Anders Behring Breivik is a name that will be remembered in infamy in Norway's future history. The deranged killer with a face worthy of a Hollywood's leading man murdered more than 70 completely innocent people, from teens to older adults. He is supposedly a member of the far right in the political spectrum of his country, reminding us of another crazed killer, Jared Lee Loughner, who attacked Congresswoman Giffords in Arizona last January. Breivik claims that he acted to defend Christendom, though no sane mind can understand how killing Norwegians can help this religion.
Norway has been voted the nation with the highest standard of living in the world; if one had to choose where to live, this kingdom is the favorite. The discovery of large gas and oil deposits in offshore exploration has made Norway a rich nation, where citizens are protected from birth to the grave by a generous government. With less than 5 million inhabitants, Sweden's main neighbor has undergone several invasions throughout its history, the last one during WWII when it suffered under Nazi occupation. Its high standard of living allows us to understand why Norway refused to join the EU (European Union) on two occasions, a decision that seems prescient given the financial turmoil now occurring in Greece and other countries. In that regard, the comparison with Switzerland is inevitable, as the Swiss also enjoy prosperous economic times outside the EU (The Swiss franc is now the strongest currency in Europe).
One wonders how this crazy killing machine obtained his weapons; Norway's gun laws are generous, as they allow almost anything outside of automatic weapons. It is a nation of hunters and most families own some kind of rifle and/or handgun. Breivik and Loughner had no trouble purchasing a handgun despite their obvious checkered past. In the U.S. we've had our share of deranged killers: Virginia Tech comes to mind. Do these tragic events mean that we should demand a psychological test for anybody who wants to own a firearm? Unfortunately, these mind probes are totally unreliable since even experts in psychiatry squabble in open court as to what constitutes madness. We would be better off asking for a complete personal history for every candidate or, even better, prohibiting the sale of handguns. They are, after all, much easier to conceal.
We will never prevent senseless killings completely, but at least we can make an effort to establish much stricter controls on those who purchase a weapon. The NRA (National Rifle Association) in our country has a very effective lobby that has stymied all efforts to prevent the sale of powerful rifles and handguns, pretexting the need to observe the Bill of Rights. They forget that 250 years ago, citizens had more primitive firearms and needed them to repel aggression by invading enemies. Nowadays, it simply does not make sense to allow the sale of a 50 caliber sniper rifle, a weapon so powerful that it can kill anything at a thousand years. Where is the hunting fairness in that? There is even a 50 caliber handgun that can penetrate the body armor worn by police. And they are completely legal. What kind of society have we become? We make it possible for bad guys to kill cops from more than a thousand yards and justify its legal approval by using the nauseating argument that the Founders of this country allowed its citizens to wear arms. When will we see a politician with the courage to ban these types of weapons once and for all?