Police to Keep Firearms from Council of Europe Summit

Jón Gunnarsson Alþingi

Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson has stated that the firearms bought for the Council of Europe Summit last week will not be sold. The capacity of the police had taken a leap after the summit, both in terms of training and equipment.

“No reason to sell”

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson stated that he saw “no reason” to sell the firearms that were purchased for the police ahead of the Council of Europe summit last week: the police would be “better set” in the event that another meeting of this magnitude was to be held in Iceland.

“Who’s to say that there won’t be another big event like this here at some point, sooner rather than later; no one knows,” Jón Gunnarsson told RÚV.

As noted by the National Broadcaster, Arndís Anna Kristínardóttir Gunnarsdóttir, member of Parliament for the Pirates, was the first to draw attention to the issue in Parliament yesterday. She inquired of the minister what would happen to the weapons, now that the meeting was over. Jón replied that the authorities did not intend on selling the firearms.

“I’ve made the analogy that it’s akin to how newcomers to the national team gain a lot of experience by playing big national matches. This was our big national match on this stage,” Jón remarked on the floor of Parliament yesterday.

Significant improvement in police’s capacity

In his interview with RÚV, Jón stated that he didn’t believe there was “any reason” for the police to sell these weapons. “There is a big change in the capacity of the police after this meeting, in terms of education, training, and equipment,” Jón remarked. “I believe we’ve added three to five police motorcycles. We’ve also purchased a lot of clothing and protective equipment,” Jón added, citing the renewal and increase in police vests as an example.

When asked about the exact costs of purchasing this new equipment, Jón was unwilling to say, referring the matter to the police, who possessed information about which equipment was purchased and how much it cost.

Asked if the guns would be “put in a box and thrown into the attic” until the next meeting was held, Jón responded thusly: “Again, you’ll have to ask the police. I don’t think they have an attic, but they definitely have some storage room down in the basement, where a lot of equipment is kept.”

As noted by RÚV, data regarding the cost of purchasing equipment for the summit is not yet available, although it may be available later this week.

Ask Iceland Review: Can I Import a Gun to Iceland?

gun laws iceland

While many may not associate Icelanders with gun culture, Iceland ranks high on lists for international per capita gun ownership, with around 32 guns per 100 citizens. This places Iceland at number 12 in the world for overall gun ownership, with a total of around 106,000 guns in the whole country.

Hunting is an important tradition in Iceland, and many also practice marksmanship as a hobby. But even though guns are relatively plentiful here, there are strict regulations on them.

As we stated in our Ask Iceland Review on guns last year, to own a gun in Iceland, you must be at least 20 years old with no criminal record. You must pass a mental and physical health check and get character references from two people, in addition to attending a course on guns, gun safety, and gun and hunting laws. After passing a written test, you’re issued a permit for shotguns and rifles. For larger rifles and semi-automatic shotguns, you must wait an additional year.

It is legal to import some guns, mostly hunting rifles. Iceland, for example, serves as a stop-over for many headed to the Norwegian territory of Svalbard, where guns are actually required because of polar bears. These guns must also go through Icelandic controls.

Notably, it is illegal to import all guns of the following types:

  • automatic and semi-automatic pistols of all calibres
  • automatic and semi-automatic rifles of all calibres
  • automatic shotguns
  • semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns capable of carrying more than two cartridges.

You can view Iceland’s gun laws (in Icelandic, of course) here.

Additionally, you may want to read over the website for the capital area police, or contact them directly at their email: [email protected]

 

Police Commissioner’s Father Entangled in Domestic-Terror Investigation

Chief Superintendent Grímur Grímsson

National Police Commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir has recused herself from an investigation into a domestic-terrorism plot; the home of the Police Commissioner’s father, a well-known weapons collector, was searched during the investigation. Two men remain in custody.

A well-known weapons collector and gunsmith

Last week, the police arrested four Icelandic men suspected of planning a domestic-terrorism attack. Two of the suspects were immediately released; the other two have remained in custody.

According to the police, the suspects had hoarded numerous weapons – including dozens of semi-automatic guns and 3D-printed components – alongside a considerable amount of ammunition. The men, all of whom are in their twenties, had discussed carrying out an attack during the police’s annual celebration, which will be held tomorrow, October 1.

