A teenager who called himself “a natural predator” shot and killed seven of his classmates and the principal inside a public high school in Finland yesterday, one day after posting a video on YouTube in which he foreshadowed a massacre, reports the Washington Post. The midday attack, which ended with the 18-year-old gunman taking his own life, jolted this Scandinavian country of 5.3 million people. A nation of hunters and sportsmen, Finland has the third-highest rate of firearm ownership in the world. Gun-related crimes are extremely rare, and Finnish schools have never seen the need to take security measures that have become common in the U.S.
A local police chief said the shooter belonged to a gun club and had received a pistol license Oct. 19. The Post quoted local residents as saying that the deaths would ignite a debate on gun ownership and regulations in Finland, which has more firearms per capita than any country except the United States and Yemen. Finns as young as 15 can apply for a gun license. The federal government has resisted efforts by the European Union to raise the minimum age to 18.