Critics say new regulations on air guns are full of hot air

Justice minister’s new law turns ordinary Danes “into criminals”, Venstre says

There are some 800,000 air rifles and pistols quietly sitting in closets and garages throughout Denmark. Those guns, purchased legally at shops – including toy stores – are about to become something of a headache for their owners.

A tightening of firearms regulations that goes into effect at the beginning of June will effectively render most air weapons illegal, Berlingske newspaper reports. Any weapon with a calibre of 5.5 millimetres or more must be registered with the police, and should an owner actually want to use the gun, they must first either purchase a hunting licence, be a member of a shooting club or have a special permit.

Bo Nielsen, a spokesperson for Nordisk Våbenforum, an online forum for hunters and gun enthusiasts, told Berlingske that the law turns ordinary Danes, including children, into criminals.

"If Mr and Mr. Denmark have a 300 kroner air rifle at their summerhouse, it will now cost them several thousand more kroner to use it," Nielsen said.

Nielsen acknowledged that several successive justice ministers have tried to regulate the sale and use of high calibre air weapons, but said that the new rules criminalise what are essentially harmless hobby guns.

Dennis Rasmussen, the co-owner of a chain of outdoor stores in Jutland, called the new rules overkill.

"I fully understand the need to regulate powerful weapons of nine and twelve millimetres, but I have never heard of a person being injured by a 5.5 millimetre gun," Rasmussen told Berlingske.

The justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), chose not to comment to Berlingske on the dust up. But a spokesperson from the party, Ole Haekkerup, said the government had to start getting a handle on air weapons.

"We have to draw the line somewhere," said Hækkerup. "People have up to a year to make sure their weapons are legal."

Leading opposition party Venstre (V) criticised Bødskov for implementing the new regulations without debate.

"Bødskov's signature (on the new law) just turned hundreds of thousands of Danes into criminals. This should have been discussed in parliament," V’s spokesperson Karsten Lauritzen told Berlingske.