This week the Swedish Government presented the proposal for the implementation of the Firearms Directive. As anticipated the Government has opted for an over implementation that goes further than what the compromise between the European Commission and the European Parliament states. This means that for instance magazines will become defined as vital gun parts and hence falls under the need for a permit issued by the Police Authorities. An accidentally dropped magazine while hunting, not an unheard of occurrence, would thus get a hunter into legal trouble. What added public safety the proposal will bring is highly questionable. Furthermore when it comes to retailing of hunting implements an intermediary will need a permit, thus it’s highly likely that online services will delete adds selling sport shooting and hunting equipment as a whole. To what use?
This hoplophobic agenda does have an apparent logic however. The Swedish Police has for years been peddling a theory of “leakage” of legal firearms to criminals. Thus for instance the number of firearms a hunter is allowed to own is limited. This “leakage theory” was very outspoken in the 2013 governmental investigation made by Doris Högne Rydheim, then herself a member of the National Police Board. She didn’t even pretend to be objective and straight out said on national television:
“-Sport shooting isn’t a sport, hockey that’s a sport!”
There is however no empirical support for this “leakage” theory, something that scientists like Lakomaa and Hagelin have proven in their research. Empirical facts are however not of importance for neither the Swedish Police nor the Government. Hence Rydheim came to the conclusion that there was a need for implementation of retroactive legislation, in fact itself banned by law, when it came to the ownership of submachine guns, a highly regulated national form of competition sport shooting once supported by the Armed Forces. Rydheim’s motivation was:
“-We know that it’s primarily illegal firearms that are the problem, however when we have stopped the smuggling of such firearms into the country legal firearms of this type will become of interest for criminals and hence we must implement a proactive legislation.”
To my knowledge in Swedish legal history only one legal civilian owned submachine gun has even been stolen and it was found and never used in illegal activities. Hence Rydheim’s attitude fell under the same narrative as the one of our former Minister of Internal Affairs Anders Ygeman who said: “-We must consider public safety!” as he and the rest of the Swedish Social Democratic/Green Government is very much on board with the European Commission regarding the Firearms Directive in order to in practice ban law abiding citizens to own firearms with “high levels of firepower“.
Rydheim’s investigation was met with considerable criticism and was to the largest extent scrapped, although it still gave the Police a more far reaching mandate when it comes to firearms related matters. Not pleased with the outcome however the Police went the Swedish EU-Commissioner Cecilia Malmström (L), that is known for her anti gun sentiments, in order to get Brussels push through their political agenda. However there wasn’t the right “political climate” in Brussels at that time so this initiative didn’t go anywhere. That changed after the terrorist attacks in Paris in the autumn of 2015 however. Even though the terrorist attack on Bataclan was carried out with illegal firearms acquired on the black market the European Commission wholeheartedly embraced the agenda of the Swedish Police and tried to force an all out European ban on semi automatic rifles, the deactivation of museum pieces etc. without any impact analysis, that is required according to standard legal procedure. According to the EU-Commission there wasn’t time to abide to Brussels own judicial standards. Hardly credible but quite logical given the political goals.
Understandably law abiding sport shooters, hunters and collectors throughout Europe were infuriated by being seen as a potential security risk and there was a substantial counter lobbyism visavi the European Parliament in order to stem the tide of draconian laws that would have no effect to factual problems in existence. Thankfully the compromise reached got rid of the worst part of the suggestions however.
Swedish firearms law already is quite stringent and legal firearms hardly an issue in Swedish society and really does not need any changes in order to meet the criteria of the compromise. That did not prevent the Government from now trying to over implement the Directive on a national level though. This is hardly surprising given the fact that the two negotiators sent to Brussels, the two former colleagues Nils Hänninger, now at the Department of Justice and Peter Thorsell, then head of the legal department of the Swedish Police, ignored the mandate given to them by the Swedish Parliament during the negotiations in the GENVAL council and were provided with political protection by our Minister of Justice Morgan Johansson. The latter even tried to classify this democratic foul play with reference to being a matter of “national security”.
However it’s not only submachine guns and semi automatic sporting rifles that are seen as non grata by civil servants within the Swedish Police and by proxy by the Swedish Government. Bolt action rifles with a “tactical appearance” are also a matter of considerable civil servant activism as the Swedish Police refuses to abide to verdicts by our courts, claiming legal uncertainty whenever a verdict contradicts the the political agenda of the authorities. Since the Police is financed through taxation the authorities bring applications for firearm permits for specific types of firearms that civil servants at the Police “don’t like” to court until a verdict is reached that goes the way of the authorities. Then a legal precendent is reached, however that is not the case the other way around. A law abiding citizen must pay from his or her own pocket for going to court, not so when it comes to the Police.
