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Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A tradition that went sour

In a shocking afternoon, chaos was spread all over a country that so far was not known for massive killings. Killings that reminded of Columbine in the US - if you have not seen Michael Moore's documentary do so.
Finnland was known for Santa Claus, Nokia, its fishermen, some turkish sounding villages, its high suicide rate, its quiet people and in general all the cliches that apply to a nordic country.
What was not known for is that it is the third country in the world with the highest civilian gun ownership (1.6m guns, first two are the USA and Yemen). A 15 year old can buy and own a gun provided there is parental concern.
All guns must be accompanied by a license. The answer is simple you might say: Stop giving kids guns. Well, yes agreed. But I am Greek and with the same nobrainer attitude I could also ask a Brit why do they need royalty? "Tradition" would the answer be. So would be for gun ownership in Finland. The hunting lobby in the country is among the strongest, and there is strong tradition in family bonding hunting excursions in the dark cold north Finnish woods.
However the killing yesterday, second to an equally appauling high-school massacre by an 18-year old last year, makes country population to start reconsidering.
Now, the question is whether the government will afford to take the huge political cost of abolishing this liberal attitude in gun ownership or whether they will just send condolences to the victim families. Remains to be seen.
There is also another issue that arises from the latest unfortunate massive killing statistics. Finland was one of the top countries in suicide. Mainly due to depression. Mainly during winter months, for semi-obvious reasons. The winter is just starting and Finland has at least another 8 months to go.
Tradition is good only when it serves the community. It would be stupid to stick to it while people die. Fullstop.

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