The Icelandic police force will soon be adding MP5 machine guns and Glock 17 semiautomatics to their arsenals.
While it was initially reported that these guns were bought from Norway, and that squad cars are now equipped with them, neither of these contentions are true. The guns are, however, in possession of the police force.
The Ministry of the Interior – which oversees the police – posted an announcement on the matter, saying in part, “No decision has been taken by the Minister on a policy change regarding police weaponry. Decisions about the use of equipment are taken by the Chief of Police in conjunction with the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police.”
Numerous members of parliament voiced objections to the news, both in terms of the secrecy with which the weapons came to the country with no prior notification, as well as regarding who paid for the weapons.
Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, assistant to Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, chose to respond to these criticisms on Facebook, stating that the guns are a “gift from Norway”, and that the cost to the Icelandic state was none. He added that the guns were a part of the “good teamwork in police matters” between the two countries.
This contention, though, directly contradicts a statement made by the Chief of the National Commissioner of Police, Jón F. Bjartmarz, who told reporters that the police bought 150 machine guns, RÚV reports.
It is unknown, however, whether Iceland asked for the guns or Norway offered them. The National Commissioner will take the final decision on when and how these weapons will be used.
In related news, Nútíminn reports that numerous Icelandic rappers have joined the chorus of criticism against the weapons. Rapper Arnar Freyr of Úlfur Úlfur, who was recently interviewed by the Grapevine, pointed out the following:
“This is a rather funny discussion being had right after the police’s cuteness assault on social media. Has it not been proven many times that increasing police weaponry does not make anyone safer? That even the opposite is true? I would like to think, anyway, that we live in comfortable conditions, and that the most powerful weapons the police can have is simply to be reasonable, balanced and patient.”
A petition calling for a referendum on police weaponry has already started making the rounds on Icelandic social media.