Gun Ownership in Norway: Firearms Regulations in Norway Explained

Norway has a staggering 28.8 firearms per 100 citizens, and thus makes it high up on the list of the countries with the most firearms and guns per civilian capita. It’s nowhere near the US’s 120 guns per 100 people, but it’s still a high number, so what’s gun ownership like in Norway?

Gun ownership in Norway is mainly tied to hunting and marksmanship, and over 10 % of Norway’s population are registered as active hunters. Biathlons and other types of gunfire sports are pretty popular in Norway.

There are strict rules and regulations that dictates who can legally own a firearm in Norway, and you are required to have a permit to be able to own one.

A Norwegian hunter.
A Norwegian hunter.

This weapon permit in turn requires you to have a reason to buy and own it, and you can be required to get rid of it if you’re not using it.

We’re going to to take a closer look at all things related to gun ownership in Norway, including the requirements, the general firearm regulations, and the traditions tied to gun ownership in Norway.

Permit and requirements for gun ownership in Norway

There are strict requirements and regulations for buying a firearm in Norway, and you need to be able to prove that you actually need to weapon, as well as being able to document a record of good citizenship with no or few criminal charges.

Anyone who wants to own a gun in Norway need to start with getting a weapon permit (“Våpentillatelse“) from the police. This in turn requires that you document the need for it, which will depend on whether you are going to use it for hunting or sport.

In addition, the police is free to deny anyone this weapon permit if they are unsure that the weapon will be used for its intended purposes. This means that they can deny convicted criminals and other sketchy people the right to own a gun.

A Norwegian police car
The Norwegian police need to approve all weapon permits. Photo by Wolfmann / CC BY-SA 4.0.

The next section is divided into sport weapons and hunting weapons, since the requirements are vastly different between them.

Requirements to get a hunting weapon in Norway

To get a hunting weapon in Norway, you will need to begin with getting your Hunting Test (“Jegerprøve“). This is a 30 hour hunting course that ends with a written exam, and you need to pass this to become a licensed hunter in Norway.

Once you have the Hunting Test done, you can apply to the police to get a weapon permit. They will then accept it if they deem you safe for owning a gun.

You will need to renew your hunting license every year, but don’t worry, you won’t need to take the exam or a course yearly.

Just pay the fee if your hunting small game (roe deer and smaller animals), or pay the fee as well as spend a day at the shooting range if you’re hunting big game. The shooting range requirements are pretty relaxed if you are somewhat familiar with shooting, but needs to be done every year to keep the big game hunting permit.

Moose grazing
Moose are the most popular big game animal for hunters in Norway. Photo published with permission.

Requirements to get a sporting gun in Norway

If you want to try your marksmanship skills in Norway, the first steps to buying a gun is to join a shooting club or another sporting club where gun shooting is part of the sport.

Generally speaking, you need to enroll in a firearms safety course, be an active member of the club for at least 6 months, and attend at least 15 different events, practice events or club meetings before you can apply for a weapon permit.

The organization where you are a member will need to recommend that you should get your own weapon, so they will be able to deny anyone they deem sketchy, or anyone that seem to join the club in order to get a weapon license without any intent to actually partake in the sport.

Once you fit the requirement, head to the police station to apply for a weapon permit.

Types of firearms that are legal in Norway

Only a certain type of weapons are legal in Norway, and mainly weapons used for hunting or marksmanship can be owned.

Generally speaking, hunters are allowed to buy shotguns and rifles, while sport shooters are also allowed handguns and revolvers.

All fully automatic guns are banned!

Semi-automatic guns are allowed if the gun was designed to be semi-automatic, but banned if they were originally designed to be fully automatic, then put on a semi-automatic firing system.

How many people own guns in Norway?

There are roughly 1.6 million guns in Norway. These are owned by around 500,000 different citizens, meaning that the average gun owner owns over 3 weapons each.

This is not so strange considering that fact that you often use different guns for different types of game. Hunters are generally allowed to own up to 10 weapons each, while sport shooters have a limit of one weapon per caliber they use.

It’s also estimated to be tens of thousands of illegal and unregistered weapons in Norway. Some claim that the number could be in the hundreds of thousands, but no one knows for sure. Some of these are used by criminals, but the majority are likely old, unregistered hunting weapons from a time before the weapon regulations came in effect (which was in 1961).

Keep in mind that all numbers in this article are only civilian weapons. The Norwegian military also owns a lot of weapons, but they don’t have any official figures or numbers available.

Garden outside the Royal Castle in Oslo is part of the Norwegian military
Garden outside the Royal Castle in Oslo is part of the Norwegian military. Photo published with permission.

Laws and regulations to prevent guns from getting stolen or misplaced

The weapon laws of Norway are filled with lots of different details to regulate how you can legally store, handle or use the weapons, but one of the most important things to be aware of is storage. There are strict rules to prevent guns from getting stolen or misplaced, and all gun owners in Norway must own a fully lockable weapon locker.

All weapons are to be locked away when not in active use.

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