterstock).

Spectacular auroral display over the glacier lagoon Jokulsarlon in Iceland (via Shutterstock).

Arnorsdottir adds that the Icelandic police don’t carry weapons because “the nation doesn’t want the police force to carry weapons – it’s threatening, it’s dangerous.”

PRI also notes that Iceland ranks 15th in the world for private gun ownership per capita, yet, you don’t ever see guns in Iceland.  They’re not part of the culture.  And violent crime is low.  Guns are used for hunting, but you just never see a gun.

The AP adds that while shotgun ownership is popular in Iceland, handguns are banned, and that’s one of the reasons many think gun violence is low in the country.

“We do not have armed guards following our prime minister, or president. That’s part of the great thing about living in a peaceful society.”


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

Share This Post

  • doofus

    nicho I read that yesterday–shocked me even for NYC unreal
    no logic here! thanks for re-posting

  • Sami Loker

    You must complete display

  • http://buddybest.tripod.com/index.html BuddyNovinski

    Iceland has around a quarter of a million people, so I am not surprised that this incident is so shocking. Even Matthew Wayne Shepard’s Wyoming doesn’t have that much peace with double to triple the population, guns for hunting, and a strong sense of community.

  • Anonymous
  • http://poodyheads.wordpress.com/ zorbear

    well, unless, you know, you hold a political office — then it’s an asset…
    :-

  • perljammer

    If it were only that simple. Iceland has a population 2/3 the size of Wyoming’s, and 2/3 of that is concentrated in one city. The population is unbelievably homogenous. The literacy rate is essentially 100%. Almost everybody belongs to the state church. This place is so different from the US in so many fundamental ways that it might as well be on a different planet.

  • Anonymous

    Oh wow. I misread it.

    I wonder if this was another case of spotting a “weapon” that was acutally an innocent object. Or if it’s just all-out mayhem at this point

  • Monoceros Forth

    You misunderstand me. They shouldn’t have let him in in 1972 either.

  • nicho

    So basically, if we slashed our defense budget down to what we really need to defend ourselves, we could thrive like Iceland and so many other countries that don’t waste tax dollars on a bloated military.

  • nicho

    He was unarmed.

  • Zorba

    This is so very, very wrong.
    The cops over-react, in Times Square in NYC for crying out loud, where there are always a whole lot of people, and they charge the mentally ill man.
    Clearly, it is extremely dangerous to be mentally ill in America. :-(

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    America: home of the gun, and land of the dead.

  • CaptObvious

    They let Fischer in because they actually care about people even those who are mentally ill. What did Fischer ever do that warranted arrest and jail? He never hurt anyone. He just shot off his mouth. There are plenty of criminals walking around Wall Street and Washington that are far more worthy of jail time. This story just shows how screwed up our priorities are. The harshest penalties for those with contrary opinions but fraud, thievery, and conspiracy get a pass.

  • Anonymous

    That’s standard practice sadly – totally legal. If someone brandishes a weapon, the police have the right to charge them with whatever happens in “retaliation.”

  • Monoceros Forth

    I know. It’s wonderful, isn’t it. I can almost imagine the sweaty desperation at the NYPD Legal Bureau after learning of the glorious deeds of their best and brightest: “Oh, f–k, there’s got to be some way we can blame the victims for this. To the library!”

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    *facepalm*

  • cole3244

    in america you are a special armed unit if you have not shot or killed someone on duty and almost everyone is a special swat team by the icelandic standard, i exaggerate because i care.

  • pappyvet

    Very sad. Even more so because they could easily compare the tragedy to life here in America.

  • nicho

    In the US, you’re a special unit of the police, if you can actually shoot straight. “Statistically, the NYPD usually requires about 331 rounds to hit 54 targets, of which 14 will be innocent bystanders, 24 will be dogs, and 16 will be people they were actually aiming at.”

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/11/nypd-police-shootings-numbers-2012.html

  • nicho

    They got a long way to go to catch up with the US. Mentally disturbed, unarmed man wanders into the middle of Times Square. Doofus cops shoot at him, miss, and hit two women instead. Now they are charging the guy with “vicarious assault” on the two women.

    http://www.commondreams.org/further/2013/12/05-2

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    You’re a “special” unit of the police if you have a gun. Amazing.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Found an AP story that explains, and added it to the story. Here’s my edit:

    Arnorsdottir told PRI that the police were called because the neighbors of a 59 year old man with severe psychiatric problems thought they heard shots, and called the police. The police arrived, rushed in, and the man shot at the police. According to AP, A special armed unit of the police (generally, the cops aren’t armed in Iceland) came in and shot the man.

    Yes, in Iceland, simply having a gun makes you the “special” SWAT team.

  • perljammer

    Interesting questions about a very unique country. Iceland’s population is less than a third of a million. Due to the strategic importance of its location, NATO is more than happy to provide for Iceland’s defense, so it doesn’t need to pay for a standing army. The most significant government expense is for healthcare. Unemployment is currently about 5.3%.

    Social services are based upon the Nordic welfare model, which depends upon a high labor participation rate, a high level of education, and high-paying jobs for most people.

    In the years preceding the world-wide banking meltdown, Iceland had been moving toward having an economy based on financial services and investment banking. When the meltdown came, Iceland suffered the biggest migration in its history, with over 1.5% of the country’s population fleeing for greener pastures. Relative to the size of its economy, Iceland’s systemic banking collapse was the largest suffered by any country in economic history. According to Wikipedia: In the wake of the crisis, Iceland instituted “capital controls” that made it impossible for many foreigners to get their money out of the country. The controls are still in place, and are among the biggest hurdles for attracting international investment in the Icelandic economy.

    Iceland was forced to borrow from the IMF and Eurozone countries to weather its financial crisis. Many Icelanders have remained unhappy with the state of the economy and government austerity policies.

  • nicho

    And by putting banksters in jail.

  • Monoceros Forth
  • http://www.newmillgay.com/ The_Fixer

    Well, that’s apparently not a quote and leaves out a tiny bit.

    I read the article on the PRI site, but didn’t listen to the interview. The police in Iceland don’t carry weapons usually. Apparently, the cop-on-the-street isn’t normally armed. But surely they have police people who have been trained and can respond with firearms should the situation warrant.

    Pure conjecture here: perhaps they responded with an armed unit because of the gunfire reports? Seems logical to me, but I have read no further reports on the matter.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I was wondering about that too.

  • perljammer

    Can anyone help me reconcile these two quotes from the article? They appear to be contradictory; maybe something got mangled in translation?

    1. The police arrived, rushed in, the man shot at the police, and they responded, killing him.

    2. Arnorsdottir adds that the Icelandic police don’t carry weapons because “the nation doesn’t want the police force to carry weapons – it’s threatening, it’s dangerous.”

  • Drew2u

    What are the social safety nets in place for Icelanders? What’s their unemployment and poverty rate?
    Also, wasn’t Iceland the one (or one of the ones) country to deny bailing out the banks; and is doing well by having done that?

  • Riccardo Cabeza

    Those poor misguided Icelanders. Don’t they know that an armed society is a polite society? Don’t they know that they need plenty of cheap, loaded liberty-freedom guns in schools, churches and bars? Poor saps.

  • Terry Cooper

    Let’s hope not! Actually, Iceland sounds like a nice place to live. It’ll be interesting to see what if anything comes of this.

  • Monoceros Forth

    They should never have let Bobby Fischer in.

  • Indigo

    It’s the Americanization of Iceland!

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