Norwegian island, firearms mandatory to carry

polar-bear-hero

Outdoorhub just posted this link to a news report about the Svalbard island in Norway where it is legally mandatory to carry a firearm while on the island. I couldn’t find any further news reports other than this one to back it up, or how seriously it is enforced. The reporter mentions the one county in Colorado where firearms ownership is mandatory, but concealed/open carry actually isn’t mandatory. In addition the law isn’t very enforced, and is more of a political statement. Whereas on this island, the regulation is highly enforced. It made note of the tragic accident in 2011 in which a child was killed by a bear while camping. However, the issue with that tragedy was that the guide did have a Mauser with him, but didn’t know how to properly use it, thus resulting in it not being brought to bear (literally). Eventually someone competent enough got ahold of the rifle and killed the polar bear, after the damage had been done. The report mentions that if tourists can’t or aren’t competent enough to handle firearms, they have to hire a guide who is.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Forest C. Adcock

    If they could get rid of the cold, I’d be ok calling it home. Who needs the right to be able to own a firearm when you have the legal responsibility to own one!

    Obamacare for guns!

    • Ripley

      It’s hunting rifles only on Svalbard, and only with a valid hunting license and clean record.

      • Sarig

        This is wrong. You need a valid reason to own a firearm, and while for the rest of Norway that means a hunting licence or doing competitions, on Svalbard “Self-defence against polar bears” is reason enough.

      • Sarig

        Also, I know people who carry revolvers.

        • Giolli Joker

          I’ve seen a documentary on NatGeo about a person killed by a polar bear on Svalbard, he had “defended” himself with a .22LR revolver…

          • Zebra Dun

            The Aleuts kill the polar bears all the time with .22 lr.
            They shoot them multiple times in the guts and then run away while the bear bleeds to death or dies from infection chasing them.

          • Giolli Joker

            Are they forbidden to use more suitable firearms? That sounds like a painful torture for such majestic animal, I understand the need to hunt it but…
            Btw, I have no doubt that you can kill a bear with a 22LR, but that is “hunting”, self defense when the bear is few meters from you is definitely something else.
            I guess the guy in the documentary I saw didn’t like nor know guns, he just carried something light because he had to, and he paid the price of such choice.

          • Leigh Rich

            Save the Polar Bear. Stop global warming and their slauter

          • Zebra Dun

            Last I heard in ten years there will be a mini Ice Age.
            IE: Slaughter, think Laughter with a S attached.

          • Zebra Dun

            They also take seal meat, warm and take a sharp fresh bone also warm, bend it into a sharp spring like device, tie it together with sinew then place it in the seal meat, let it freeze solid and place it where a Polar bear can find it.
            Bear eats meat, sinew dissolves, bone springs open and guts bear or stops up bowel movement, the Inuit follow the bear and wait for it to die.
            Yes, this is hunting Eskimo style.
            —–
            These are Aleuts, Inuit and arctic circle people, this is not for sport, this is to survive, either for bear skins, bear meat, or just to cull the number of Eskimo eating bears.
            ——-
            A Cousin was station in Alaska, married a native Alaskan woman and tells of bears, in his tank park, at night and leaving his tanks running all winter long just to stay operational.
            The key word here is, ALASKA merciless, tough, rough and cold, Native Alaskan, Polar bears and survival.

          • Lockmazter

            “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun YOU!”

          • Zebra Dun

            “YIKES!” I’m already runni’ LOL

      • Nebelwerfer

        If you own a handgun for sporting purposes, you can carry it for polar bear defense, however, you will not be given a handgun license for any other reason than competition shooting (with the same 6 month “trainee” period as in mainland Norway). For self defense against bears, you can have a hunting rifle or suitable shotgun (pump action with slugs). The K98kF1 in 30-06 is dirt cheap, and well suited for the task if you know how to use it.

      • Y-man

        Bolt action? What about pump action or lever action?

  • noob

    hmm. maybe it is rigorously enforced by the law of the jungle. (or the tundra)

  • Sarig

    You need permission from Sysselmannen (basically the governor) to be allowed to leave a settlement, and to leave one it’s mandatory to bring and be proficient with something that can kill a polar bear.

    If you’re not allowed to or not qualified to carry a firearm, and you can’t hire someone to go with you, you can’t leave the settlement, because you’ll get eaten.

    • Pshhh. Americans don’t need guns to kill bears.

      • M.M.D.C.

        “Without” Without in the figurative sense? Ironically? Dubiously? What?!?!

