Gun Ownership in Norway

Home » Living in Norway » Gun Ownership in Norway

Just like in the USA and other countries across the globe, a large proportion of Norwegians own firearms.

Norway is in fact in the top ten countries in the world when it comes to guns owned per capita. the country sits in tenth place with about 31 guns per 100 residents.

Norway gun ownership

The culture of firearms

Hunting and marksmanship have been a part of Norwegian culture pretty much since guns first arrived in Norway.

Hunting has always been an integral part of Norwegian culture and is reflected in today’s number of registered hunters – about half a million people, or around 10% of Norway’s total population.

Shooting is also a traditional sport; just look at the biathlon event, the sport that combines shooting and cross-country ski racing – humorously referred to as a ‘Norwegian drive-by’. Like any other Nordic skiing event, Norway leads in the number of medals awarded in biathlon events.

Despite a significant portion of the population owning and using firearms, they are rarely ever seen outside the settings of their uses, such as in marksmanship or biathlon meets or during hunting seasons.

Permits and requirements

Norway has some of the strictest gun control laws around today. It is only possible to obtain permission to own a weapon by having officially documented a use for the gun with the local police and taken extensive training relevant to the intended use of the weapon. Generally, this falls into two categories: hunting and sports shooting.

The first step to owning a firearm in Norway is to get a Våpenkort – a firearm permit that is specific to what you plan to use the firearm for.

Hunting in the Norwegian countryside

Hunting in Norway

For hunters, it is required to complete a 30-hour course, and pass an exam that covers a variety of topics such as responsible gun handling, and the environmental impacts of hunting.

Once the course is completed and exam passed all that is left to do is to register with the government and receive a hunting license. This license needs to be renewed each year by paying a fee, and in some cases, spending a day at a certified firing range.

For a hunter that wishes to purchase a firearm, the hunting license is brought to the police station, where it is required to fill out an application to purchase the proper firearm for the type of hunting one wishes to do. After the application is evaluated and approved, the applicant can take the returned form to the store and make their purchase.

Sport and competitive shooting

The qualification for a permit can be considered slightly easier for sports shooting but requires more time and training.

Anyone interested in shooting competitively or recreationally as part of a gun club must enroll in a firearm safety course that lasts at least nine hours and pass an exam – although this differs than the exam hunters take as it primarily handles on firearm safety.

The passing of the test results in acceptance to the approved gun club, and a license for competition.

While the hunters can obtain their firearm relatively quickly, sports shooters must prove their intentions to compete by actively training or competing in the gun club of their choice. This means regular attendance (at least 15 times) at gun club training over the course of six months.

Start of the Biathlon Mens Pursuit
Biathlon combines skiing and shooting into a competitive winter sport

After six months, the applicant may apply for weapon ownership. The license and a written recommendation from the gun club president are brought to the police station, and the type of competition class is filled out on the application.

Types of guns owned in Norway

Because of the laws and the culture of firearms, there is a fairly limited variety of guns in Norway. Rifles and shotguns make up the bulk of civilian-owned weapons in Norway as they are used for hunting. Handguns can also be found in Norway, generally used by competitive and sports shooters that belong to gun clubs.

Fully automatic weapons, some semiautomatic weapons, and firearms disguised as other objects are banned under the law. Certain types of weapons not covered by the Firearms Act’s definition of firearms, such as stun guns, are also generally banned.

Storage and ammunition

The law for storage of firearms is also quite strict in Norway. For shotguns and rifles, it is required to have the firearm, or a vital part of the firearm, to be securely locked away in an approved gun safe, securely bolted to a non-removable part of the house.

The police are allowed to make a home inspection of the safe. An inspection must be announced more than 48 hours in advance, and the police are only allowed to see the safe and make sure it is legally installed.

Ammunition is only sold to persons with a valid weapon license. Unless given special dispensation, no more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition can be stored at a time.

New regulations

Norway plans to ban semi-automatic firearms as of 2021. The ban would require current owners of semi-automatic weapons to hand them over to the government, as well as prohibiting future sales.

It is estimated that this law change will affect some 2,000 gun-owners in the country of 5.3 million inhabitants. The bill allows for several exemptions, in particular for shooting sports.

About Bradley Kurtz

Bradley Kurtz in an American freelance writer living in Trondheim.

Norway Weekly Subscribe Banner

25 thoughts on “Gun Ownership in Norway”

  1. With all these safety precautions the government imposes on its citizens, I think it actually keeps them responsible in handling the firearms. It also assures the government that these firearms don’t get in to the wrong hands. Very insightful post. Thank you.

    • Norway is #14 on the list of “Countries With the Most Mass Shootings”. Firearms in Norway are in the wrong hands. Criminals don’t abide by gun laws. You people need to wake up. Just because you don’t own a weapon, doesn’t mean people can’t kill you with one. It makes you more vulnerable, because you have no way to defend yourself.

  2. Is it not still the case that Norwegians also own guns for civil defence? I believe at one time, those who had done military service had to retain their firearms after finishing their service should they be called up in times of emergency, though I cant find any current information on that.

    • Hi Mark, I think you are referring to the Norwegian national guard. They did store service weapons at home (AG3)
      however this is no longer the case, the practise changed around 2014 I think.

