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Crime For Members

EXPLAINED: What are Norway's gun control laws? 

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: What are Norway's gun control laws? 
This is what you should know about Norway's gun laws. File photo: A pistol is displayed at a shooting club in Brasilia. Photo by Evaristo Sa / AFP)

Norway has one of the highest gun per capita rates in the world. However, there are still strict requirements on firearms, including both licenses and applications being required to buy weapons. 

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The deadly shootings Oslo bar shootings on Saturday June 25th have naturally raised questions in Norway about gun ownership.

Police quickly arrested the suspect behind the killings, whom they described as a 42-year-old Norwegian man of Iranian descent known to the nation's security services.

Norwegian media named him as Zaniar Matapour. He was believed to have used two firearms to commit an attack investigators were treating as terrorism.

Who can own a gun in Norway?

Despite its restrictive gun laws, which require a licence for ownership and applications for each weapon, Norway has one of the highest guns per capita in the world. Norway has 28.8 civilian-owned weapons per person, according to the Small Arms Survey in 2017

Despite there being more than 1.2 million registered firearms in Norway, laws for obtaining a gun licence are pretty restrictive. 

There are two reasons that people can obtain a firearms licence in Norway, and they are for hunting or sport. The licence is specific to how you intend to use the weapon, so if you have a hunting licence, you can't buy a gun for sporting shooting and vice versa. 

Those who want to own a gun will need to be over 18 to buy a rifle for hunting, or over 21 to buy a handgun for sports shooting.

Hunting licence

Obtaining a licence for hunting requires a 30-hour course and passing an exam covering various topics such as responsible handling and the impact of hunting on an ecosystem. 

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After passing the exam, those who want to obtain a gun licence for hunting will need to register with the government and receive a våpenkort or firearm licence.

To purchase a weapon, an application will need to be filled out and handed into a police station. Once this is approved, people can buy a weapon from a gun store. Part of the application involves specifying the type of hunting the gun will be used for

Hunters are only allowed one weapon per calibre and eight firearms in total.  

Hunting permits need to be renewed each year. 

Sports shooting licence

Civilians can also obtain a permit for competitive or sports shooting. The process for obtaining a sports shooting licence involves a nine-hour course which focuses on the safe handling of firearms and passing an example. 

Once the test has been passed, the applicant will be allowed to join an approved gun club. Sports shooters must prove their intentions to shoot for sport or competition by regularly training or competing in the gun club of their choice. 

Members will need to attend at least 15 meet-ups before being able to purchase their own gun. Once they prove they intend to use the weapon for sports shooting, they can apply for their own firearm. 

Applicants must bring their licence, a written recommendation from the shooting club's president to the police station, and information on the competition class they will compete in. 

Like hunters, sports shooters are restricted to a weapon of each calibre. Professional shooters are allowed a spare. 

What kind of guns are allowed?

Automatic, semi-automatic and high calibre pistols and rifles are entirely banned. Furthermore, conversion kits and modifications that make weapons automatic are also prohibited. Weapons deemed as "military grade", such as flame throwers, are also banned. 

Firearms disguised as other objects are banned, as are weapons not covered by the Firearms Act, such as stun guns. 

Rifles and shotguns, therefore, make up the large majority of guns owned by civilians in Norway. 

What other rules are there? 

Weapons must be stored in an approved gun safe, bolted to a non-removable part of the house. Police can also inspect the safe but must give 48 hours' notice. 

Gun owners can store no more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition at home. Home loading is allowed. 

Citizens are not allowed to open carry. The gun must only be on the person in situations where it is being used as it should. When transporting the weapon, it must be kept in a case or bag and not be loaded. 

Police can revoke the gun licence and seize the weapons of anyone it deems unfit. This can be if someone has substance abuse or mental health problems, for example. 

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Is there a lot of gun violence in Norway? 

Typically, the number of people killed by firearms in Norway is low. Between 2012 and 2020, 24 people were killed by firearms, with the country having a low murder rate in general

However, 2011 saw the July 22nd mass shooting by far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, where 77 people were killed. 

To date, there have been two mass shootings in Norway, the July 22nd attacks, in which far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik set off a bomb in Oslo before carrying out shooting on am island for left-wing youth, and Saturday's shootings in central Oslo. 

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