As debate continues over whether Norwegian police should continue to be allowed to carry weapons, the government and police officials apparently tried to meet critics halfway this week by deciding that the pistols and their ammunition should be carried separately.
The government decided to extend until December 10 what they call the “temporary” allowance for armed police in Norway, first introduced last year after the terror threat was heightened. In an unusual twist, though, the weapons carried by police won’t be loaded.
Newspaper Dagbladet reported that while the pistols will be carried in a holster on one leg, the ammunition for them will be carried on the other leg. The justice ministry confirmed that the weapons and ammunition will be separated, in line with a recommendation from the police directorate.
Reaction has been mixed, with police administrators pleased and promising training in quick loading under pressure. Critics who think Norwegian police should remain unarmed are not satisfied, while representatives for police view the order to carry unloaded guns as a sign of lack of confidence. There have been a few accidents and disputed incidents of police shootings in recent months, but an earlier study showed fewer overall shootings since police were armed at all times. Prior to that, they only armed themselves in special, threatening situations.