Iceland’s Privately Owned Firearms, By The Numbers

    Iceland's Firearms By The Numbers

    The Icelandic Police have released the registration numbers for Iceland’s privately-owned firearms by type.  The numbers released were compiled from 2010 to 2019.  On the surface, it appears that firearm registration numbers are declining compared to previous years, though it’s not immediately clear what the cause is.

    The following tables are from the Icelandic Police website. For those that don’t speak fluent Icelandic (myself included), haglabyssur means shotgun, skammbyssur means pistols, and rifflar means rifle. The first table reflects the registrations by firearm type. 2019’s registrations are from July of this year, and may not fully reflect the entire year’s registration.

    Iceland's privately owned firearms

    The next table shows the number of “A licenses” applied for by year.  These numbers don’t reflect licenses already in existance, only licenses newly-applied for.  As of July, the total number of “A licenses” equal 14,997.

    Iceland's privately owned firearms

    The final table shows the total number of registered firearms by type currently on record (as of July, 2019).

    Iceland's privately owned firearms

    ** Money guns are included in the total, at least 1115 guns are so-called money guns.

    The double asterisked note about “money guns” is a little confusing.  I’m quite certain that they aren’t referring to “cash cannons” that shoot paper money into the air.  If there are any Icelanders that can help us understand the term, I’d be very appreciative.

    As previously mentioned, Iceland’s overall firearm ownership appears to be in slight decline as compared to a report from 2017, which showed the number of registered firearms around 73,000.  The number from the third table above shows the 2019 figures at 68,734.  Another article from the Reykjavic Grapevine detailed the estimated number of 30,000 non-registered firearms in Iceland.

    The following is from the Reykjavic Grapevine describing how one acquires a firearm license in Iceland:

    “In order to get a gun and a hunting licence, Icelanders have to do paperwork for the police, the magistrate, and even the Environment Agency of Iceland. Prospective gun owners need to prove they have no criminal record. They need to be evaluated by a doctor to prove they are of sound mind and have good enough eyesight. They have to buy and read two books, attend a three-day course and score at least 75% on exams regarding gun safety, management, what animals are allowed to be hunted and when, and so on. Then there’s a practical exam to prove they know how to handle a gun safely. Once Icelanders finally have their licence, they need to prove they have a gun safe to lock the weapons in, plus a separate place away from the gun safe to lock the ammunition.”

    What do you think about Iceland’s privately owned firearm numbers?  Are there any Icelandic TFB readers that may be able to help us with cultural, practical or legal explanations for an apparent decline?

    Doug E

    Doug has been a firearms enthusiast since age 16 after getting to shoot with a friend. Since then he’s taken many others out to the range for their first time. He is a husband, father, grandfather, police officer, outdoorsman, artist and a student of history. Doug has been a TFB reader from the start and is happy to be a contributor of content. Doug can be reached at battleshipgrey61 AT, or battleshipgrey61 on Instagram.