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World Sweden’s gun violence rates have soared. But this Swedish city is bucking that trend.

01:40  11 june  2021
01:40  11 june  2021 Source:   pri.org

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Glen Sjögren has been a police officer in Malmö, in southern Sweden, for over 40 years.

a man standing in front of a store: Glen Sjögren, a 40-year police officer in Malmö, Sweden, says he was surprised by a recent report showing the rate of gun violence in the country has gone up. His city has been successful in recent years in tackling gangs and gun violence.   © Courtesy of Glen Sjögren

Glen Sjögren, a 40-year police officer in Malmö, Sweden, says he was surprised by a recent report showing the rate of gun violence in the country has gone up. His city has been successful in recent years in tackling gangs and gun violence.

He says the worst era for crime in his tenure was a handful of years ago. A cluster of high-profile shootings in 2016 and 2017 and persistent problems with gang violence earned the city a bad reputation.

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In the last three years, though, things have changed.

The number of fatal shootings in Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, dropped from 65 in 2017, to 20 last year, and the trend remains steady so far in 2021.

In this way, the city is bucking a disturbing national trend: Sweden’s gun violence rates have soared in recent years, according to a new report by the country’s national council for crime prevention (Brå).

a close up of a man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Swedish crime analyst Björn Wegner says it’s clear that gun use has become more of the norm among gangs in recent years, but there is little explanation why. Courtesy of Björn Wegner © Courtesy of Björn Wegner Swedish crime analyst Björn Wegner says it’s clear that gun use has become more of the norm among gangs in recent years, but there is little explanation why. Courtesy of Björn Wegner

The country has gone from having one of the lowest rates of gun violence in Europe to one of the highest in less than a decade, the report says.

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“The rate in Sweden ranks very high in relation to other European countries, at approximately four deaths per million inhabitants per year. The average for Europe is approximately 1.6 deaths per million inhabitants,” the report says.

“None of the other countries included in the study have experienced comparable increases,” it adds.

Sweden’s increase in gun violence is driven mainly by organized criminal gangs.

Swedish crime analyst Björn Wegner says it’s clear that gun use has become more of the norm among gangs in recent years, but there is little explanation why.

Gun ownership in Sweden is much lower than in the United States, and the rules around acquiring a gun are stricter. Wegner says most of the weapons used by Swedish gangs are illegally sourced.

Listen to find out more about the challenging situation in Sweden.

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