One of the weapons used in February’s terror attack in Copenhagen was an M95 rifle that had previously been stolen from the home of a Danish Home Guard (Hjemmeværnet) member.
As a result, the Home Guard has now decided that it will temporarily require all Home Guard members to turn in the bolts to their rifles, making them unable to be fired.
Over 4,300 volunteer members have a Home Guard issued weapon and they now have until March 30th to turn in their bolts, which will be stored in central depots across the country. The military service says it will then implement a long-term solution for dealing with members’ weapons.
“In light of the tragic events on February 14-15, 2015, the Home Guard is implementing these security measures until the Home Guard has found the proper solution,” Home Guard General Major Finn Winkler said in a statement.
In addition to being asked to disarm their rifles, the Home Guard members will also be subjected to periodic visits from controllers who will check that the weapons are stored safely and properly.
Prior to the new measures, members were already required to store their rifle and bolt separately behind lock and key. But thieves have managed to get their hands on the military weapons and one of the stolen rifles was used by Omar el-Hussein in the twin shootings that killed two men and injured six police officers in Copenhagen last month.
The new announcement of the Home Guard measures created a rift within parliament.
While Defence Minister Nicolai Wammen expressed his “full trust” in the Home Guard, many opposition MPs criticized the decision.
“When one hands in their bolt, it’s the same as handing in their weapon. So it is basically saying that now our Home Guard is unarmed. I think that is the wrong decision,” Danish People’s Party spokeswoman Marie Krarup told DR.
Troels Lund Poulsen, a spokesman for primary opposition party Venstre, told Berlingske it was “insane” to implement what he characterized as a drastic decision, while Holger Nielsen of the left-wing Socialist People’s Party countered that disarming Home Guard members was “sensible”.