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EXPLAINED: How gun control laws work in Denmark

The deadly shooting in a Copenhagen shopping mall and the fact the gunman did not have a firearms permit, has attracted attention abroad around Denmark's gun laws, which are some of the strictest in Europe.

EXPLAINED: How gun control laws work in Denmark
Photo of a rifle by Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

What does the law say?

Gun law in Denmark is regulated by the Ministry of Justice and the European Commission.

In Denmark, you are not permitted to acquire, possess, carry or use firearms or dangerous weapons and knives if you do not have a police permit.

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Denmark have to show a genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example hunting, target shooting, collection.

Police carry out checks to decide whether it is safe to grant a person a permit and they are entered into records so everyone’s arms are accounted for.

Only licensed individuals may own or transfer a gun and ammunition and can only purchase ammunition that matches the firearm they own, according to Gunpolicy.org, an organisation that tracks international firearm policy,

If someone wants to use a weapon to go hunting, they must have at least passed a hunting test (jagtprøve) and a shooting test (haglskydeprøve).

Civilians are not allowed to possess automatic firearms and private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons and handguns is permitted only with special authorisation.

According to Gunpolicy.org, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm is four months to two years in prison.

Age

You must be over 20 years old  and have been an active member of a shooting association for at least two years, to be able to buy a gun. You must be 18 years old to be able to buy a rifle. However, people up to the age of 16 can be allowed to own a rifle if they have the consent of their parents.

How many guns are there in Denmark?

According to Gunpolicy.org, the number of registered guns in Denmark was reported to be 340,000 in 2017. In a 2007 comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Denmark ranked at 69.

The percentage of adults living in a household with a firearm was reported to be 7 per cent in 2015.

Deaths from guns

According to Gunpolicy.org, there were 64 deaths from firearms in Denmark in 2018.

Reacting to the news of Sunday’s shootings, US Congresswoman Lauren Boebert – a Republican and a gun rights activist said this was evidence that America had taken the right approach to firearms control.

“There was just a mass shooting in Denmark, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s time to admit that gun laws DO NOT stop mass shootings!”

However mass shootings in Denmark are extremely rare. The Copenhagen shootings on 3rd July 2022 was the first mass shooting for 7 years. In 2015, two people were killed and five police officers injured in a series of Islamist-motivated shootings at a cultural centre and synagogue in Copenhagen.

In Denmark, there are a calculated 0.141 shootings per 100,000 inhabitants a year. That compares with just under 4 shootings per. 100,000 inhabitants a year in America, according the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation, United Nations.

On Monday Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said there would be discussions over whether or not to tighten Denmark’s gun laws but that now was the time to remember the victims.

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CRIME

Former head of Danish intelligence charged over leaks

Danish prosecutors on Friday charged the country's former military intelligence chief with leaking state secrets, following a scandal over Denmark's cooperation with US intelligence.

Former head of Danish intelligence charged over leaks
The prosecution authority said Lars Findsen was accused of “having divulged secrets important to national security on several occasions and… under particularly aggravated circumstances”.
 
The details of the investigation are classified, but the case comes after Danish media reported that the Danish intelligence services had cooperated with the US National Security Agency (NSA).
 

Findsen, who was suspended in August 2020 without public explanation, was subsequently held in custody from December 2021 to February 2022. He insists he is innocent.

 
“I never divulged any state secrets. I reject the allegations”, he told Danish news agency Ritzau in June, criticising the handling of the case as “ridiculous”.
 

Prosecutors accuse Findsen of leaking state secrets and other confidential information after his suspension to six people, including two journalists, over a period of up to 17 months.

 
The leaks could “harm relations with other intelligence service partners and make their work more difficult if their work methods were revealed”, prosecutor Jakob Berger Nielsen said.
 
“Trust in the (Danish) intelligence service’s ability to protect sensitive information may have been weakened,” he added.
 
The prosecution said it would request a trial behind closed doors. A date has yet to be set.
 
While Denmark never publicly revealed why Findsen and the other agents were suspended, there have been suspicions that his service conducted illegal surveillance.
 
The government accused them of hiding “crucial information” and providing “false information to the authorities” between 2014 and 2020.
 
In May 2021, an investigation by several Danish media revealed that the NSA used Danish underwater cables to spy on officials in France, Germany, Norway and Sweden until at least 2014.
 
Former German chancellor Angela Merkel was among the NSA’s targets.
 
The revelations sparked an international scandal and the four countries demanded explanations from Washington and Copenhagen.
 
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