Why did the stance of Swedish MEPs soften during the last weeks regarding Firearms Directive? Why did Sweden approve the Compromise of the European Council? Again strings lead to the Swedish Police, to Peter Thorsell, his former collegues Hänniger and Tonnemann and others, like Doris Högne Rydheim, Rector of the Police Academy, and Liberals and Greens.
We are killing sport shooting. But we do not think it needs to be done tomorrow. They have licenses for five years now. And we think that we let them a little longer transitional period, perhaps five-year transition period for changing interest, to find a new sport. But we are killing the sport, she says.
Green MEP Bodil Valero praised herself for her defeat
A couple of weeks ago the Swedish MP in the European Parliament, Bodil Valero (Green Party), wrote in the newspaper Gefle Dagblad about the negotiations in LIBE and expressed her satisfaction with the comprises achieved. However she is completely incomprehensive regarding the criticisms she has received from law-abiding gun owners here in Sweden. On the contrary she claims that the Greens have safeguarded the interests of hunters and competition shooters in the negotiations in Brussels.
Anyone being an avid hunter or competition shooter will on the contrary find Valero’s stance as something of a matter of a cover up and rather find her position a way of taking credit of the work of the MEPs Cristoffer Fjellner and Maria Corazza-Bildt, both representing the Conservatives. The latter two have definitely stood up for our interests in Brussels.
Valero: avid proponent for the interests of Swedish police
For instance the position of changing the law regarding magazines for firearms in order make it necessary to have an individual permit for magazines as well as restrictions regarding magazine capacity. Furthermore Valero also supports the EU-Commission´s stance on mental tests when applying for a gun permit.
However we already have a similar law in Sweden in which depression and mental illnesses must be reported to the Police by MDs. A person who applies for a gun permit in Sweden also undergo a thorough background check by the Police before any permit is approved. Hence the Commission´s and Valero´s proposal serves no additional function. On the contrary it would further complicate a process that is already in a state of crisis in Sweden.
Swedish Police caused bankruptcy of gun dealers
Virtually hundreds of formal complaints have been filed against the Swedish Police regarding gun permits in the latest couple of years. Well renowned gun retailers, like Småländska Vapen, have even filed for bankruptcy after 91 years in the business since firearms worth millions of crowns cannot be delivered to customers. This since in the case of Småländska Vapen and Jaktia, the waiting time for a permit from the Police in the district have reached 23 weeks, not the stipulated 30 days.
A familiar agenda of old
This and examples mentioned in part 1 of this article follows a pattern for anyone who is familiar with these questions. It is part of a long agenda initiated amongst activists within the Swedish Police. The activists are well aware that legal firearms are not a problem in Sweden nor in the EU.
In Sweden there are approximately 619,000 legal gun owners along with 1.8 million licenses. But during the period 2000-2010 only one to two weapons of legal origin have been annually misused for serious crimes ( « Firearms used in crimes in Sweden 2000-2010, » Hagelin 2012).
The agenda is however as far as it is possible without a too big of a political outcry to disarm the public. The agenda is really no secret, since the highly biased stance of the Police is quite open to the public as could be seen in an article in Dagens Nyheter by Peter Thorsell, the official responsible not only regarding firearms at the Police authorities in Sweden but also part of the Swedish negotiation staff in Brussels.
In this vehemently criticized article Thorsell was outspoken of the need to ban semiautomatic rifles like AR15 used in ISPC Rifle since these rifles “..were far too powerful to be in civilian hands”. For more examples of Thorsells behavior in these matters see part 1 of this story.
Unfortunately, the Swedish Police has more or less been given carte blanche by the latest Swedish governments to do as they please. In 2013 the Police made an attempt to bypass the Swedish constitution in an official governmental suggestion by among other things proposing a ban on civilian ownership of Carl Gustav m/45 submachinegun, more known internationally as the Swedish K. It is used by a small number of highly skilled competition shooters in Sweden with links to the Swedish Armed Forces. It is considered of great value for the defense capability by the Armed Forces whom to a great extent rely upon the civilian organization for training. This is something that the Swedish Armed Forces also explicitly wrote in their official consultation response both then as well as now regarding the EU-Commission´s proposal for a new European firearms directive.
Rydheim: « Competition shooting isn´t a sport »
Responsible for the 2013 governmental suggestion was Doris Högne Rydheim, herself a member of Rikspolisstyrelsen, the National Board of the Police and Director of the Police Academy in Solna, Stockholm. She publically said on national tv before she began the governmental suggestion:
“Competition shooting isn´t a sport. Ice hockey is a sport.”
Her investigation Tightening of firearms legislation proposing not just stricter penalties for serious gun crimes (which would be welcomed), but also total prohibitions of certain weapons with certain types of magazines, which prevents a number of forms of sport shooting.
No wonder that the governmental suggestion was highly biased and became extremely criticized in Sweden. A ban regarding for instance the m/45 did not materialize as the Police had hoped.
