Saturday, August 06, 2011

Norway shows the futility of strict gun control

Norway, where hunting is popular, has some of toughest firearm legislation in world, but it was easily circumvented

The massacre on the island of Ut√łya is certain to lead to a security review, with particular stress on how Anders Behring Breivik obtained his weapons. Norway already has some of the toughest gun laws in the world, but they were apparently easily circumvented by the killer.

A licence is required to own a gun, and the owner must provide a written statement saying why he or she wants one. Many categories of guns, including automatics and some powerful handguns, are banned from sale altogether.

Hunting and outdoor sports are popular in Norway. But the laws are strict in these areas, too. Shotguns and rifles must be stored in a secure place, typically a specially designed gun safe, as must ammunition. Police have the right to inspect an owner's home to ensure the law is being followed.

Transporting a weapon to a public place is also covered by legislation. The owner must have a good reason for carrying a weapon, must ensure it is unloaded and concealed from view, but not worn on the body, and must keep the weapon under constant supervision.

Under the Firearm Weapons Act, only "sober and responsible" persons over the age of 18 may obtain a gun licence. For handguns, the age requirement is 21. In 2009, additional legislation was introduced, further tightening Norway's gun laws.

Perhaps because the laws are already so strict and gun crime is relatively rare, gun control is not generally considered a political issue in Norway, unlike countries such as the US where a citizen's right to bear arms is guaranteed by the constitution and fiercely defended.

American bloggers opposed to gun control were quick to note that Norway's regulations did not stop Breivik carrying out the attacks.

One poster, lawodevolution on, commented: "No full autos [automatics], license to own a gun, permission to transport, limit on how many you can own, need to show a reason to own a gun no carry, etc ... All this did not stop a guy from carrying a 'handgun, automatic, and a shotgun' at a no-gun zone in Norway.

"Gun control is a failure. These dirtbags do not obay [sic] laws and a person who wants to do a mass shooting will put the time and money into getting the equipment necessary to do the job


OR: Man pounds on door; gets shot through it: "Maresh sped past 35-year-old Christopher Esquivel. Esquivel's brother said that's when he ran up the stairs after Maresh, pounding on his apartment door. Maresh never opened it, but police said he did shoot Esquivel from behind it. "My brother wanted to talk to him like a man," said Esquivel's brother, who wanted to remain anonymous. "That's when the incident happened, through one side of the door to the other." The bullet pierced the door, and went straight through Esquivel's body, they said. "You could see that there was a bullet hole on the left side and on the right side," said Davenport. Police said if they believed Maresh was acting in self-defense, he would not have been arrested. They said Friday the shooting is still under investigation."

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