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Firearm ownership in Finland is the third highest in the world

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:25 am

Finland has the third highest number of guns in the world per capita, yet everyone isn’t shooting each other!? This must really confuse the anti-gun advocates! Or maybe, it’s not the *guns* that are the problem…??

Firearm ownership in Finland is the third highest per capita in the world, according to a new international survey.

The Small Arms Survey 2007 by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies says that there are 56 guns for every 100 residents in the country.

On a per-capita basis, the United States has the world’s most heavily armed citizenry, with 90 guns per 100 people, followed by Yemen with 61 per 100 people, and then Finland.

The study says that civilians hold around 650 million handguns worldwide, 40 percent of them in the United States.

Other countries with high per capita levels of private firearms are Switzerland (46), Iraq (39), Canada (31), Sweden (31) and Germany (30).

  • Juho Salo

    Out of interest, what *is* the Finnish gun-owner ratio?

    Bad writing..

  • Turjake

    There isn’t much gun violence in Finland, because there is no culture of using guns for self-defense. Finns use their guns for hunting and target shooting. It’s effectively illegal to use firearms for self-defense in Finland.

  • T

    Other sources say that there are 640 000 gun owners and 1,6-1,8 million guns in Finland. With a population of 5,3 million that would only make 34 guns per 100 people, and 12 out of 100 people gun owners.


  • http://www.finlandforthought.net Phil

    There isn’t much gun violence in Finland, because there is no culture of using guns for self-defense.

    The gun deaths in the United States have little to do with people using them for “self defense”

  • issi

    If you really have to compare everyting in Finland vs. US, then look at the nature of guns. It’s much harder to have a massive bloodshed with long shotguns or hunting rifles than submachineguns and automatic pistols. Big porion of guns in Finland are old two barrel shotguns, used only for couplpe shots at the first week of duck season.
    So it’s guns designed for hunting vs. guns designed for shooting people.

  • issi

    Automatic spelling checker would be nice here, thought.

  • http://www.finlandforthought.net Phil


    LOL! I think you’re getting to much of your US facts from Hollywood movies.

  • N. Siinistö

    Or maybe, it’s not the *guns* that are the problem…??

    Of course it’s not the guns that are the problem. It’s the *Americans*, stupid. ;)

  • Heikki

    Can you get a gun for self-defence in US? In Finlaand you can’t. You have to take an examination where you prove you know about animals and legistlation. Authorities also check your backgrounds before giving permissions…

  • Punter

    Heikki I don’t think that weeds out all people. I’m sure if someone wanted a gun for self-defence in Finland then they could study the booklet, take the test and get the gun just like in any other country. The types of guns and even more so the illegal guns available are the problem combined with other social problems that result in the need for self-defence with a gun. Fortunately here in Finland our social problems stem from other problems and generally have a different solution to taking up guns.

  • issi

    What, the Falling Down wasn’t a true story?
    You got the ida anyway, smartass ;)

  • presso

    Finland, Canada and Sweden. Birds and moose and other hairy and feathery creatures. Switzerland, you are required to have a gun for military purposes. Iraq, well no question why. I don´t know if Germans hunt, so that is a bit unclear. So Germany stays in half-shadow.

    That leaves USA and Yemen. No, wait. In Yemen they use them to kidnap tourists for ransom.

    That leaves USA.

  • Pekka Eskimo

    I don’t think that you necessarily need a hunting licence to own a gun in Finland. At least my father has a legal shotgun, and he’s never hunted a thing in his life. so if i wanted to shoot someone i could easily get my hands on a gun or few.

    There’s a lot of guns in Finland. And if you count the suicides, guns kill a lot of people in finland every year.

    and almost every finnish male is trained to use assault rifle and hand-grenades.

  • JG

    Yle reports that around 60 percent of the gun licences in Finland are granted for hunting. Yle also reports the the Interior Ministry has rejected the Geneva Small Arms Survey figure of 56 guns per 100. The Interior Ministry says that the figure is 32 guns per 100 citizens.

  • Anonymous

    Guns don’t kill people. Video games do.

  • Punter

    #14- I want a gun for protection. I apply and say “the gun is needed for hunting” and presto there is another 1 of the 60%. If I go and say “I need it for protection” then presto, no gun so guess which one people do? Although I suppose Finland being the most honest country and citizenship in the world that this would only happen with us lying foreigners.

