When a man dressed in a police uniform began slaughtering young people at a Norwegian summer camp last week, one of the first to be killed was a real police officer, Trond Berntsen, who for years had worked in security at the camp, says the New York Times. Facing a man carrying multiple guns and ample ammunition, there was little Berntsen could do. Like most police officers in Norway, he had no weapon.
Norwegian police officers must have authorization from their chief to gain access to a firearm, but they have rarely needed to ask, until recently. Violent crime has been steadily increasing, jolting a society used to leaving doors unlocked and children to play without fear. “Criminals are now carrying weapons, so some people now think that police officers should have weapons as well,” said Gry Jorunn Holmen, a spokeswoman for the Norwegian police union. The union had formed a commission to explore the issue. Norway is renowned for its low rates of violent crime, a fact that is a point of pride for many Norwegians. In 2009, there were 29 murders in a country of 4.6 million.