Gun violence in Sweden

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Gun violence in Sweden (Swedish: skjutningar or gängskjutningar, "gang shootings") increased steeply among males aged 15 to 29 in the two decades prior to 2015, in addition to a rising trend in gun violence there was also a high rate of gun violence in Sweden compared to other countries in Western Europe.[1]

Gun violence started increasing in the mid 2000s and increased more rapidly from 2013 onwards. This sets Sweden apart from most other countries in Europe where there instead has been a decline in gun homicides. In its 2021 report on the phenomenon, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention did not analyse the reasons for the trend that occurred in Sweden. Most of the increase is related to gang violence in vulnerable areas in Sweden which are areas with higher crime rates, low income and education, and a large immigrant population.[2]


Gun violence deaths in Sweden 2006–2020[3][4]
Number of shooting incidents with wounded 2010–2015, per city in the Nordic countries[5]
Confirmed shootings and wounded 2017-2020[4]

By 2021, gun violence by organized crime had increased tenfold since the early 1990s.[6]

According to a report published by academic researchers in 2017, shooting incidents with fatal outcomes are about 4 to 5 times as common in Sweden compared to neighbouring countries such as Germany and Norway when taking population size into account. The city with the highest prevalence of shootings was Malmö. The grave violence in the studied period also changed character, from criminal motorcycle gangs to city suburbs.[7][8] Sweden also stands out in having a low resolution rate (25%) for gun homicides compared to Germany and Finland at 90%.[8]

In January 2018, police statistics reported an increase in gun homicides from 8 in 2006 to 43 in 2017.[9] Analysis of 2011–2017 gang warfare showed that there were 1500 incidents involving firearms, 131 people had been killed and 520 injured.[10]

In February 2018, criminologist Jerzy Sarnecki stated in an interview with magazine Forskning & Framsteg that the increasing levels of gun crime in Sweden had taken him, Swedish criminologists in general and police in Sweden by surprise. He characterised the recent developments as "very serious".[11]

A 2018 systematic review of 25 studies on firearm violence in Sweden by criminologist and physician Ardavan Khoshnood, concluded "that even though knives/sharp weapons continue to be the most common MO in a violent crime in Sweden, firearm-related violence is significantly increasing in the country and foremost when discussing gang-related crimes. Moreover, firearm-related homicides and attempted homicides are increasing in the country. The studies also show that a firearm is much more lethal than a knife/sharp weapon... It is principally the three largest cities of Sweden which are affected by the many shootings in recent years."[12]

According to researcher Amir Rostami at Stockholm University, police statistics for January–November 2018 showed that the number of shootings was at a continued high rate at 274, where up until the end of November 42 people had been shot and killed and 129 wounded compared to 43 in 2017.

In 2020 there were 366 incidents of shootings in Sweden where 47 people were killed and 117 were wounded, which represented a 10% increase on the previous year. About half the shooting resulting in killings took place in so-called vulnerable areas and represented an increase on the preceding year.[13][14]

In 2021, Sweden was found to have the 2nd highest gun homicide rate (after Croatia) out of 22 European countries surveyed. Most other countries surveyed had instead experienced a decline in gun homicides.[2][15]

According to researcher Amir Rostami in 2021, those responsible for the gun violence are predominantly young men and often second generation immigrants.[16]

By 2023 gun violence in Sweden had risen to 2.5 times the European average. Most of the violence continued to be attributable to an influx of guns, drug dealing, and marginalized immigrant communities.[17]

Innocent bystanders[edit]

According to police in 2018, at least nine people who were innocent bystanders had been killed in cross-fire incidents in the last few years and the risk to the public was therefore rising.[18]

In 2017, Minister for Justice Morgan Johansson stated in an interview that the risk to "innocent people" was small.[19]

In the 2011–2020 period 46 bystanders had been killed or wounded in 36 shooting incidents. Of these, 8 were under the age of 15. According to researcher Joakim Sturup, a contributing factor could be the increased use of automatic firearms.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sturup, Joakim; Rostami, Amir; Mondani, Hernan; Gerell, Manne; Sarnecki, Jerzy; Edling, Christofer (7 May 2018). "Increased Gun Violence Among Young Males in Sweden: a Descriptive National Survey and International Comparison". European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research. 25 (4): 365–378. doi:10.1007/s10610-018-9387-0. hdl:2043/25999. ISSN 0928-1371.
  2. ^ a b "Dödligt skjutvapenvåld har ökat i Sverige, men inte i övriga Europa - Brottsförebyggande rådet". (in Swedish). Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  3. ^ "Siffrorna visar: Kraftig ökning av dödsskjutningar". SVT Nyheter (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 20 January 2018. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Sprängningar och skjutningar | Polismyndigheten" (PDF). (in Swedish). Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  5. ^ "Svenske politifolk frykter at de taper kampen mot kriminelle". NRK (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Utredningstiderna för mord ökar - Nyheter (Ekot)". Sveriges Radio (in Swedish). Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  7. ^ Radio, Sveriges. "Fler skjutningar i Sverige än i många andra länder - P4 Stockholm". Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Studie: Fler skjutningar i Sverige än i många andra länder - DN.SE". DN.SE (in Swedish). 5 September 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  9. ^ Nyheter, SVT. "Siffrorna visar: Kraftig ökning av dödsskjutningar". SVT Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Aftonbladets granskning avslöjar: 131 döda – över 450 skottskadade". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Läget är jävligt allvarligt". Forskning & Framsteg (in Swedish). Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  12. ^ Khoshnood, Ardavan (2018). "Firearm-related violence in Sweden – A systematic review". Aggression and Violent Behavior. 42: 43–51. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2018.07.008. ISSN 1359-1789. S2CID 149606874.
  13. ^ a b Frenker, Clarence (29 December 2020). "Ny högstanivå för antalet skjutningar i Sverige 2020". SVT Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 3 January 2021.
  14. ^ Selåker Hangasmaa, Karin (1 February 2021). "Damberg: Skjutningarna ökade med 10 procent". SVT Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  15. ^ "Brå: Sverige hade näst högst nivå av dödsskjutningar i Europa". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  16. ^ "Schwedens Banden-Problem". (in German). Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  17. ^ Rasmussen, Sune Engel. "How Peaceful Sweden Became Europe's Gun-Murder Capital". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 May 2023.
  18. ^ "Polisen: Risken att oskyldiga skjuts till döds har ökat". Metro (in Swedish). Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Justitieministern: Liten risk att oskyldiga drabbas". Expressen TV (in Swedish). Retrieved 17 January 2021.