Sweden continues to see a rise in the number of fatal shootings and attempted murders, with illegal weapons becoming more common throughout the country.
According to the Swedish National Forensic Centre, the number of shooting murders and attempted murders have doubled since 2012, leading to an increased demand for weapons investigations, Swedish broadcaster SVT reports.
Mikael Högfors, group manager at National Forensic Centre, commented on the rise saying, “The availability of weapons in Sweden is relatively good. We see that due to the number of shootings. But we also make several efforts within the police authority when we have investigations underway, where we actually hunt down the weapons.”
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Over the more than 300 shootings in Sweden in 2017, the most common firearm used was by far the Kalashnikov pattern rifle, according to Högfors.
“It is one of the world’s most manufactured weapons and has been used in many wars. When they are no longer needed they are smuggled into Sweden,” he said.
Many of the riffles, along with hand grenades and other weapons, are originally from the Balkan region. Last year, Bosnian prosecutor Goran Glamocanin claimed that Sweden had become one of the largest markets for such illegal weapons from the region.
“According to the information we have now, the Swedish market is the most attractive in Europe. It is because of the high demand,” he said.
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While 2017 saw over 300 shootings, last year saw a record number of fatal shootings with around 45 individuals murdered with firearms.
Looking into the motivation for the high number of shootings, most of which are linked to the country’s gang-crime scene, the Swedish Crime Prevention Council (Brå) found that fatal shootings had become a status symbol among the gangs.
“Today, there is a need for greater violence to build their reputation. More violence is needed to achieve a certain effect,” said Brå investigator Erik Nilsson.