Many Icelandic citizens are voicing their opposition to the recent police acquisition of MP5 submachine guns, manifesting in protest and petition alike.
Icelanders have long prided themselves as belonging to a peaceful, army-free country. This is being cited by many Icelanders on social media as amongst the reason why they object to recent news that the Icelandic police have received and bought a cache of 150 MP5 submachine guns and untold numbers of Glock-17 semiautomatics from Norway.
At the time of this writing, over 400 Icelanders have said they will be attending a demonstration to be held this Friday in front of the capital area police station. Attendees are encouraged to arrive armed with soap bubble blowers, water balloons and water guns, all of which will be fired at the police station itself.
At the same time, about 7,000 Icelanders have joined a group entitled “Return the Guns” to Norway. In addition, over 2,500 Icelanders have so far signed a petition calling for a national referendum on the matter.
“We, the undersigned, demand that the government institute a national referendum at once on whether the distribution of submachine guns belongs in the public police force,” the petition statement reads. “At question here are fundamental changes to Icelandic society where the armament of the police is concerned. We believe it to be a human right in our democratic society to get to vote on whether we want to see the dramatic changes that this specific weaponisation will bring.”
Although the news of the weapons shipment to the police caught the general public and parliament alike by surprise, as no legislative discussion was had on whether or not to arm the police to this extent, Kjarninn reports that Norwegian law enforcement authorities offered the Icelandic police the weapons in June 2013. Chief of the National Commissioner of Police Jón F. Bjartmarz added that the Icelandic Coast Guard acted as a middleman for the weapons shipment.
However, Vísir reports that Icelandic Coast Guard director Georg Lárusson has called that contention into question.
“I don’t know how these weapons that the police now have got into their hands, but I can find out,” he told reporters. “At this moment I don’t have enough information to say anything about it. We are doing a lot of close work with the police. I can’t say whether these guns came from us or are owned by us. It is out of the question that [Coast Guard] employees handed the police these guns without my knowledge.”
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