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Gun-loving Iceland hasn’t had a shooting murder since 2007

Garðarsson hopes to finish the tests and start practicing his aim in time for winter.

“In my girlfriend’s family, there’s a tradition to eat ptarmigan for Christmas ,” he says, referring to the small bird native to northern Europe, Canada and Alaska. “Now, finally, we can be the ones that bring the bird to the table.”

Iceland’s modern peace contrasts with the violent past of this land of fire and ice.

Gun-loving Iceland hasn’t had a shooting murder since 2007
Gun-loving Iceland hasn’t had a shooting murder since 2007

It sits on the shifting boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, formed by spewing lava and carved by colossal glaciers.

It was first settled by Norwegian Viking outlaws in the 9th century, but plagues, volcanic eruptions and inhospitable weather meant it has remained one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth.

And like many countries in Europe, most police here are unarmed.

Only specialist units, like the Viking Squad, Iceland’s version of a SWAT team, can carry guns and even then, they are kept in locked boxes that require senior approval to open.

Since the Icelandic police was established in 1803, its officers have only shot and killed one person. This was in 2013, and afterward the police chief, Haraldur Johannessen, said he was “deeply saddened” and apologized to the victim’s family.

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