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.
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 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.
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.
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.