Farewell to Arms: Norway on Verge of Semi-Automatic Weapons Ban

Farewell to Arms: Norway on Verge of Semi-Automatic Weapons Ban
AP Photo/ Elaine ThompsonEurope01:27 28.02.2018Get short URL



After 10 years of wrangling, Norway is on the verge of passing a ban on semi-automatic firearms. The ban became popular after the deaths of 69 people in a 2011 shooting, but was delayed because of the popularity of shooting sports and hunting in the Scandinavian nation.

The minority right-wing government in the Storting, the Norwegian Parliament, presented the current proposed ban last year. “Today, it has become clear that there is a parliamentary majority in favour of the government’s proposal. Semi-automatic weapons will therefore be banned in Norway,” Peter Frolich, a Conservative member of the Storting’s committee on judicial affairs, told AFP.

The date and specifics of the vote have not yet been unveiled.

Currently, gun ownership in Norway requires a documented use for the gun, a clean criminal record, and the completion of a sports shooting or hunting training program. Automatic weapons are banned entirely, save for those with collectors’ licenses.

But the popularity of hunting, sports shooting and collecting make Norway a country with a relatively high number of firearms per capita. Only Finland, Switzerland and, of course, the US, have more guns per capita among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

Newspaper Norwegian America reported that 139,000 people went hunting in the 2014 season, or about 2.6 percent of the Norway’s population. It isn’t clear how the new law will affect these hunters.

If true, the ban will come a full decade after the bloodiest incident in Norway since the end of World War II. Anders Behring Breivik, a right-wing extremist motivated by a hatred of the “cultural suicide” of Europe brought on by Islam, feminism and “cultural Marxism,” killed 77 people across two incidents on one day in July 2011.

The first attack targeted a government building in Oslo that housed the offices of the prime minister and the minister of justice of police, among others. Eight people were killed and 12 others seriously wounded.

The second was far more horrific. Breivik took a ferry to an island hosting a summer camp for the youth wing of the Norwegian Labour Party, the country’s largest left-wing party. Shouting “You are going to die today, Marxists,” Breivik opened fire on the crowd of teenagers, killing 69 and wounding 66 with a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic carbine and a Glock 34 semi-automatic pistol. He surrendered to police without a fight.

Breivik procured both of his weapons legally, as he had no previous criminal record other than being fined for spraying graffiti as a teenager. He also had no record of mental unwellness prior to his arrest and examination. Although some examiners determined Breivik to suffer from paranoid schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, the court ultimately ruled him sane.

Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in prison in 2012 — but his sentence can be extended indefinitely so long as the court judges him to be a menace to society.

“This decision is a very good thing, even if it comes belatedly,” the head of a victims’ support group, Lisbeth Kristine Royneland, said.

The ban also comes just weeks after the deadliest attack against a high school in American history, when shooter Nicolas Cruz killed 17 people at his former high school in Parkland, Florida. Cruz used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle during the attack.