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com Fred Fry

    Well Finns are pretty apt at killing in other ways, like knives, axes, etc. An ‘Engineer’ even killed his wife with a frying pan.

    The killing with guns in the US is more concentrated to the regions (Cities) where the weapons are illegal or highly regulated.

    I will do my part when I move back to Finland. I will most likely have three rifles, one shotgun and a pistol. Funny thing, one of the rifles would be illegal in Finland, but I can bring it do to an excemption for “sentimental reasons.” I kid you not.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not about getting the gun. It’s what happens if you shoot someone in self defence.

  • JG

    Punter, nr 16; Just stating what Yle is reporting as it goes into a little more detail that their English news report.
    Although, I have to admit, I don’t understand why anyone would need a gun for self-defence in Finland and I think that allowing such a situation would lead to the sort of out-of-control situation seen in some other countries.
    I have to also admit though to the report that only 60% are granted for hunting, I would have expected the figure to be significantly higher (90 or something). I can’t think what the other 40% are granted for, I assume the figures must include people who have guns in the police force and armed forces as well…

  • prince of dorkness

    Grow a brain. If you apply for a hunting gun you need to be involved in hunting and the gun you’ll get a license for will be a shotgun or a deer rifle, not a 38. special. For a short gun, try joining a gun club.

  • gopha


  • Heikki

    From http://www.poliisi.fi -> licences you can check how to get a licence for weapons and for what reasons. The main point in getting a gun is that you have to prove you have a reason to get one, and the knowledge how you can use it. It isn’t that hard to get, but you have to fill in forms, join clubs and pass the tests to get one. I don’t know exactly how hard it is in US, but I’ve heard it’s much easier.
    The social context is also important, but it’s much more complicated.
    Threre’s also a much harder penalties if you take your gun outside your closet in wrong circumstances, as 18 already pointed out.

  • philtard

    Old news really.
    But it is a fascinating question why the gun deaths in US are so much higher than even in neighbouring Canada.

    The issue is clearly not the availability or number of weapons(if you think about a hunting rifle is far more deadlier weapon than a mere 9mm sidearm and in finland most male population even has training specifically geared towards shooting people), but something to do with society and culture in general.

  • Drakon

    As far as I can see, as the average ratio of unregistered to registered firearms in different countries is around 0.5, the study assumes Finland has around a million unregistered firearms. It is stated on page 56, that

    “Less credible are claims from countries with permeable borders and substantial internal trade that they too have minimal illegal accumulations. Officials in Finland, for example, state that unregistered weapons amount to two per cent of the country’s total civilian holdings (50,000 unregistered compared to 2.1 million registered firearms), a claim that is suspiciously low compared to correlative expectations (Biting the Bullet, 2006, p. 94; Annexe 3). Balanced estimates must account for the rise of routine smuggling since 1989.”

    This is the crux of the matter. Either we have a shitload of guns hidden in barns and garages, or the then the Finnish authorities are (comparatively speaking) extremely good in making people register their guns and confiscating illegal weapons.

  • prince of dorkness

    The number of unregistered firearms is always a guesstimate, but 50 000 is an incredibly low estimate. I can think of three unregistered pieces that I know of and I’m not even into guns…

  • sdbshj

    It’s nowadays (maybe has always been?) completely impossible to find an objective study concerning firearms held by civilians. When I was living in the States and arguing, usually against but in some situations for, about private gun ownership people were giving me every fucking time “facts” and “studies” conducted by NRA or a group supported and/or funded by a pro-gun organization and at the same time telling me how studies whose results showed negative effects of gun ownership were lobbied by groups who had interests of their own at stake. Maybe the most ridiculous examples were when people were telling me how Virginia Tech shootings happened because of restrictions on guns, not because of gun freedom and that there would be no crimes/criminals at all if everybody had guns.

    I think people should be allowed to bear arms but there should also be more supervision on to whom they are sold. I’m not an anti-gun person but I strongly oppose the irresponsible way guns are distributed in the States. I had the time of my life “playing” with Remington Combat Shotgun, hunting shotgun, several rifles (including a semi-automatic .223 and a .45), and a pistol and the family who owned the weapons would never hurt anybody, but it’s fucking scary how fanatic people can get when you even try to start talking about weapons. Like Bill O’Reilly said (about the VT shooting) “This would have never happened if everbody had had guns on the campus.”

