The level of homicide in Sweden ranks very high in relation to other European countries. Most countries in the EU have seen a decline in lethal violence, both specifically in relation to guns and generally.
The decline has been most marked in countries that used to have the highest levels of homicide (the Baltic states, western Balkan, Finland and Central Europe), thus harmonizing previous differences between countries. There has also been a similar marked and continuous decline in the rest of the Nordic countries and Western Europe, albeit from initially lower levels.
There is no clear reason why homicides have increased more in Sweden than in other countries. Deciding factors that are often associated with an increase in homicides (for instance illegal markets for drugs and guns, socioeconomic conditions as well as factors related to immigration and ethnic diversity) are also prevalent in other countries, but without the development in homicides. One possible explanation is that the Swedish development is caused by a certain group dynamic, whereby shootings have come to precipitate one another. Research has shown that a shooting incident in Sweden is often soon followed by another shooting, in or close to the same area. Just why this dynamic should have emerged solely in Sweden remains unclear however, particularly as international studies have shown that there are other countries in Europe that have growing problems with gang violence. This is true for Belgium and the Netherlands for instance, but Denmark and Spain can also be singled out.
Gun homicide in Sweden and other European countries (Brå report 2021:8)
Lethal violence in Sweden 1990–2017 (Brå report 2019:6)
Near-repeat shootings in contemporary Sweden 2011 to 2015 (Security Journal, vol. 31, 2018)
Open drug markets, vulnerable neighbourhoods and gun violence in two Swedish cities (Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, vol. 16, 2021)