      • Giolli Joker

        Impressive.
        That is some serious jaw strength for a puny human.
        I’d suppose that he got the bear in a position that kind of puzzled it and made it unable to fight back… damn, their neck strength alone is enough to throw people in the air.

      • Tassiebush

        Wow he killed it bear handed…

        • Panzercat

          I’m not sure its fair to kill a bear with a bear. Or even the use of bear parts, for that matter.

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah it’s an interesting issue whether it’s fair or not. I think the right to bear arms is important though. Whether you use them or not.

      • Zebra Dun

        Wasn’t it Davy Crockett what grinned a bear to death?

  • iksnilol

    It is enforced. Though don’t think you can bring your AR-15 or other wimpy rifle. 308 and 30-06 is considered the minimum there. Personally I believe something like the 9.3×64 Dragunov would be nice there. Just gotta remember to keep the guns cold or else the transition between hot and cold will eventually f*** them up.

    • Sulaco

      .450 Marlin or .45-70 would be handy…

      • Anonymoose

        Why not full-on .458 Winchester? 😀

        • David Sharpe

          .458 Lott.

        • Giolli Joker

          In a Garand?

        • iksnilol

          Because I am not really made of money?

          S***, if you can afford it knock yourself out. Just consider that most semi-auto guns are illegal in Norway. I doubt you could get a Garand legally, I know you can’t get them for hunting so I doubt you could get them for polar bear defense. Doesn’t hurt to try though.

    • Zebra Dun

      I’ll bring my Biggest firearm if you please LOL would a Thump gun be illegal?

      • iksnilol

        I don’t think the Norwegians take too kindly to explosives.

        • Zebra Dun

          Dang, That’s my favorite Bear gun, Oh well Guess I’ll have to finally buy a Mosin Nagant!

    • Y-man

      For my layman’s understanding [I live in the Tropics] So: if you fire a COLD gun a few times, it blows up? Or barrel flexes and you lose accuracy?

      What happens if you don’t keep the guns cold?

      • iksnilol

        Nothing that serious, it simply freezes from what I understand. As in it freezes shut. If I recall correctly it is because when bringing the firearm into a warm area the heat causes moisture (there is moisture in the air + snow itself) to gather/form on and in it (a bit hard to explain, this is my third language). So keeping it in the cold at all times helps prevent this.

        It is recommended to use lubrication that won’t become gel-like or freeze in sub-zero weather (for obvious reasons). What my friends in the millitary recommended was grease or was it graphite lube, don’t use too much lubrication. They also recommended keeping a round chambered. In case it does freeze shut you can fire off a round to free the action.

        Though take my stuff with a grain of salt, the worst I experience is minus 20-30 degrees Celsius. If you are going somewhere really cold ask around, especially millitary people might have useful info.

        • Ripley

          Break-free CLP is commonly used in military rifles. It was developed by US mil to work in any climate but is used worldwide today by both militaries and civilians. It is rated down to -60C. I have used it in -20 with no problems.

          What you said. The trigger mechanism or firing pin could freeze together. But what is more dangerous is if you are out hunting carrying your rifle on your back barrel up and get snow in it perhaps from walking under snow covered trees. Then you go into your hunting lodge and don’t notice it and it will thaw, then you go out next day and soon your barrel will have a solid bit of ice blocking it.

          • iksnilol

            If you get a bore obstruction, then it might blow up. I can see how that would happen.

            Reminds me of the 2011 Svalbard polar bear attack. At first they thought the firing pin froze or something (4 shots failed to fire, considering it is a Mauser this was worrisome). The investigation revealed that they simply had the safety on (makes me a bit leery of safeties that allow manipulation of the bolt).

  • Aaron

    They need a few SCAR Hs, i’d sleep like a baby.

    • iksnilol

      Just remember to keep it outside in the cold.

  • Will

    On the other hand people could just stay off the island and leave the Polar Bears to their habitat. As we all know Polar Bears have no natural enemies, except man, therefore everything they see moving is a potential meal for them.
    Why kill a bear for being a bear????

    • Sulaco

      See above comments on this stance by Sarig, going greenie in this situation is not logical or possible. Try again.

      • Zebra Dun

        You cannot argue with a greenie or a bear lover, see Timothy Treadwell and girl friend for reference.

        • floppyscience

          Not all bear lovers are hippies. I’m a bear lover, but I wouldn’t let one kill me because “it’s just being a bear”.