Read More: Does Iceland have a gun problem?

At a press conference yesterday, Sveinn Ingiberg Magnússon, Chief of Police for the District Attorney’s Office, revealed that National Police Commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir had recused herself from the case as an individual connected to her had been named in the investigation.

Following the press conference, various outlets reported that the individual in question was Guðjón Valdimarsson, the Police Commissioner’s father. According to RÚV, the police had searched the home of Guðjón Valdimarsson, a known weapons collector and gunsmith, who sells weapons and spare parts on the website vopnasalinn.net.

Guðjón is said to own a sizable collection of guns and has been granted a “collector’s licence,” authorising his ownership of illegal weapons if, for example, they possess historical value. The police has, however, not offered any details on Guðjón’s possible connection to the investigation.

Mbl.is references comments that Guðjón Valdimarsson made regarding a bill on weapons, explosives, and fireworks. “My weapons collection is one of the largest private collections in Iceland,” Guðjón remarked, adding that he had invested a considerable amount in weapons, estimating the value of his collection to be ca. ISK 40 million. He also emphasised that his collection was kept in a specially-designed building and that all of the weapons were registered legally.

Police officers to experiment with tasers

The investigation into the domestic-terror plot has brought the discussion of proactive policing into the fore. RÚV reports that the Minister of Justice is drafting regulations that would allow police officers to carry tasers as a part of an experimental project.

Iceland: Terrorist Plot Sparks Debate on Police Power

Icelandic police arrested four men in their twenties this week who are suspected of plotting a terrorist attack on state institutions, possibly including the Icelandic parliament and police force. While the police managed to arrest the men before they could carry out their alleged plan, the incident has sparked a debate on whether the Icelandic police force is adequately equipped for responding to such incidents, and whether the legal framework they operate in is adequate. Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson stated he collaborating with the National Police Commissioner to draft suggestions for reform within the police force.

Ordinary police officers unarmed

“We are considering publishing these suggestions this autumn,” Jón told Fréttablaðið. “The state of organised crime is more serious than people realise.” While Jón stated that increasing police weaponry could potentially be included in those suggestions, he added that does not mean arming ordinary law enforcement officers with firearms. Ordinary policemen in Iceland don’t carry guns on their person, although there is a gun stored in every police car. The special forces, which do carry firearms, are called out for incidents involving weapons, and their call-outs have increased in number recently.

Read More: Does Iceland Have a Gun Problem?

Fjölnir Sæmundsson, chairman of the National Association of Police Officers (Landssamband lögreglumanna) stated that while the incident shocked police officers, he is not of the opinion that it indicates a need to arm ordinary police officers in Iceland. The incident does, however, demonstrate the necessity of collaborating with police departments abroad and perhaps reviewing regulations on the permissions Icelandic police have to monitor certain individuals, according to Fjölnir.

Asked whether Iceland, like other Nordic countries, is experiencing a rise in the activities of extremist alt-right groups, National Police Commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir stated that the risk of crime connected to such groups is still considered low. Sigríður stated that the risk assessment for terrorist incidents would not be changed in light of this one incident.

Common denominator

Recent incidents involving weapons in Iceland contain one commonality: those involved are young, Icelandic males. Professor of Criminology Helgi Gunnlaugsson told Iceland Review he believes this should be studied. “It’s important to look at the ideology. These young Icelandic males think carrying these weapons around is important and they are prepared to use them. We need to study what’s happening with young males that are on the margins of society.”

Helgi suggested that within the Icelandic system, there is more emphasis on responding to crime instead of trying to prevent it. “You have the police, but it would also be helpful to have other types of agencies approaching troubled youth in a constructive way.”

Nearly 90,000 Firearms in Iceland

guns bullets

There were 76,680 firearms registered to 36,548 owners in Iceland as of January 1, RÚV reports. Taking into account lost, broken, seized, and exportable firearms, as well as weapons utilised by police and unsold inventory, the total firearm count is estimated at 87, 048.

