Norway’s conservative minority government has signaled that it plans to withdraw its proposal for a new law that would allow the country’s state police force to be generally armed at all times. The Conservatives and the Progress Party haven’t received backing for the measure from their two support parties, meaning they won’t have a majority in Parliament.
The opposition had already turned down the proposal for police to remain armed beyond expiration of a current measure that has allowed them to carry weapons since the terror threat against Norway rose last year.
“The question of general arming of our police must be debated in Parliament and can’t be decided by the government alone,” Iselin Nybø, a Member of Parliament for one of the government’s support parties, the Liberals, told newspaper Dagsavisen. Neither the Liberals nor the other support party, the Christian Democrats, favour armed police at all times. That gives the Labour Party and other members of the opposition in Parliament enough votes to reject the government proposal.
“The Labour Party is against general arming because it will lead to more shooting,” said Labour MP Hadia Tajik, who also leads the justice committee in Parliament. “More people could be injured and killed.”
Tajik doesn’t think Norwegian society would become safer with more weapons on the streets. Thomas Hegghammer, a researcher specializing in terrorism at the military research institute FFI (Forsvarets forskningsinstitutt), agreed that arming the police would have little effect on preventing a terrorist attack.
“Armed police on the streets haven’t stopped terror in Europe for the past 15 years,” Hegghammer told Dagsavisen. He noted that the armed police who arrived at the scene of the recent attack in Paris were no match against the heavily armed terrorists.
The Norwegian police themselves have come to favour arming after earlier resistance. Police leadership, however, has opposed it.