          • Zebra Dun

            I agree completely, I love animals, not just to eat either!
            Currently I own two horses, five dogs and feed Deer back on the property and furnish salt, I seed plots of mast for the turkey herd which I don’t cull.
            I feed the song birds and tolerate the squirrels which I do cull (Ilove Mom’s recipe for rabbit and squirrel dumplin’ M.O.O.N. That spells Yum Yum!)
            I admire the Bears, their strength and beauty are magnificent, the ones we have around here are the Black Bears so they are not the danger of the Grizzly and Polar bears.
            I would not go looking for a fight or for sport to kill one.
            As a Matter of fact, one of the dogs is a Great Pyrenees and he is named Bear.

            While I would admire one I wouldn’t let one eat me just because it’s a beautiful and magnificent creature.

    • Zebra Dun

      Kindergarten teachers guard the children on the playgrounds with guns against Polar bears.
      Just because you stay away from them and their areas doesn’t mean the bear won’t come looking for a greenie meal in town, unless your going to give up the entire country for the bears to roam?
      Kinda dumb giving up your home so bears can roam.
      You do it first Bubba.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    If the only reason to go to the island is camping and hiking then people should stay off of it and let the bears have their space. I think its sad to kill an animal like that just so somebody can walk around in the woods.

    • Sarig

      I mean, a five second google would’ve been faster than writing your comment, but I’ll make a small effort on enlightening you anyway.

      Both Norway and Russia have coal industry there, so a few thousand permanent residents (most staying for 1-6 years, though a few decades), and as such geologists are also running around everywhere, to the point that there’s a branch of the University of Tromsø up there to do research.

      And any time a polar bear is shot, there’s an investigation to see if the incident could have been avoided. It’s illegal to seek them out.

      (Also, there’s no woods there).

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Lets all give a big hand to the resident Norwegian Coal Industry Expert.
        Tomorrow night he’ll be a special guest on “Late Night With Things Nobody Cares About”.

        • Llewellyn Franks

          You were wrong and they corrected you, no reason to be rude about it. Im sure your parents raised you to be better than this.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            He still sounds like a douche.

          • G0rdon_Fr33man

            So do you…

          • David Sharpe

            For correcting you? Okay……….

          • OBlamo Binlyen

            There is a huge difference between sounding like one and being one.

        • CallnIT

          “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

          • Zebra Dun

            He’s come down with RUNOFT at the mouth disease.

    • Zebra Dun

      Hmmmm, M.O.O.N. that spells stupid.
      They live there, the bears live there the bears get hungry and eat the people who don’t carry guns not just in the woods but at the nursery schools and streets as well as the homes and businesses.

      thanks to Johar for quote above: “lovely gruff people, it is funny to see kindergarten teachers standing
      guard in front of the fence, looks like a prison for toddlers, one of the
      ladies had shot 2 bears in her career, on at point blank. easy to see
      the viking heritage”

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Try spellcheck before you run around calling people stupid, genius.

        • Zebra Dun

          I did not call you stupid…stupid.

  • jamezb

    Actually,,it IS enforced…by the bears. The penalty for a violation ranges from forfeiture of belongings to summary execution.

  • kipy

    Wonder if bear mace is like rubbing tobasco sauce on yourself to polar bears

    • Bear The Grizzly

      For most bears this is not true at all, but polar bears tend to operate a little different. They usually play for keeps since their meals don’t come easy. If they make the decision that you’re lunch, there isn’t much that will make them change their minds.

      • Bill

        They are also apex predators, that eat anything they want.

  • GearHead

    I’d love to bring my SR-25 EMC, but it’s fairly heavy to hump around all day. I wonder if .300 Blkout would be enough though because that Mini 14 in .300blk out looks pretty nice. =)

    • Bill

      No. It wouldn’t be enough.

    • OBlamo Binlyen

      Maybe a 60 round mag on full auto, but odds are it’d just pizz off the bear enough to ignore proper wine paring.

  • Jim_Macklin

    I wonder if an American tourist can bring their personal S&W 500 or 460?
    Polar bears are a top predator, they kill and eat anything. They have no fear and are always hungry.

    • Nebelwerfer

      You can’t. You’d need an invitation to a Magnum 2 shooting competition where you are eligible to compete (you have to be member of the Norwegian sport shooting federation). 460 is legal for Magnum 2, but 500 (any handgun with a bullet diameter above 0,455″) is considered an evil armor piercing cop killer anti-tank weapon by our dear politicians and high ranking police officials.

