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Gun Debate Breaks out in Finland

Looks familiar to anyone in this country:

A pro-weapons advocate, Otso Vainio claims that the hysterical media has distorted the scope of the problem.

“The [average] amount of people killed with legal guns in Finland, I can’t remember exact figures, but it was two point something annually. Thirty-nine people die from the heat of the sauna annually.”

The gun debate will continue to divide Finland, but if further shooting tragedies happen, it may eventually spur Finnish lawmakers to make citizens surrender their firearms.

If the Finns want to keep their guns, they are going to have to fight to keep them. One of the big problems I think European gun owners have had is they fall back reflexively to the sporting position. The problem with that is, no one is going to agree to preserve your sport over what they see as social ills. Pit sports against the public good and sports are going to lose.

It becomes a very different argument when you frame it as removing people’s ability to defend their own lives. Having spoken with some Europeans about this issue, I will say I don’t know how much this will resonate with them versus how much it resonates with Americans. Some Europeans I’ve spoken with are very committed to the idea that protection is a community function rather than an individual function. In the US, even fairly liberal, lefty people fundamentally believe in the right to use lethal force in self-protection, even if they aren’t completely comfortable with the idea of guns. A big aspect to our success here has been to get ourselves on the side of individual self-protection, and our opponents on the other side of that debate. In any political struggle, you want to pass your position off as the mainstream position, and paint your opponent as a nutty extremist. What’s the issue in Finland? I don’t know. Defense against bears maybe? Then there’s also this kind of bear, which has occasionally been known to wander into Finland.

14 Responses to “Gun Debate Breaks out in Finland”

  1. Finland’s sudden problem with random acts of gun violence is tied to Finland’s recent and dramatic deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill–one of the same factors that drove the problem in the U.S.

  2. pax says:

    The problem with that is, no one is going to agree to preserve your sport over what they see as social ills. Pit sports against the public good and sports are going to lose.

    We need to keep the defense culture alive and thriving by guarding the important assumptions in our language. For instance, when the NRA bans the use of “weapons” in their classes, it feels friendlier to newcomers and less threatening. But it ALSO neatly sidesteps the idea that firearms are for self-defense and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Similarly, when NSSF organizes the SHOT Show to imply that the only folks interested in defensive use of firearms are military and police, they surrender an important tool for preserving our rights: the cultural knowledge that firearms can be used by ordinary people to protect innocent life and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    It ain’t just European gun owners who tend to default to the sporting position…

  3. Sebastian says:

    I don’t have too much of an issue with the “weapon” vs. “firearm” distinction for beginners. Whether it’s a weapon or not depends on how you’re using it.

  4. Rustmeister says:

    In Europe, taking the sporting position is about all they have, isn’t it? I mean, they don’t have anything similar to the Second Amendment, do they?

  5. Sebastian says:

    No… but the right to defend one’s life I think is pretty much a universal human right.

  6. pax says:

    Whether it’s a weapon or not depends on how you’re using it.

    If you’re taking a class with a title that begins, “Personal Protection…” then you will be using your firearm as a weapon. You intend to use it to defend yourself and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Avoiding the word “weapon” even when it’s plainly the right word sends a clear cultural message that we are ashamed of defensive firearm uses and would rather have everyone think that our firearms are just for sport. We need to carefully guard our words in order to protect our culture.

  7. Weer'd Beard says:

    Yep the “Sporting” issue is a looser. Just look at lawn darts.

    Not only does the defensive gun use issue completely destroy the opposition’s trump card which is gun deaths and violent crimes, but it also completely disarms the minutiae of banter that always come when somebody drops the talking point of “You can’t hunt with an X” or “Y is made only to kill!”

    “You can’t hunt with an X”: I probably could, but I don’t intend to. This is my defensive gun.

    “Y is made only to kill!” And what’s wrong with that? You have a problem with justifiable homicides?

    Sure you can parade pictures of people shooting deer with ARs and AKs, or show them the .450 Bushmaster, or the Remington ARs which is essentially made ONLY made for hunting. Or you could point to all those tricked out race guns and bullseye pistols ect ect. But let’s face it, that’s all bullshit when you get down to brass tacks. What’s important is if I’m confronted by a violent threat, be it on the street, or at home, I can reach for the best possible tool for my own defense.

  8. koveras225 says:

    I have found that most Europeans I have had the chance to discuss the issue with are rather hostile to the idea of individually owned firearms. For almost any reason, but especially for self defense. I have never encountered any other people so vehemently against the idea of using a firearm for defense, or even having one to begin with. Not even the Brady Campaign…

    I honestly wouldn’t place any bets on the ‘self defense’ card flying in most of Europe.

  9. Ronnie says:

    Europeans generally all seem to have these fervent beliefs in cradle-to-grave, womb-to-tomb, nanny-state socialism.

    If government is supposed to provide the individual with every last little thing in their mindsets, then it should not come as any big shock to us here in America that these same Europeans would have the same expectations regarding the defense of their very lives, homes, and property.

  10. Matthew Carberry says:

    I’ve been rereading an interesting book. “Honor: A History”

    http://www.amazon.com/Honor-History-James-Bowman/dp/1594031428

    One of the points made by the author is that with the demise and derogation of the honor culture in the West, particularly in reaction to WWI, came a pacifist streak that painted all violence as suspect if not unjustifiable regardless of circumstance. This renunciation of violence as a civilized, progressive response led naturally to a distrust of the tools of violence, no matter who possessed them.

    Anyway, it’s worth a read.

  11. BobG says:

    “Europeans generally all seem to have these fervent beliefs in cradle-to-grave, womb-to-tomb, nanny-state socialism.”

    I think you may be right. My feeling is that Europe was run under feudalism for so many generations that too many of the “common people” have been programmed to think like serfs/subjects, and look up to the the “upper class” to take care of them.
    Just my opinion.

  12. Andy says:

    And yet, there are the Swiss.

    Given the statistics about per capita gun ownership in Finland, I would think that getting organized would be the key.

  13. Sebastian says:

    The great difficulty is getting everyone on the same page. Gun owners in the US, at least the ones who are active in the issue, understand the “no one gets thrown off the lifeboat” strategy.

    You have to make rifle owners understand that they will come for them in time, so throwing handgun owners under the bus just gets them one step closer. You have to make handgun owners understand they need hunters, etc. That’s more difficult that it sounds.

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