Police in Iceland have shot dead a 59-year-old man who fired a shotgun at them—a tragic event in any country, but an unprecedented one for the island nation, which attained independence in 1944. The incident is believed to be the first time anybody has ever been shot and killed by police in Iceland, where gun ownership is not uncommon among the population of 322,000 but police do not carry firearms, the BBC reports. Police say they were called to the man's Reykjavik apartment after he fired a shotgun inside. After he failed to respond to attempts to contact him, they fired tear gas through the windows. He was shot dead when he fired at police trying to enter the apartment, injuring two officers.
"All available members of the police force were deployed, and they tried to subdue him, but it was not successful," the city's police commissioner says, extending his condolences to the man's family. "The man began to shoot out the window of the apartment and it was decided to take action." Iceland ranks 15th in the world for gun ownership per capita, with 30.3 firearms per 100 people—the US is first with 101.05 firearms per 100 people—but ownership is strictly controlled and most people who own guns use them for hunting or sport, NPR finds. There were four recorded gun-related deaths in the country in 2009; that's 31,343 fewer than the US saw.