      • Jim_Macklin

        Too bad Norway has forgotten its heritage. Thor carried a 1911 Hammer, recreated by Guncrafters. They call it the 50 GI.

        • Giolli Joker

          .50GI: Designed by a Danish guy emigrated to the USA… Greenland is part of Denmark, Danish patrol forces in Greenland carry Glock 20 (10 Auto) as last bear defense.
          Digression aside, the .50GI is a super-sized .45ACP, big bullet but not that much power, designed to stop much less hairy bipedal threats.

          • Jim_Macklin

            Yeah, I know. Big slow bullet,antipersonnel w/o Kevlar shirt. I shot a Tonka toy with a 34 ACP 230 G.I. load. Made a big dent but did nor even crack the sheet meal. 9mm NATO [9×19 Luger] does better on sheet metal, not as well on muscle and bone.
            Ruger 480 uses a .475 inch bullet at moderate velocity, less recoil than a 454 Casul or 460 S&W, way less than 500 S&W.

    • Zebra Dun

      I would imagine Bear guns are rented by the stores that can and to the people able to use them.

  • Zebra Dun

    If I am where there are wandering or hunting polar, grizzly bears I am going to be armed, I have the target area for instant kills already locked away in my mind.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      Sure you do, Polar Bear Dundee.

      • Zebra Dun

        Up the nose Bubba, works ever time into the sinus cavity.
        M. O. O. N. That spells curtains…stupid.

        • TheNotoriousIUD

          Whatever, tough guy.
          You’d be leaking worse than the Iraqi Navy if you saw a polar bear at the zoo.

          • Zebra Dun

            I’ve seen polar bears at the Zoo, I don’t leak that easy, USMC Rifleman in my callow youth.
            Never said I was a tough guy, you read too much into comments and go looking for fight where there is no fight to be had, Chill out Bubba.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Fair enough, sorry if I misconstrued your original comment.

          • Zebra Dun

            Good to go Buddy!

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Because its hilarious when people act like they deserve a Nobel Prize for googling something.

    • 000BK

      “It’s,” not, “its.” Genius.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Wow, you guys are really crying like a little girl with a skinned knee, lol.

        • Y-man

          Is that YOUR fetish? Little girls with skinned knees?

          TROLL ALERT!

  • Robert Griffith

    Yes, it is true that while on Svalbard if you venture outside the settlement you must be armed with a rifle capable of dispatching a polar bear. If you are unable or unwilling to do so you must hire an armed escort or be good friends with someone who can and will carry the rifle. In order to be able to carry the rifle you must demonstrate competency with the rifle you intend to carry in order to get a license. It is nothing like the open carry of rifles in places like Alaska, where large bears are also a constant threat. Norway has some of the loosest firearms restrictions in Europe but they are still quite strict when compared to America.

  • Leigh Rich

    The bear was there first.Man needs to move.

  • scaatylobo

    Must be very amusing and really scary to those not used to being around any firearms.
    Especially if your life depends on its use.

  • Jesper Rex Andersen

    I live in Greenland, and in the Eastern and Northern part of Greenland, Polar Bears are quite common. It is recommended to carry a rifle for protection, but not Mandatory.

    When working in Polar Bear areas, some companies makes it Mandatory for their workers, to carry a rifle, whenever they are outdoors.

    Typically, the workers that don’t bring their own rifles (30-06 or larger) are supplied with an old Greenlandised Enfield M1917 (Rear ghost ring sight ground off, and a Sight Blade is installed in front of the action.)

    I have a friend, that worked as a translator, in the local Hospital.
    They had an Inuit Hunter, that had been out for Seals, on the winter Ice, with his Dog Sled.
    When arriving to a Seal Breathing Hole, He was surprised, by a young Polar Bear, waiting for a Seal.
    He killed it, with his knife, and was mauled, in the progress.
    After killing it, He made some temporary bandages, skinned and packed the bear.. Then He drove his Dogsled 2 days to get home(Qaanaaq), and from there He was flown to the Hospital in Nuuk, nearly a 1000 miles away.

    When you are out in the winter, everything is white, and there is just a tiny bit of snow in the air, then a Polar Bear, waiting motionless, for a Seal is practically invissible. It is just another block of ice.
    [Sorry, English isn’t my primary language]

  • William Wallace

    Robbery of tourists on that island will be nil. That’s for sure.

  • Lockmazter

    Reminds me of the old saying, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun YOU!”