The count comes as the Minister of Justice’s response to an inquiry from Pirate MP Andrés Ingi Jónsson concerning the importation and production of firearms in Iceland.

From 2012 to 2016, the number of imported firearms imported and produced in Iceland per year was between 1,300 – 1,500, but since 2017, that number has been increased to 2,200 – 2,600 per year.

Most imported firearms are registered to men, although between 2012 and 2021, between 22 and 69 women registered as the owner of imported firearms per year,  making women roughly 3-4% of registered owners. Twenty individuals own 2,052 weapons, which comes out to an average of 103 firearms per owner.

Read More: Does Iceland Have a Gun Problem?

Andrés’ inquiry was particularly interested in how many weapons that were produced by 3D printers police have confiscated. According to the Minister of Justice’s answer, only one firearm produced by 3D printer has been confiscated.

According to Icelandic police, legally obtained guns do not appear to be a source of crime, and the guns that have been used for illegal purposes in Iceland are mainly stolen and not purchased.

In Focus: Does Iceland Have a Gun Problem?

guns

Two recent shootings in Reykjavík have put gun ownership in the spotlight, sparking conversations about how many semiautomatic weapons there are in Iceland, if they are too easy to obtain, and the ideology of those carrying and using these firearms.Iceland is renowned for its safety: it has topped the Global Peace Index for the past […]

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Arming Police With Tasers Under Consideration

police station reykjavík

Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson will meet with the National Federation of Icelandic Police (Landssamband lögreglumanna) and police commissioners to discuss the possibility of arming Icelandic police with tasers, RÚV reports. The Federation says tasers would not be useful in situations where the attacker is armed with a firearm. If tasers were introduced into the force, it would be according to strict regulations, the Minister stated.

Would not be used against guns

Two shootings occurred in Reykjavík this month, just days apart, sparking a conversation about whether Icelandic Police’s standard equipment of pepper spray and clubs is sufficient. Research shows that police officers, the government, and the general public are all of the opinion that firearms are not necessary for police. Still, the number of police cases involving weapons (both knifes and guns) has increased in recent years, leading the force to reconsider what should be included in standard equipment.

The National Federation of Icelandic Police stated in a press release that the discussion surrounding tasers is not directly linked to the two shootings, and that tasers would not be used in situations where attackers are armed with firearms. “However, such equipment must be investigated thoroughly to ensure police officers’ safety, but it should be borne in mind that such equipment will not be used when firearms are used,” the press release reads.

Read More: Two Shootings Cause Concern Among Reykjavík Residents

“This development is alarming and something we do not want to see continue. We want to try and put an end to this in our society. We enjoy a lot of security here in Iceland and we want to ensure that residents are safe. At the same time, we must ensure that police can respond appropriately, protect themselves and residents,” the Minister of Justice stated in a radio interview this morning. “We want to try and put an end to this in our society. We enjoy a lot of security here in Iceland and we want to ensure that residents are safe. At the same time, we must ensure that police can respond appropriately, protect themselves and residents. We are considering whether it might be appropriate to take the step of introducing these electric weapons, which have been used a lot abroad. Including in neighbouring countries.”

The Minister stated that tasers would help police officers avoid conflicts involving clubs, which are more likely to cause physical injury in arrests, according to some studies. The call to consider the use of tasers has come from the ranks of police, according to Jón. “I hear that and I am listening. I’m going to meet with them and afterwards, we will decide whether we take that step. And then we will do that according to very strict regulations.”

As a US citizen, can I bring my guns and cars over?

While the most difficult part of bringing a car over from the states is shipping, importing guns is more complicated. Icelandic legislation requires gun owners to hold a firearms permit, unless the weapon has been permanently deactivated by a gunsmith.
To own a gun in Iceland, you must be at least 20 years old with no criminal record. You must pass a mental and physical health check and get recommendations from two people to attend a course on guns, gun safety, and gun and hunting laws. After passing a written test, you’re issued a permit for smaller shotguns and rifles. For larger rifles (up to 30 calibres) and semi-automatic shotguns, you must wait an additional year.
It’s prohibitedto import automatic or semi-automatic handguns to Iceland; automatic or semi-automatic rifles; automatic shotguns; and semi-automatic or manually loaded multi-cartridge shotguns with chambers for more than two cartridges, unless the weapon has been modified to comply with these conditions. Importing firearms without a manufacturer’s serial number is prohibited, but this condition can be waived when a firearm has a collectible value. Collector permits can be issued for the possession of collectible firearms with historical value.
As for cars, all imported vehicles must be cleared through customs and examined in an accredited inspection facility, and finally registered with the Icelandic Transport Authority.

