Norway's love of guns unshaken

2011-07-27 22:32

Oslo - Last week's massacre has shaken Norway to its core but will not stop 4 000 shooters from competing at an event within days of the tragedy, speaking volumes about the nation's special relationship with guns.

The fact that the country has more than one firearm for every five people stems from the enormous popularity of hunting and means there have been few calls for new laws after a lone gunman shot dead 68 people on an island on Friday.

The tragedy's impact on the gun-loving population has so far been limited to the cancellation of live television coverage of next week's National Rifle Association (DFS) competition in Bodo, just north of the Arctic Circle.

Rune Haug, sports editor at broadcaster NRK told AFP his channel had planned on showing up to 15 hours of the event over three days next week.

The channel swiftly dropped two days of broadcasts "because we wanted to give priority to the tragedy not to the shooting event" while they debated whether to show any of the competition at all.

"On Wednesday we would normally air eight hours live and we didn't feel that was right either, due to the funerals and memorials."

In the end it was decided not to show any of the event live.

Haug said the journalist and producer due to have commentated the competition had been covering the shooting tragedy's aftermath, and "they've said it would be very difficult to work on this".

Family event

The DFS states on its website it was created by parliament in 1893 "to promote marksmanship and thus prepare the population for national defence" and today consists of 900 rifle clubs with 160 000 active shooters.

It is partly financed by the government's defence budget.

DFS Vice President Jarle Tvinnereim told AFP the "very big family event" bringing together nearly 4 000 shooters aged 11 - 90 will go ahead but "it will be focused on sharing grief.

"We had a long meeting on Monday and spoke to the defence ministry before making a decision to go ahead. There will be a ceremony to remember the victims of Friday's attack.

"Mostly, all of those who are going to be here said it was the right decision, so we can be together and talk to each other and process the grief."

Espem Sarstad, spokesperson for the Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers (NJFF), told AFP his organisation was "sad about the episode" but not concerned that the tragedy would affect hunting.

"In Norway the hunting tradition is really strong, it's 10 000 years old," he said. "Hunting brought us to Norway after the last Ice Age. It's an unbroken tradition to harvest from nature."

He said there would likely be new restrictions concerning semi-automatic weapons, which are not commonly used by hunters.

Strong legislation

"You can say that if he had had a different gun like a bolt-action rifle it would have been different," he added of Anders Behring Breivik's rampage.

Sarstad said he didn't know if Behring Breivik was a member of the NJFF but "it's possible as it's one way to be allowed to buy a weapon. You need a good reason to buy a weapon and being a hunter is a good reason.

"We support very strong legislation because we want to minimise the number of weapons in society."

Vidar Nilsen, an NJFF weapons expert who also sits on a government committee drawing up new gun control legislation, said there are "at least one million hunting and competition guns, rifles, shotguns and pistols together" in Norway, a country of five million.

He said it was difficult to say what difference it would have made if the shooter had had a bolt-action rifle rather than a semi-automatic weapon.

With a bolt-action rifle "you can fire probably 20 to 30 rounds a minute depending on how trained you are and how many magazines you have. With a semi-automatic you can fire more rounds."

The committee he sits on was set up last year to provide a "total renewal of gun legislation".

The committee expects to have drawn up recommendations by November or December.

  • Ernest Albright - 2011-07-27 23:11

    Every time a drunk kills someone in a car do we stop driving, or criminal uses a car to commit a crime do we stop driving. The Tragedy in Norway not to be lessened, stop blaming guns and shooters for this, it is not an inanimate objects fault. One can always rely on the anti-gun press and anti gun lefties to use the blood of the victims to further their cause, and they always forget a defenselessness population will always be a victim, and what about the bombs?

      Andrew - 2011-07-28 11:17

      When last did you see a car used as deadly weapon during an armed robbery or a family murder.

  • Oncall - 2011-07-28 02:06

    Every decade there is a loon who takes out innocents with firearms- Remember the Dunblaine massacre, Tasmania Massacre, and there are more massacres in the US than one can shake a gun at...Disgruntled postal workers, confused college students and the like. But after every massacre there is an outrage and a call to legislate firearms. Some governments seek the disarmnment of their citizens (Actually all of them do with the exception of Switzerland, Norway, Sweden) Thankfully the US government cannot disarm their population because of the constitutional right for the citizens to bear arms--but all this doesnt stop these governments from legislating firearms. The Dunblaine massacre for example saw the complete abolition of handguns in the British isles with stringent measures (nearly impossible) for firearm ownership. The Americans have banned hundreds of types of firearms and made it harder for the local loon to get a gun so it is inevitable that there will be some change in Norway. There always is change in firearms laws when individuals run amok in their respective countries. But then again, the New World Order seeks to disarm the citizenry (look at us here at home in good Old SA) and each time a loon runs amok the Government has a good excuse to legislate an inanimate object out of peoples hands. C'est la vie.

      Matt :-) - 2011-07-28 08:57

      Agreed. In the UK now, you'll get arrested for carrying a butter knife across the road. There is no means of self-defense at all. You're not allowed to put up barb wire on your fence, you defend yourself from attack in your house and YOU are the one jailed and sued. So although crime in SA is of a worse nature, in the UK you are a siting duck waiting for it to happen. There are places in the UK where people are burgled monthly or even weekly... they don't have walls, security bars, etc... let alone guns!

  • Benoexpat - 2011-07-28 06:23

    Guns in people's hands kills people, therefore people kills people. If left untouched a gun is nothing but an overprized paperweight or an useless artifact.

      Born To Fish - 2011-07-28 06:37

      Tell that to our government who thinks guns kill people out of their own will.

  • Grey B - 2011-07-28 07:13

    Guns dont kill - Peolple DO! Fertilizer dont kill, making bombs out of it do.

  • Matt :-) - 2011-07-28 08:54

    In every country where guns are banned for the public, the only ones carrying guns are the police, army and criminals. So crime "shoots" up, nobody can do anything to defend themselves. And when the government goes bad, how do you retaliate... "blaming guns for Columbine (etc) is like blaming spoons for Rosie o' Donnell getting fat"

  • jaycee - 2011-07-28 09:52

    Norway is obviously a country with a broad homogeneous society, which functions on the principles of democracy and freedom. They would therefore realize that the actions of a lunatic man, although it had extremely tragic consequences, cannot and must not derail their country's progress based on civilized principles. It has been an unimaginable high price to pay, but the majority of Norwegians have it embedded in them that in the longer term the benefits to their society will outweigh any rash and dictatorial measures taken now. South Africa, on the other end of the scale, has a crime-ridden society with huge inequalities between and within populations groups as well as between the rich and the poor across racial groups. The ANC government has no idea how to manage this lot and exacerbates the situation by having some of its members also partaking in criminal acts. I think the ANC very well know that the broad population will perhaps never reach the level of sophistication that will put SA at par with countries like Norway. The ANC see SA as a carcass of something dead with no future and only to be scavenged. Yes, tragic events also happen in Norway but they don't set the course for the future because the Norwegian people and its government believe in a prosperous future for their country.

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