    This conversation is pointless and will never take us anywhere because when it comes to guns no one is ready to change their way of thinking no matter what.

  • Kristian

    You know, people could use homemade bombs instead of guns to achieve the same objectives.

    Gotta look at society; not whether guns are legal or illegal. It makes no difference.

  • Punter

    WTF is it with you people and your reponses? Seriously. I point out that in fact it would be easy to come up with a reason for the gun ie. I want to hunt and someone suggests I get a brain.
    Well thanks.
    Now the same logic, “I want to sports shoot so give me a pistol” and presto there is your handgun. As for getting a shotgun and that not being suitable for self defence, I take it you have never stared down the barrel of a loaded one nor have you heard of sawn offs? I can assure you, as a means of self protection or causing shit with people, the humble shotgun in pump action or sawn off fashion is a pretty formidible weapon.
    Now, does your brain get around this or would you prefer it in pictures.

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com Fred Fry

    “But it is a fascinating question why the gun deaths in US are so much higher than even in neighbouring Canada.”
    – Canada does not have the same inner-city environments that the US has. Crime in the US is concentrated in certain areas.
    - Most of the US is no more dangerous than Finland, and from my experience, I would even say that most of the US is less dangerous than Helsinki.

  • Drakon

    prince of dorkness, #25: Come to think of it, I also know of one piece.

    You are of course right. Certainly the official Finnish estimates are out of whack, but do I not think the Small Arms Study is right either. It assumes too much based on international averages and such factors as GDP.

    The real numbers are probably somewhere in between, lets say in the ballpark of 300 to 500K unregistered. This would not change Finland’s comparative position, it would only bring the numbers closer to Switzerland etc.

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com Fred Fry

    Oh yes, the report does point out that a high percentage of gun ownership does not translate into high level of crime taking that many of the countries with low gun ownership have much bigger problems.

  • dudette


    This is like 52nd time that you’re raising this issue up on your blog.

    Out of ideas?

  • mog

    “someone suggests I get a brain.”

    It’d be a nice change. You never know, you might even enjoy it.

  • winter “Yea, Proton Power, now in remission”

    “It’s effectively illegal to use firearms for self-defense in Finland.”

    Huh, so someone is breaking down your front door, your colt 45 is on the top shelf, and you can’t plug the guy?

    Look, it is a shame, you all let criminals off so easy. We had a breakin at the camp ground, and when word spread, the guy was pinned down between two houses, in a shooting match.

    Nice to know my neighbors are such poor shots. The guy gave up to the first patrol car he saw.

  • winter “Yea, Proton Power, now in remission”

    I noticed some signs in the water with numbers as I sailed out of the creek.

    Asked the local, what that was. He said, that the don’t stop, or you get shot zone. He was serious.

    Turned out it is markers for farmed oyster beds, and yes they do unload on you if you are seen there.

  • fairness

    If someone wants a gun, they should have the right to own one.
    Hard to haver another human being dictate who shall have guns and who shall not. I like guns and I own 11 of them. from 9 mm to pump shot gun. I love shooting and i love the art of guns. If you don’t ? don’t own one. I also own a compound bow and love it. Do I hunt ? nope. I don’t like killing animals when i could just go to a supermarket. If I need to hunt. NP for food. All in all, If I’m a good guy. I would let mini nazi dictators like many tell me I can’t have a gun. Them there are fighting words ;-)

  • prince of dorkness

    Long guns are inconvenient to carry around. A sawed-off is illegal so it makes no sense to get a license for a shotgun if you want one (buying a sawed-off illegally is more like it).
    If you want to sports shoot, you need a place, i.e. a gun club (unless you live in the sticks and own enough land for a range of your own).

  • Punter

    #37- Granted. My point is simply that there are legal ways in which to acquire a gun. Once you have it, there is no reason that you will always follow the reasoning behind your application. You may well state a reason ie hunting or sports shooting in order to get it but the primary reason behind having the firearm may be more sinister. Visit the range to maintain yur accuracy while planning or dreaming of using it for other purposes.
    As for sawn offs, they were all bought originally as legal, long barrel weapons. In fact if that was the weapon of choice for me I would sooner buy the weapon legally myself and do the cutting myself avoiding dealing with the types selling such weapons. Unless there is a yearly inspection of your firearms (gun katsastus) which there isn’t, how on earth would the authorities know that my once legal hunting gun is now a sawn off people hunting gun? To think such things don’t happen is to think all guns are used responsibly by owners and never used in crime. If that was the case then this conversation wouldn’t be happening.

