A government-appointed commission advised Justice Minister Per-Willy Amundsen on Wednesday against re-arming police with guns. The commission recommends trying out electric-shock weapons instead of firearms, so that police on patrol can have new tactical weapons that are less deadly.
The government appointed the commission to evaluate current practices among Norway’s unarmed police, and to consider whether that should be changed. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Wednesday that their conclusion runs counter to what the police themselves recommend, and that’s to be able to regularly carry firearms.
Norway’s state police force has traditionally been unarmed, but that changed between November 2014 and February 2016, when a higher threat level prompted former Justice Minister Anders Anundsen of the Progress Party to arm police at all times for a limited period and then kept extending it.
Anundsen’s successor, also from the Progress Party, was handed the new recommendation amidst immediate objections from the leader of the police officers’ union, Sigve Bolstad, and the former head of Norway’s special police unit known as beredskapstroppen, Anders Snortheimsmoen, both of whom think Norwegian police should be armed. Elected officials, however, have always been resistant to allowing police to be armed on a permanent basis, even though the general public responded favourably to the period of arming.
“I think this is a good conclusion from the profressional commission,” Knut Arild Hareide, leader of the Christian Democrats, told NRK. “I don’t want armed police.”