The last few years have seen a significant increase in the use of hand grenades for violent crimes in Sweden. The police have responded to several gang-related incidents involving grenades, including two grenades thrown into a nightclub in May, 2015 and a grenade exploding inside a restaurant in April, 2016. In January of this year, a Stockholm man was killed and another woman injured when he picked up a grenade that had been discarded to the side. In October of last year, a hand grenade went off outside a police station in Helsingborg, blowing out forty windows.
In 2015, policed confiscated 45 grenades; that number increased in 2016 to 55, and down to 43 in 2017. Over these three years, 66 have been detonated. While grenades seem to be more popular among criminal organizations, there doesn’t seem to be one that uses them over another. The tactical advantage of a grenade is obvious — it allows the aggressor to dump and run, like a hit and run, without much risk to himself. It is easy to conceal and easy to operate without drawing much attention to the thrower. It can be thrown around corners, over walls and out of a car window with a casual toss. By definition, the grenade eliminates much of the evidence that would incriminate the perpetrator as it explodes.
The more common choice among Swedish criminals seems to be the Yugoslavian M75 hand grenade, generally built for enclosed spaces like trenches or bunkers, but still effective in open environments. They typically hold somewhere around 3,000 balls of steel, providing a kill radius of approximately 15 meters and a casualty radius of 30-54 meters. Once the pin is pulled and the spoon departs from the body, the fuse is activated and will burn for approximately 3 to 4.4 seconds.
This is the same type of grenade that was used in England in September, 2012, which killed Police Constables Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone.
Authorities believe that the M75s are being smuggled in from countries to the south, and that they may have been leftover from the Bosnian War (1992-1995), which was a part of the breakup of Yugoslavia.
To combat these attacks, the Swedish government has tightened their smuggling restrictions. They have clarified several issues regarding the smuggling of explosives, though even if that proves effective, it won’t address the grenades in the country. To combat that, the police are attempting to push an amnesty period — several months in which people can opt to turn in their grenades without legal repercussions.
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The gun laws in Sweden are tight, but it’s certainly possible to acquire them. After testing and qualifying, a person could conceivably get an automatic weapon. However, when it comes to carrying a weapon on one’s person:
It is illegal for a civilian in Sweden to carry a firearm, unless for a specific, legal purpose;such as hunting or attending shooting ranges. To transport firearms, there are rules to adhere to;the general regulations are that the gun must be unloaded, hidden and transported in a safe and secure way under supervision.”
Read more about Sweden’s gun laws here.
Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Public Domain Pictures.