Finland’s accommodating gun laws are likely to attract attention after an 18-year-old youth shot dead seven students and a head teacher at a high school near Helsinki. At least ten others were injured. The teenager had earlier posted a video online predicting the massacre at Tuusula.
After targeting his victims, Pekka Eric Auvinen turned the weapon on himself and later died in hospital. The shootings have sent a shock wave through Finland, which has the lowest crime rate in Europe.
But the popularity of hunting as a pastime means that 56 out of every hundred Finns have a gun – putting it third behind the US and Yemen in terms of ownership, according to research.
The government has said it will now look at the issue of firearms legislation. Anyone aged 15 and over can apply for a licence in Finland if they can give a valid reason. The easiest way to do this is by joining a shooting or hunting club, as Auvinen did in October.
Violent incidents are rare at Finnish schools and metal detectors, common in the United States, are unheard of. An emergency centre has been set up in Tuusula where staff and students from the school are being offered counselling. Auvinen also posted a rambling manifesto online, describing himself as a “social darwinist” and “storm spirit”.
It showed images of him holding a gun and using apples for target practice. All the videos have now been removed.