You may also find the more recent Ask Iceland Review on importing guns to Iceland to be useful!

Wounded Egilsstaðir Gunman Out of ICU, In Custody

The man wounded by police in Egilsstaðir in East Iceland last week has been sentenced to two weeks of custody, RÚV reports. The investigation covers attempted manslaughter, resisting arrest, assault, threats, and offences against public safety, as well as weapon law violations and child protective violations.

Last Thursday night, Egilsstaðir inhabitants heard gunshots and notified the police. A man in his forties had gone to another man’s house, who wasn’t at home and shot a gun repeatedly in every direction. He seems to have been armed with a shotgun and possibly another weapon. The man did not obey orders to stop shooting after the police arrived on the scene, and was shot by a policeman. He survived but was transported to Reykjavík where he underwent surgery. This is the first time a general policeman shoots a firearm in the line of duty and the second time a member of the Icelandic police uses their gun.

Gunman in two-week custody

The district public prosecutor demanded protective custody on Saturday for two weeks, rÚV reports, to which the District Court agreed on the grounds of public safety.

The man is still in hospital but is out of the ICU and is now on a general ward. The investigation is going well but the office of the district public prosecutor is also investigating that part of the case concerning the police’s use of a firearm against the defendant.

Internal investigation completed

The East Iceland Police has completed their internal investigation of the incident. The Police states that nothing has been reported to suggest that the correct procedure wasn’t followed. The office of the district public prosecutor is investigating the case, both the alleged crimes of the man with the gun as well as the police shooting. They investigated the scene of the crime and examined witnesses.

The East Iceland police are grateful to everyone who assisted with the operation on Thursday night and its consequences, including crisis counselling and emotional support. The police also state that their thankful that the wounded man is healing. The police encourage everyone who believes they need assistance to contact professionals, such as the Egilsstaðir social services and the East Iceland healthcare centres.

mass crisis counselling centre was opened in the Egilsstaðir elementary school last Friday where Egilsstaðir inhabitants could receive crisis counselling and mental support. This morning teenagers in elementary school and secondary schools heard talks on how to react to events like this one and the importance of talking to the people around them if they felt bad.

Second time Icelandic Police shoot their guns

This is the first time that an ordinary policeman uses a firearm on duty in Iceland and the second time the police in Iceland have used a firearm. The first was in 2013 when a man died after being shot by a special forces policeman after shooting at the police from a window in his apartment in Reykjavík. For a few years, all police vehicles have been armed with a weapon box that can be opened with special permission from their supervisors, in this case, the East Iceland Police commissioner.

The National Police Commissioner’s Special Forces have carried weapons since 1992. They did not participate in the Thursday night operations as there was no time to get members of the team to east Iceland as the special forces team is situated in Reykjavík, leading to a general policeman shooting a man in Iceland for the first time. In order to use a firearm, policemen must have undergone special training in firearm use and have to pass a test every year. The Police Commissioner then decides which policemen they authorise to use firearms.

Police regulations on the use of force state that in a dire emergency, policemen should aim for the largest body part that is visible and try to minimise the damage they inflict, such as by shooting at a person’s legs.

Registered Guns in Iceland 69,000

guns

Just under 69,000 private firearms were registered in Iceland in July, RÚV reports. This includes just under 40,000 shotguns, 26,000 rifles and 3700 handguns. Around 1,100 sheepguns (single-shot handguns used on farms around the country) are included in the handgun number.

The aforementioned numbers include firearms that have been destroyed, deactivated, moved between countries, and exported. This includes guns brought into the country by hunters on their way to Greenland or Jan Mayen. These guns are registered on entry into the country and stay registered even though they have left. The number does not include police firearms.

Read more on Iceland’s gun culture here.