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CRIME

EXPLAINED: What are Norway’s gun control laws? 

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. 

Pictured is a pistol at a gun club.
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)

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. 

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. 

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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For members

CRIME

Norway’s most common phone and internet scams and how to avoid them

People living in Norway are often targeted by phone and online scams. A recent Norstat survey shows that as many as 92 percent of Norwegians have received e-mails, SMS messages, or phone calls from scammers.

Norway's most common phone and internet scams and how to avoid them

If you live in Norway, chances are high that you have been contacted by fraudsters who attempted to get hold of your personal information. 

Available data points to Norway being more exposed to scams than neighbouring countries. When it comes to phone scams, in January of 2022, Telia blocked 4 million potential “wangiri” scam calls in Norway, compared to 2.6 million in Sweden, 2.2 million in Denmark, and 450,000 in Finland.

Wangiri means “one (ring) and cut” in Japanese. The scammers who use this method often hang up before people have time to pick up the phone. They make money when people call back, as callers are re-routed to a premium rate number overseas and charged for the expensive call.

Furthermore, a recent survey conducted by Norstat for the Frende Forsikring insurance company shows that as many as 92 percent of Norwegians received e-mails, SMS, or telephone calls from fraudsters.

According to the survey, 11 percent of people who received such calls talked to the scammers, and a small proportion also clicked on SMS links. 

Real-life examples of scams

So, what do such scam attempts look like? The Local spoke to two people living in Norway who have been targeted by scammers.

Egor Gaidukov, Assistant Operations Manager at Bulandet Miljøfisk AS, told us that the scammer who contacted him via phone was easy to identify due to the language he used.

“I was called by a Russian-speaking man pretending to represent DNB. For context, I’m also a Russian speaker. He said that 700 kroner was withdrawn from my bank account to an Apple wallet,” Gaidukov says, adding that it was not difficult to see that the man was a scammer.

“The way he talked was different from how real bank representatives speak. In addition, I have the experience of talking to other scammers before. Also, it’s strange that a bank officer speaks Russian in Norway,” he points out.

Bergen-based website designer Mykola Blohkin was recently targeted by scammers pretending to be Microsoft employees.  

“I got a call from a UK phone number. It was weird, but I actually have a friend from England who lives here in Bergen, so I thought it might be him. Instead, it was a guy with what sounded like a strong Indian accent that started explaining how he was working at Microsoft and that I had some dangerous viruses on my computer. I work in the IT industry and haven’t used Windows OS for at least ten years, so it was rather funny to hear about viruses,” Blohkin explains, adding that he has a few rules that help him stay protected from frauds:

“I rarely pick up my phone if I get calls from abroad. Even when it’s local Norwegian numbers, I try to Google them first. My rule is: if it’s important, people will send me an SMS briefly explaining the situation.”

Most common scams in Norway: Hacked accounts and phishing

In order to get more information on the most common scams in Norway in the last year, The Local reached out to NorSIS, an independent organisation committed to raising awareness about threats and vulnerabilities regarding information security. 

Specialist manager Karoline Tømte at NorSIS told us that the most common inquiries they got in the last year involve hijacked and “hacked” accounts. 

“In 2021, we registered 740 cases of hacked Facebook accounts and 185 cases of hacked Instagram profiles. We also received inquiries about phishing attempts both by SMS and e-mail. In this type of fraud, scammers send out an SMS that appears to come from well-known companies and agencies such as the Tax Administration and the logistics company DHL,” Tømte pointed out.

“Scammers also often try to get Bank-ID or other payment information, with the goal of acquiring financial gain or collecting personal information for later use,” she added, warning that scammers are becoming more sophisticated and cunning. 

Safety tips

Økokrim’s latest threat assessment states that the number of criminal networks targeting Norwegian bank customers has increased from between three and five before the pandemic to between 15 and 20 at the moment. 

As fraudsters operating in the Norwegian market adapt and advance their methods, people must remain vigilant and attentive to detail.

Here are some safety tips – compiled from NorSIS and other publicly available security resources – that can help you minimize risk and secure your personal information:

1. Official entities in Norway rarely ask for personal information via phone

Generally speaking, the Norwegian authorities will not call you to request personal information. That is why, for example, the Tax Administration sends an SMS to citizens, asking them to log in to their website when they have to provide personal information. Most agencies and reputable companies do the same. To be absolutely sure that the website is correct, NorSIS recommends going directly to the website.

2. Ask for the name and title of the caller

If you are called by the Norwegian authorities and are unsure whether the caller is legitimate, ask for the name and title of the caller. Then, feel free to call the switchboard or contact another channel to check the background of the caller.

3. Stay vigilant

NorSIS advises people in Norway to be a little critical of inquiries they receive. Scammers often use social manipulation, temptation, fear, and trust. They usually have information about your property history, housing conditions, and your ID number. According to Tømte, it is a good idea to hide your friend lists on Facebook so that your contact network cannot be used. Scammers adapt to different situations and seasons and often strike when people are on holiday and are less attentive. Keep that in mind the next time someone contacts you and tries to tempt or scare you into something.

4. Delete messages and reject calls from foreign numbers, don’t click on links

Be wary of unexpected inquiries that pop up out of nowhere. Do not click on links or open attachments if you don’t know the sender. Most people delete messages with links from unknown numbers and decline calls from unknown foreign numbers. That is often the correct response.

5. Passwords, PINs, and two-step verification

Protect all your accounts with a unique password so that, if your password is leaked, not all your accounts will be threatened. Never share your passwords or PINs with others. Use 2-step verification for extra protection of your accounts.

6. Keep track of your bank accounts, protect your BankID information

Keep track of your bank accounts. Contact the card issuer or block your card if you see unexpected account activity. Never share your BankID information with others. 

7. Keep your anti-malware software updated

Make sure you have up-to-date anti-malware software to protect you. If you open malicious attachments or links, updated software could offer some protection. 

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