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Norway to ban semi-automatic firearms after 2011 attack

Jan. M. Olsen
Associated Press

Copenhagen, Denmark – Norway is moving to ban semi-automatic firearms as of 2021, which will mark a decade since Anders Behring Breivik used such weapons to kill 69 people, most of them teenagers, before surrendering to police, a lawmaker said Wednesday.

Peter Frolich of the Norwegian Parliament’s judicial affairs committee says private persons, including hunters, “should not have the right in Norway to access such weapons.”

Frolich said “a broad majority” in Norway’s 169-seat parliament backs the center-right government’s proposal. No date for a vote was immediately set.

Breivik is serving a 21-year sentence for the 2011 attack where he first set off a car bomb outside the government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight people, before opening fire on the annual summer camp of the left-wing Labor Party’s youth wing on a nearby island.

Norway also would limit the number of firearms a person can possess. According to official figures, there are 1.3 million private firearms in Norway and nearly 500,000 people – mostly hunters – in the country of 5.2 million were registered in 2017 as having a permit.

“We must bring the number of lethal weapons down. A limitation will come,” Frolich told the Associated Press.

The proposal banning semi-automatic firearms came on the back of a report by a government-appointed commission on Norway’s terror preparedness following the 2011 attack.

The 500-page report urged, among other things, reducing the number of firearms accessible to private persons and increased background checks of people requesting firearms permits. Breivik had legally acquired the arms he used.

“We had to adjust it so fits EU directives on arms possession,” Frolich said. Although Norway is not an EU member the country has a policy of bringing its laws in line with European Union rules.

Any ban would not apply to Norway’s military or police.