Snorri Magnússon, chair of the Police Federation of Iceland, said in an interview with mbl.is that the police force in Iceland has had machine guns for many years but needed to renew its stock of weapons. He stressed that there has been no fundamental change in the police’s policy on carrying weapons as far as he was aware and described the current discussion about the issue as “misguided.”
As reported, 60 Heckler & Koch MP5 machine guns, bought at market price, were sent to Iceland from Norway in the summer of 2013 and 150 MP5s, a gift from Norway, arrived at the beginning of this year. Iceland reportedly paid for the delivery of the 150 guns. It has also been reported that the plan was for the guns to be placed in every police car in Iceland. General police officers in Iceland have until now been unarmed.
Parliamentarians have voiced their shock over the issue in Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament. They had not been made aware that there were plans for the Icelandic police to carry such weapons and had not been given the opportunity to debate the issue.
Over 7,600 people have ‘liked’ a Facebook page ‘Return the Guns’ set up in protest over the issue.
Earlier today, visir.is reported that all police authorities in the country sent their officers to a course on how to use the guns. The two-day courses are said to have taken place in Keflavík from September until mid-October.
According to Snorri, police officers had called for more training in the handling of firearms, both pistols and the MP5s. Snorri also said that because Iceland neither has a military nor national guard, it was important for the country to possess the equipment necessary to respond to potential threats.
Police commissioners in Iceland have however not been presented with information about the machine guns, according to Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir, head of the Icelandic Association of Police and police commissioner in Akranes, West Iceland.
The guns have yet to be placed in general police cars in Iceland. Halla said the decision as to whether police in different regions of Iceland will have access to the guns, and whether they are kept at the local police station or in police cars, is at the discretion of the police commissioners of each region.
“There has been no debate about this at all by the Association of Police. Therefore, no decision on the issue has been made and it can be said that this discussion is just in the very early stages,” Halla told ruv.is.
Halla said she the association was occupied with planning new jurisdictions but expected that the issue would be discussed next year.
According to Wikipedia, the MP5 is a 9mm submachine gun of German design and has a rate of fire of 700 to 900 rounds per minute.