A man was shot in downtown Reykjavík on Saturday night, only days after two people were shot in the Grafarvogur neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city. Both shootings appear to be the result of a personal conflict and neither incident has resulted in death, although the woman shot last week suffered serious injuries. Despite these incidents, Icelandic police have stated that the general public is not at increased risk from firearms.
General public not the target of armed attacks
Three men were arrested in the shooting that occurred last Saturday night in downtown Reykjavík, though one has now been released. All of the men are Icelandic and under 20 years old. The wounded man was brought to hospital and according to Vísir was not in critical condition. In last week’s shooting, a man and woman were wounded and the woman’s injuries were serious but not critical. Vísir’s sources state that the weapon used was a 3D-printed firearm but the police have not issued any information on the firearm in question. Professor of Sociology Helgi Gunnlaugsson told RÚV that while the does not indicate that the general public is at increased risk from violent crime, it is a cause for concern if young men in Iceland are choosing to solve conflicts with weapons. Chief Superintendent Grímur Grímsson told Vísir. “When two shootings occur over the course of a week, it’s not unusual for people to wonder and be concerned. We believe that both of these cases were incidents where people point firearms at other people they know. So we do not believe that there is cause to be worried about the general public being shot.”
Police shut down websites that sell firearms
Runólfur Þórhallsson, Superintendent of the National Police Commissioner’s Analytical Department, says it is not out of the question for clashes between criminal groups to impact the public. Mostly, though: “It could cause fear. That is a very bad development in our small, peaceful society. But we are not seeing that their goal is to use weapons against the general public, these are first and foremost clashes between criminals.”
Rúnólfur says police have been monitoring an increase in the use of firearms over the past several years. Icelandic police closely monitor websites that sell firearms, for example, and have even managed to take down a few. Rúnólfur admits that police could do better when it comes to preventative policing, but it would require more manpower. “This is especially true of organised crime,” he stated.
Weapons for police not necessary
Icelandic police do not carry guns as part of their standard equipment, though the police force has special armed units to respond to situations involving firearms. Rúnólfur does not consider it necessary to increase the use of weapons by police officers. “There was both a survey among police officers and we know that both the public and the government are of the opinion that general law enforcement [officers] do not need to be armed. Although these have been serious events in the past few days, we still consider that to be the case.”
Nevertheless, such cases are a challenge for police, who Rúnólfur says do need to increase the number of officers, something that the force has been trying to do for over a decade. “It just hasn’t been successful, unfortunately, we are still in a similar situation to the one we were in in 2007, so it’s clear we have to pull up our sleeves.”