  3. Contrary to popular belief, limiting ownership and restricting types of firearms doesn’t really work. Take the U.S. And Canada for example. They rank 13 and 14 per capita for mass shootings world wide. Canada has much different gun control laws an a much lower firearm ownership rate with very little legal handgun ownership. The media carries a lot of the blame for hyping up and sensationalizing these events. Add this to much of the “moral” breakdown that has been occurring for decades in many societies and increase in mental health issues associated with our current societies and then compound it with the desperation to be noticed and become famous at any costs and you have an idea of the problem. In the U.S. gun homicide is considered any killing by firearm, whether in self defense, by law enforcement of criminal intent. Self defense and law enforcement deaths by firearm are about double the criminal intent deaths and a large part of criminal intent deaths are criminal vs criminal, such as gang violence. It also occurs at a higher per capita rate in cities and states with the strictest gun control l aws.

    • A.L. – Please get your facts straight. Although there is a lot of media attention on them, mass shootings account for a tiny number (about .03%) of gun deaths in the U.S. and Canada. Also, the US has had 110 mass shootings since 1982 vs. Canada’s less than 30 mass shootings in the last 50 years! You are also wrong about US gun homicide including self defense and law enforcement deaths by firearm. “The FBI separates statistics for what it calls justifiable homicide, which includes the killing of a criminal by a police officer or private citizen in certain circumstances, which are not included [in the number of gun-related killings].” source: FBI Homicide Index.

      • Sounds like Canada has more mass shootings when you adjust for population size. Would you expect Monaco to have as many murders as the U.S.?

      • However it’s still criminal on criminal so gun bans won’t apply to them since they shouldn’t have them anyhow also it’s a federal crime for a felons to ever attempt to buy a legal firearm from the store so gun restrictions would only take them from the good people and leave them vulnerable to the criminals and gang bangers.

    • Not true. Homicides are much more common in red states (especially southern states) than blue ones. A resident Louisiana is about 15 times a likely to be murdered as a resident of New Hampshire and about 4 times as likely as a resident of New York

      • Heia Norge! ALL the high homicide numbers are in Democrat-led cities with strict gun laws! If you remove those cities, the remaining homicide numbers in those states are among the LOWEST!

  4. While the gun ownership in Norway is strictly regulated, it’s not as the article claims more rigid than in most countries. In fact a lot of countries have much stricter laws. For ex. Sweden, Great Britain, Germany, Canada and even many US states like New Jersey are by far more regulated. Just to mention some.
    Getting a hunters or sports licence is no big deal and you get it fairly quick unless you are a professional criminal. An obligatory gun handling short course or yearly hunter test at a fire range must be the minimum to demand. If you cant hit a barn door you have nothing to do out in the woods.
    And if you for instance want to buy an airgun there’s no restrictions at all(!) as long as the caliber is standard 4,5. Larger calibers are just a formality. Many countries regulate power output of the guns to the degree they become toys.

    • True. Is some of those few things that seems worse on paper in Norway, but we’re not Germany. We don’t really like paperwork and avoid it at all cost (I think only Iceland and maybe Denmark is better than us at that)…. In reality its up to how you’re perceived as a human being. Which actually seems to kinda work. Unless you’re Breivik ofcourse. (disgusting animal)

    • By the way air guns aren’t exactly going to cause a mass shooting anytime soon that’s why the u.s. don’t have regs on them.

  5. 11B1P for 6 years. (Worth a google). Live in Norway since 2011. Left my arsenal in Kentucky and hunt legally in Norway. The gun laws here work. Full stop, no but, no “wake up”, they simply work. Guns are tools to use. If you need a gun, you need a reason. No reason = no gun = no nonsense. Never felt safer, happy for all the days I don’t have to worry about myself or my children.

  6. Guns dont kill people,people kill people. We all basically care about ourselves so dont call me to protect you and I wont call you to protect me. Self defense is a constitutional right in the usa. Why does the government in svalgard actually require to carry a gun outside of villages? Polar bears.. With that said dont tread on me and ill enjoy my constitutional rights. Mind your own business.

  7. Hello. I live in Norway and can agree with some of the arguments I read. There are actually some things that should be mentioned here. Buying weapons in Norway is expensive. Ammunition is also expensive. In recent years, there has been more shooting than ever. This is due to an explosion in mental illness in society which in turn is a result of an increase in the use of drugs and prescription drugs.
    Big cities like Bergen and Oslo have the worst.
    Immigration is also partly to blame. Norwegian prisons are unfortunately represented with most of a foreign cultural background.
    The Norwegian society with the government in the driver’s seat has completely failed.

    Finally, I would add that years and years ago shooting episodes who resulted in death were often hunting accidents and not crime related.
    What is ironic now is that the police in Norway are over represented in accidents with firearms. The criminals are rarely heard to have accidents with firearms.
    People who do eks deer hunting are somewhat represented, but nowhere near like the statisticks shown in the police force. So one may ask what is happening in this country.
    Personal i have a background from the norwegian armed forces. Officer and employment in foreign military missions. Now i work with mental illnes and towards those who struggle to end drug addiction.


Leave a Comment