Another way of blatant civil servant activism can be seen through the Swedish Police now trying to pass trough a new legislation regarding shooting ranges that effectively makes it impossible to compete in for instance IPSC with reference to concerns of safety, thus opening up for the Police to deny permits for these types of firearms even though they aren’t formally banned. To my knowledge there have never been any accidents during IPSC competitions in Sweden, but as mentioned previously empirical evidence is not necessary when considering public safety. The Swedish Police and various shooting clubs often share ranges, many Police officers are also members of civilian clubs. So in order to exempt the Police form this effective ban there is a proposal to build new ranges for the Police at a cost of many million SEK. This will also have the effect that many shooting clubs can’t afford to have all year around activities which causes secondary problems as the Swedish Police, without any support in the law, has implemented new directives that demands “activity” for a renewal of a 5 year firearms permit. However if the permit expires in the spring and sport shooter hasn’t had the ability to “be active” given our harsh winter climate that sport shooter is in the risk of being denied a renewal of the permit.
There was a case in which a member of the National Pistol Team and eight fold Swedish Champion named Robert Andersson was denied a renewal for his .22 lr pistol with reference to not being active enough. He competes with his 9 mm pistol and, as most sport shooters do, do most of his training with his 22 pistol due to financial reasons. That was according to the Swedish Police not a valid reason for a firearms permit though. Hence Andersson had to go to court.
The previously mentioned Peter Thorsell openly admitted in a court case regarding a firearms permit for a semi automatic rifle for hunting purposes, a Benelli MR1, which Thorsell also claimed stood for Military Rifle and not Modular Rifle, which is case, in order to claim that is was unsuited for hunting and hence not valid for a permit, that:
“-It’s not a matter of being right, it’s a matter of getting the courts approval.”
Even though the Police changed the technical references for a denial of a permit no less than 7 times (!) before withdrawing all such references the court still went with the Police’s narrative. Given the fact that the manager of the Administrative Court was Barbro Jönsson, previously employed within the Legal Department of the Police in West Gothland and known hoplophobe and legal querulant, it’s not to hard to guess why that was?
Peter Thorsell was also caught red handed on several occasions outright lying in court, deleting information in defiance with the Public Access to information and consciously providing mass media with incorrect information. That the Swedish Government sent this man to negotiate in Brussels, and also covered his back when it became known that he had ignored the mandate given to him by the Parliament, really shows that there is no love lost with regards to legal ownership of firearms on behalf of the Government. Thus it comes as no surprise that we now see an over implementation of the Firearms Directive.
The Government has gone even further tough, even backing off previous promises given to for instance the Hunter’s Association regarding suppressors. The implementation is basically back at square one.
In today’s urbanized society hunting and sport shooting is increasingly becoming seen as suspect. In an era of political correctness firearms are seen as inherently “evil” even though they in fact inanimate objects, and hence we have gone from a situation where civil marksmanship was seen as an asset to the State to instead being seen as potential problem. Last year there were more than 300 shootings in the streets of Sweden which resulted in more than 40 homicides. The absolute majority of these shootings were carried out with illegal firearms smuggled into the country, primarily from the Balkans, firearms that hence have never been in the hands of law abiding Swedish citizens. Sweden has substantial problems with regards to border control, the latter being in practice non existent, and social alienation in the suburbs leading to gang related crime. To remedy the latter problems would take enormous efforts by the Swedish society, thus it’s a looming prospect for inept politicians to in eyes of the uninitiated majority make vigorous attempts in order to curb the situation by going after the firearms of the law abiding citizens i.e. a matter of pointless symbol politics. Unfortunately the uninitiated majority, that is not affected by these political measures, fall for this ruse, all according to the logic of: “-We must consider public safety!” and “guns are evil”. This is of course insulting to any individual with a rational mindset.
Unfortunately this rampant civil servant activism with political backing is not just confined to firearms in this country. The Government through the Swedish Forest Agency are trying to in practice deprive owners of “valuable biotopes” of their livelihood without any compensation as the State wishes to create nature reserves without any economic compensation to the effected citizens. In a case where a number of victims of this insane agenda had sued the State, the Administrative Court in Umeå came to the verdict that the latter must compensate the effected citizens with 18 million SEK, a verdict that Swedish Forest Agency now has appealed citing “legal uncertainty”, the same modus operandi seen within the Swedish Police regarding firearm permits.
The Swedish Government wishes to portray Sweden as a humanitarian superpower and as the vanguard of democracy, often lecturing other countries, while law abiding citizens like hunters, sport shooters and owners of woodlands are treated in a manner that could be expected in Eastern Europe during the Communist era. In fact private ownership of woodland as such was put into question in an official governmental investigation.
The current state of individual liberties and freedoms in Sweden is hence at an all time low since Sweden became a parliamentary democracy. The Socialist/Green Government should thus take a good look at itself before it points fingers at others. The political collusion between civil servants activists within the Swedish Police and the Swedish Forest Agency and the Government is hardly dignifying for a proclaimed vanguard of democracy. The well known British reformist socialist and author George Orwell once wrote:
“-That rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”
It’s unfortunately apparent that the current Swedish Government behaves more like Communists rather than Reformist Socialists regarding individual freedoms and liberties however..