  • prince of dorkness

    You need not have any sinister ideas when you get the gun. People change. A guy who inhales enough paint thinners (real men are not afraid of stuff like that) is no longer the stable, reasonable guy who could be trusted with a firearm, but as long as he’s committed no crime the cops are unlikely to disarm him, even if his ex begs them to…

  • Firepower

    Guns are not the the cause to gun related fatalities in US, the problem is that there are so many social/cultural problems in the country. I think tighter gun control should be in place until other problems have been solved (which will never happend ;) So I repeat: Guns are not the problem, but the peoplea are, so by restricting weapons people only help themselves.

  • Punter

    #39- So true Prince, so sad but true.

  • Dansc


    I think you don’t really understand exactly how difficult it actually is to legally buy a gun in Finland. If it’s for hunting, you have to belong to a hunting club and have passed a hunter’s test. If it’s for range shooting, you have to belong to a shooting club (I’m not sure if there’s a test involved here as well, but I wouldn’t be surprised).

    I personally think that a big part of the Finnish weapons are old hunting weapons people once bought when they got excited about hunting, and then when they lost interest in the hobby, the gun just got forgotten. I know my father has a hunting shotgun and ammo in the attic, and he hasn’t hunted in over a decade.

    I do agree, though, that people may just flip out, and in these cases guns are of course really dangerous. My former uncle-in-law used to own a security company. One night he was drinking with his friend while in uniform, snapped for an unknown reason, pulled out his service gun and shot his friend dead. These things happen. Who could explain it?

  • Punter

    Sorry to rain on your party Dansc but I AM PERFECTLY AWARE OF THE PROCEDURES AND TESTS FOR BUYING A RIFLE IN FINLAND. Thanks for your concern but really, it’s as easy to but the weapon legally as it was for your uncle-in-law to end his friend’s life. BTW, how is he doing? Enjoying life in the big house is he?

  • Mindbreaker

    GUNS DO NOT KILL PEOPLE! PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE! The ammount of people getting killed USA starts to decrease only when they start to build a nation of conscience insted of nation of freedom.

  • James Kirk

    Sweden has the most beautiful women in the world, much better looking than Finnish women, blah! Swedes are so god damn friendly and polite. Fuck yeah! I love Sweden!

    Two countries which really are at the bottom of the barrel are America and Finland.

    Oh by the way, you have to a sociopath to kill someone with or without using a firearm or any weapon including hands.

    Use your time constructively and visit Sweden. Best experience you could have.

  • James Kirk

    P.S. I hate your blog. It’s useless information and depressing.
    Go eat a banana and watch the “Odd Couple”.

  • http://none B.G.O.

    First off, to get a “submachinegun” in the US legally, you have to go through a lot of checks. Most of the automatic weapons here are illegal and are smuggled in(gee what a surprise). Don’t be deceived by people who say gun violence is XXmany. Unless it differentiates between legal and illegal weapons, it covers police shootings and such as well making the stats meaningless. None of the people who do get it legally is not going to take a chance using it illegally. If you were reading this with an intelligent eye, you would notice it DOES say what the percentage is, it is 59%. Most gun crimes in the US are done with ILLEGAL guns, not by people who are going to get them legally.Not only that but if you do have firearms legally, you try very hard not to commit a felon(serious crime) as you then lose your right to own them. In my case I have 13 weapons(firearms). I am more careful to not break the law so I don’t lose my weapons. They confiscate them(take) and they don’t give you the money for them. I can also kill some just as fast with my hands. If someone intent on hurting my family, and I don’t protect them at the time it happens, who will? Unless I have a cop here for dinner, they will not get here before 5 shots can be fired and my family is dead. I will, maybe, give up my weapons when they have police that can be fit in a pocket. So if you want to get into a pi**ing contest, you best know your facts. By the way, in the US, if a toy gun is used in a crime, it is still counted as gun violence!

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