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Daily Archives: 24. June 2021 − News & Stories


New wea­pon regu­la­ti­ons

Whe­re­as most peop­le in more cen­tral parts of Euro­pe hard­ly have anything to do with fire­arms in their dai­ly life, things are dif­fe­rent in polar bear coun­try and with 5000 arms for near 2500 peop­le, Lon­gye­ar­by­en has a wea­pon den­si­ty that is pro­bab­ly not far away from Texan stan­dards. It is actual­ly not direct­ly requi­red by law to car­ry a rif­le when lea­ving the sett­le­ments as it is often ven­ti­la­ted by poor­ly infor­med media (or gui­des, unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly – click here for more about some com­mon­ly told arc­tic bull­shit sto­ries), but it is com­mon prac­ti­ce and it is gene­ral­ly stron­gly advi­sed to be pro­per­ly equip­ped when ven­tu­ring out into polar bear coun­try.

Com­mer­cial wea­pon ren­tal in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Sci­en­tists, indi­vi­du­al tou­rists and others who need, can rent wea­pons in Lon­gye­ar­by­en from aut­ho­ri­sed wea­pon dea­lers, of which the­re are two. The­re was the time when some kind of ID was enough to get a hea­vy-calibre fire­arm; but this has been histo­ry for years now: to rent a wea­pon from a com­mer­cial sup­plier, you need to have papers that you are legal­ly enti­t­led to have a wea­pon of the rele­vant kind or of a hig­her class, for examp­le a Euro­pean fire­arms pass or a hun­ting licen­se. If you do not have any of the­se or equi­va­lent, you can app­ly for per­mis­si­on from the Sys­sel­man­nen.

Bor­ro­wing wea­pons from per­sons or com­pa­nies

Until recent­ly it was, howe­ver, easy to bor­row a wea­pon from a pri­va­te per­son or, as an employee, from a com­pa­ny. The owner of the wea­pon “just” had to make sure that the bor­rower had the pro­per skills and know­ledge and was cha­rac­ter-wise able to have con­trol over such a poten­ti­al­ly let­hal wea­pon. A simp­le form had to com­ple­ted by the owner to pro­vi­de evi­dence for legal bor­ro­wing for up to 4 weeks. But this is now histo­ry.

New Nor­we­gi­an wea­pon law from 01 June

A new wea­pon law came into for­ce in Nor­way inclu­ding Spits­ber­gen on 01 June, repla­cing the pre­vious one which was from 1961. One key chan­ge is this: The respon­si­bi­li­ty to check the borrower’s appro­pria­teness to be given a wea­pon is not the owner’s any­mo­re but now lies with appro­pria­te aut­ho­ri­ties. That is the poli­ce in main­land Nor­way and the Sys­sel­man­nen (new desi­gna­ti­on from July: Sys­sel­mes­ter) in Spits­ber­gen (Sval­bard), who pro­vi­des fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on on their offi­cial web­site.

This con­di­ti­on is con­si­de­red met when the bor­rower can pro­vi­de papers that enti­t­le him or her to own a wea­pon of the kind in ques­ti­on or a hig­her-clas­sed one (yes, the­re was a simi­lar sen­tence hig­her up on this page alrea­dy). This can, for examp­le, be a Nor­we­gi­an wea­pon card or a Euro­pean fire­arm pass. The owner is obli­ga­ted to check this befo­re han­ding a wea­pon to the bor­rower. This is valid both for bor­ro­wing wea­pons bet­ween pri­va­te per­sons, for examp­le bet­ween mem­bers of one fami­ly – a com­mon prac­ti­ce in Lon­gye­ar­by­en – and wit­hin com­pa­nies, for examp­le tour ope­ra­tors who sup­ply their gui­des with rif­les, also a very com­mon prac­ti­ce in Spits­ber­gen.

Rifle, Spitsbergen

Out and on tour in Spits­ber­gen: a rif­le is usual­ly not far away.

App­ly­ing for bor­ro­wing a wea­pon

If the bor­rower does not have pro­per cer­ti­fi­ca­ti­on, then the only way to legal­ly bor­row a wea­pon is app­ly­ing for per­mis­si­on from the Sys­sel­man­nen, who will check the applicant’s gene­ral appro­pria­teness (cer­ti­fi­ca­te of good con­duct) and the rele­vant skills and know­ledge (“til­strek­ke­lig våpen­d­ugleik”) to hand­le a wea­pon. Accord­ing to the Sys­sel­man­nen, this can be done by pro­vi­ding evi­dence for having done mili­ta­ry ser­vice, acti­ve mem­bers­hip in a shoo­ting club or a safe­ty cour­se that inclu­des wea­pon hand­ling such as, for examp­le, the cour­ses usual­ly pro­vi­ded by UNIS in Lon­gye­ar­by­en to their stu­dents and employees. The app­li­ca­ti­on cos­ts 248 kro­ner (near 25 Euro). Click here to access an app­li­ca­ti­on form, app­li­ca­ti­ons by email are not accep­ted.

That’s the theo­ry. In prac­ti­ce, ques­ti­ons remain open: do offi­cial docu­ments such as a cer­ti­fi­ca­te of good con­duct need (appro­ved) trans­la­ti­on and which docu­ments exact­ly are accep­ted or not. I have sent a ques­ti­on cata­lo­gue to the Sys­sel­man­nen and pro­vi­de updates here as more infor­ma­ti­on beco­mes avail­ab­le.

Bor­ro­wing ver­sus ren­ting

Com­mer­cial wea­pon ren­tal (Nor­we­gi­an: utleie) is for­bid­den for pri­va­te per­sons and most com­pa­nies. Only aut­ho­ri­sed wea­pon dea­lers may offer wea­pons for ren­tal on a com­mer­cial basis.

Deter­rents remain com­pul­so­ry

All this does not touch the legal requi­re­ment to car­ry an appro­pria­te deter­rent such as a signal pis­tol becau­se polar bears are strict­ly pro­tec­ted and may not just be shot. Ever­ything must be done to avoid dan­ge­rous encoun­ters or, if it hap­pens any­way, to avoid shoo­ting a polar bear as long as human life is safe. Pep­per spray is, howe­ver, not legal­ly avail­ab­le in Nor­way inclu­ding Spits­ber­gen. In cer­tain situa­tions, for examp­le from the rela­ti­ve safe­ty of a hut or even a tent, pep­per spray could be hel­pful to sca­re a polar bear away effi­ci­ent­ly and for good, thus poten­ti­al­ly avoiding a situa­ti­on whe­re a bear might be shot.

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News-Listing live generated at 2021/September/18 at 01:15:07 Uhr (GMT+1)
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