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Norway to ban semi-automatic weapons from 2021

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By Sallyann Nicholls
Norway to ban semi-automatic weapons from 2021
Copyright  Reuters/Scanpix Norway

Lawmakers in Norway are set to ban semi-automatic weapons in the country from 2021.

The ban, which has been proposed by the country’s centre-right government, also seeks to limit the number of firearms people can own.

Private persons "should not have the right in Norway to access such weapons," said Peter Frolich of the Norwegian Parliament's judicial affairs committee.

A vote on the draft law has not yet been set, although "a broad majority" of Norway’s 169-seat parliament backed it, Frolich added.

It is not yet known how the bill would affect hunters, but it allows some exemptions for shooting sports.

The development comes seven years after Anders Breivik murdered 8 people in a car bomb attack in Oslo, and 61 others in a gun assault on Utoya island on July 22, 2011.

The right-wing extremist used a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle and Glock pistol to shoot most of his victims. He is currently serving 21 years behind bars for the killings.

The proposed ban follows recommendations made by a commission that assessed Norway’s terror preparedness one year after the massacre. The 500-page report called on lawmakers to ban semi-automatic weapons, as well as limit ownership of firearms and increase background checks for people requesting firearms permits. Breivik acquired his weapons legally, but purchased some ammunition from the United States.

"This decision is a very good thing, even if it comes belatedly," said victim support group head Lisbeth Kristine Royneland, whose daughter was among Breivik’s victims.