A Finnish government commission on Wednesday proposed a ban on semiautomatic handguns after two school shootings in recent years left 20 people dead.
The ban, which needs parliamentary approval, would sharply reduce the number of legal weapons in a country that ranks among the world's top five in civilian gun ownership.
"We've had a very weapon-friendly culture," commission chairman Pekka Sauri said. "In carrying out the proposals we would, of course, pay compensation to anyone who turns in weapons."
The Nordic nation of 5.3 million has 650,000 licensed gun owners. Of some 250,000 handguns, more than 200,000 are semiautomatic, according to Sauri.
The recommendation came in a report on an attack in September 2008, when a 22-year-old gunman killed nine fellow students and a teacher before shooting himself at a vocational high school in Kauhajoki, western Finland.
Less than a year earlier, a teenage student fatally shot eight people and himself at Jokela High School in Tuusula, near the capital, Helsinki.
We've discussed some of the Finnish gun violence here and here. What's your opinion? Is the suggestion to ban handguns a ridiculous and emotional response to these types of incidents? Are the people in Finland who want this deluded by their fear of inanimate objects?
I don't think so. In a small country, perhaps what would be untenable in the United States as a solution might be exactly what they need. In spite of all the pro-gun claims to the contrary, gun availability plays a significant role in the amount and the gravity of violence for the simple reason that the gun is the most efficient killing tool.
An interesting thing about the Finland situation is the pro-gun folks over there don't have the trumped-up justification their American counterparts have. There's no 2nd Amendment there.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.