Why Norway’s Bow And Arrow Attack That Killed 5 People Isn’t A Good Argument Against Gun Control

Photo: YouTube
Lauren Boebart, Norway Bow And Arrow Attack

A man armed with a bow and arrow launched a series of attacks in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg on Wednesday, killing five people and wounding two others.

One of the two injured was an off-duty police officer who was inside of the shop at the time of the attack — the survivors were taken to a hospital and remain in intensive care while the suspect has been apprehended and awaits questioning.

While the attack is already being spun into an argument against gun control, this stance completely misses the point. 

Here’s why the bow and arrow attack in Norway isn’t a good argument against gun control

The gun laws in Norway are very strict, regularly regulated, and work very well for the 5 million people who live there.

Automatic weapons are prohibited to citizens unless they are collectors, the youngest age anyone can own a handgun is 21, and there are only a couple of reasons a citizen can get a gun in the first place.

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Rifles and shotguns make up most of the 1.3 million guns registered in Norway — as of 2017 — but the process for gun ownership, storage, and transportation are very complicated.

One of the ways someone could apply for gun ownership is through a hunting license. To obtain one, you must take a 30-hour, 9-session course and pass a written multiple-choice exam.

If they pass the evaluation, they receive their hunting license — which must be renewed every year — and are allowed to purchase a firearm.

The second way is by applying as a sporting shooter — a process that involves a 9-hour course with a written exam and doesn’t allow you to own a personal firearm until 6 months of active training and competition.

Guns that are owned by civilians must be kept in an approved gun safe that requires an inspection from police, and can only be transported while completely concealed and unloaded on the way to a range, a hunting area, for repairs, or for maintenance.

Gun attacks are rare in Norway.

The last time an attack this deadly occurred in Norway was 10 years ago when far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people through the use of a fertilizer bomb and two guns obtained legally.

Since then, firearms have not killed more than 5 people within a recorded year and even hit 0 deaths in the year 2017.

Outgoing prime minister Erna Solberg noted in a press conference that mass killings in Norway were rare, and that police now have it under control.

Police are normally unarmed in the country but were told to carry in order to attempt apprehending the attacker, who worked alone to conduct the act.

Lauren Boebert's anti-gun control argument is ill-informed. 

Lauren Boebert, a far-right politician and representative of Colorado's 3rd congressional district, went to Twitter to share her opinions on gun control in relation to the attack.

According to Boebert, guns aren’t the reason mass killings occur, people are. But both can be true.

The whole purpose of gun control is to remove the option for those who wish to harm others in using things like automatic rifles and to enforce harsher background checks and restrictions on who can own them, why, and how.

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In 2017 — the same year Norway recorded 0 firearm deaths — Stephen Paddock used 24 guns to fire more than 1,000 bullets, killing 60 people and injuring 867 at a concert in Las Vegas.

This remains to be the deadliest mass shooting in the country.

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But in order to argue for gun control, we can’t only look at the mass killings that occur at a frequency that has tripled since 2011

We should also look at the prevalence of firearm deaths in the US and compare it to another country — like Norway for the sake of the argument.

Norway's gun laws have saved lives — unlike the U.S. 

In 2014, the Norway population was just over 5 million. In that same year, they reported 5 deaths by firearms — the most reported in the country since the attack in 2011.

That means, that 1 in 1 million people died through the use of firearms that year.

In 2020, the United States population was 329.5 million. That same year, we saw 19,442 deaths by firearm — the most in nearly two decades.

That means, that 1 in 17,000 people died through the use of firearms that year.

Imagine if the bow and arrow attacker had a gun and went on a shooting spree instead. Of course, we’ll never know, but it’s not hard to imagine that the damage wouldn’t have been worse.

Strict firearm regulation is common in many countries across Europe, and nowhere sees mass shootings happen as frequently as they do in the U.S.

The attack in Norway was a tragedy, but it isn’t the best example for an argument against gun control in the United States.

Instead, we should be discussing how we can emulate Norway's efforts to reduce gun deaths and what we can learn from these kind of tragic attacks.  

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.