Swedish Police and the EU-Commission
However if the National Parliament was reluctant to oblige the activists within Police there was the European Commission to turn to – which Thorsell also did. The Swedish Commissioner Cecilia Malmström (Liberal) made an equally criticized attempt in Brussels to no avail. Still, the activists in the Swedish Police bided their time.
The Italian EU Commissioner Fabio Marini, well known in Europe for his “anti gun stance” received expert assistance in his “Task Force” by Lars Henriksson from the Swedish Police. Thus the Swedish Police had a direct channel for their agenda into the EU-Commission. As we now know the EU-Commission presented is proposal for a new European Firearms Directive just five days after the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris last year.
However the focus of the directive was more or less entirely upon legal firearms. The attacks would thus serve as the correct climate to push through an agenda which the EU-Commission well knew would not remedy the actual firearms related problems in Europe. As we all know the problems concerns illegal firearms and badly deactivated legal firearms for which there already is a EU directive that however has not been implemented. “Due to the urgency” the need for analyses regarding consequences was disregarded by the EU-Commission as well. Understandably a storm of criticism arose among law abiding European gun owners.
At the same time back home in Sweden the Government appointed Peter Thorsell as their expert in order to assist at the negotiations in Brussels. The Swedish interests were represented in the EU by Nils Hänninger, the General Counsel at the Swedish Department of Justice.
According to information leaked from GENVAL it seemed apparent however that Hänninger did not represent the mandate of the Swedish Parliament, rather the stance of the Swedish Police and the EU-Commission.
By chance the mentioned Hänninger is a former colleague of Thorsell, from the days when they both served in the Police in Dalarna County. Any disqualification due to this or due to fact that Thorsell had written the official consultation for the Swedish Police regarding the suggestion from the EU-Commission was not apparent according to Thorsell’s chief administrate officer Lars Tonneman. He was – due to the official consultation – the official one from the Swedish Police, not Thorsell personally. As such it was perfectly fine that Thorsell was appointed the official expert of the Swedish Government, nota bene by request of Hänninger, with the mandate to participate in the negotiations in Brussels. By pure coincidence Tonneman is also a former colleague of both Hänninger and Thorsell from the days in the Police in Dalarna County.
Of the 1500 pages of information sent between Hänninger and Thorsell only 200 were made public according to the Act of Openness Principle before all of them were defined as sensitive information due to State Security.
IM Anders Ygman: Ban for “the most dangerous” weapons
The Minister of Interior, Anders Ygeman (Socialdemocrat) at first said through his press secretary that they “didn’t agree” with what the leaked Concil’s documents showed. While Ygeman claiming this, he told media that “the most dangerous” weapons should be banned, and that Sweden and the European Commission “are in agreement on most things”.
While Ygeman also claimed that no ban on semi-automatic weapons had been proposed, a recent email puts an end to all these mixed signals. The email from Anders Ygeman’s press secretary Victor Harju clearly states that Sweden has in fact proposed a ban for some rifles used for sport shooting. No wonder Ygeman has refrained from mentioning sportshooters in the media.
Now it seems as if Ygeman has changed tactics somewhat and claims that his and Hänningers actions are within the mandate of the Parliament. Why then classify the information between Hänninger and Thorsell as sensitive information due to State Security? The criticism against the officials appointed by the Government that has been brought forth by the political opposition, foremost by Sten Bergheden (Conservative), has been met with total incomprehension by the Swedish Government.
MEPs softended their stance because of lies
Ultimately it was the far right party Sweden Democrats that filed an official complaint regarding Minister of Interior Anders Ygeman and Minister of Justice Morgan Johansson to the Constitutional Commitee.
In a conversation on Twitter last week with Caroline Szyber (Christian Democrat) it came into light why the opposition suddenly had become willing to compromise in their stance of defense of law abiding civilian ownership of semiautomatic firearms.
The opposition delegates in both the Committee of Justice and the EU Committee had been given information that it were legal civilian sportshooting firearms that had been used in terrorist attacks in Paris, not deactivated firearms that had been re-converted.
When asked who supplied this information to the MPs it became clear that it came from Minister of Justice Morgan Johansson who´s document had been written by Peter Thorsell from the Swedish Police who – as we know – is an avid supporter of the EU-Commission’s proposal.
The most critical official consultation responses, for instance from the Swedish Defence Forces, had been left out in order to convince the MPs of a more unanimous support for a ban of semiautomatic firearms. A case of blatant political activism from a civil servant.
Valero and Ygeman don’t seem to grasp why law abiding Swedish gun owners are furious in the light of this evident foul play. IPSC shooters have even been labelled to be “expendable” by the Minister of Interior since this type of competition shooting “is on the margin” according to Ygeman, even though he is well aware that a ban on for instance AR15 will not affect what the EU Commission officially has set out to amend.
In Swedish criminal history not one firearm used in ISPC has been stolen or used in criminal activities. Hence we are dealing with a classic case of Symbol Politics.
However the rot is not simply confined to the EU, to paraphrase Hamlet: “-Something is rotten in the Kingdom of Sweden”, and that rot has apparently spread to Brussels and in other countries.