The ease of borrowing a gun from somebody in Svalbard, which basically just means telling the owner you’re fit to do so, will come to an end June 1 when a nationwide law requiring the borrower to have a permit specific to the type of weapons goes into effect.
The new law updates the Firearms Act of 1961 and will have more significant impacts for Svalbard than the mainland, Lt. Gov. Sølvi Elvedahl said in a prepared statement Friday.
“The changes in the legislation will provide better control over who has access to weapons,” she said. “As the legislation has been until June 1 of this year, only the person who lends/leases the weapon can assess whether the borrower/tenant is fit to borrow/rent the weapon, despite the fact that in practice there are very limited opportunities for to make such an assessment.”
“Considerations of social security and safe use of weapons indicate that the lender/landlord should not be responsible for assessing the borrower’s suitability. In Svalbard, this assessment according to new legislation will be left to the governor.”
Because adequate protection from polar bears is required outside Svalbard’s settled areas, most households have one or more weapons, Elvedahl said. That means the lending of weapons is also common. Under the new law, the borrower will need to document he/she has sufficient training on the firearm in question.
“This can, for example, be completed military service, activity in an approved shooting organization, enlistment on the hunter register or safety courses that provide basic knowledge about weapons,” the governor’s website notes.
The new law will make some aspects of borrowing easier, including removing the four-week limit on lending, meaning a permit must only be applied for once per weapon type, she said. Also, the governor intends to give priority to such applications to help ensure they are processed quickly.
“We clearly see that the new legislation can have practical consequences for people living on Svalbard, and we will do our part to help make the transition to new regulations as smooth as possible,” Elvedahl said.
By the way, perhaps more dear to the heart of some fervent firearm fans, the purchase of semi-automatic weapons will be banned starting June 1, 2024.