One year after the tragedy at Field’s, the government will tighten gun laws

The government will investigate whether it is possible to obtain health data, including checking for mental disorders, before issuing a gun licence

In Denmark it is extremely rare that somebody opens fire on unsuspecting people.

But just under a year ago, it happened at the Field’s shopping centre in Copenhagen.

A 23-year-old mentally-ill man is currently on trial for shooting dead three people, along with the attempted murders of several other innocent people who happened to be in the mall one summery Sunday last year.

Unlicenced weapons
The man used weapons for which he did not have a permit. For a long period he had tried to get psychiatric help.

With that in mind, the justice minister, Peter Hummelgaard, is proposing a new weapons law. The government will discuss 10 initiatives with the parliamentary parties. One of them is to investigate the possibility of introducing better controls for weapons permits for Danes who have a mental disorder.

“Cruel attacks like the one we saw in Field’s last summer are extremely rare. We are now tightening up the control of weapons permits, and we are starting with several initiatives which, among other things, will help to ensure that people with weapons permits keep their weapons safely at home,” said Hummelgaard.

“We must do everything we can so that weapons do not end up in the wrong hands and, in the worst case, cost innocent people their lives.”

Don’t want to stigmatise
The Justice Ministry will investigate how the health authorities can contribute more to the police, so they systematically receive relevant information about the psychological conditions of persons who apply for or already hold a weapons permit.

Here, experience will be drawn from the driving licence arena, where there is a health requirement.

A better control of weapons permits for people with mental disorders is “a difficult balance”, according to Hummelgaard.

“We don’t want to stigmatise people who suffer from serious illnesses, but in special and concrete cases it must be included in the risk assessment when issuing a weapons permit,” he told TV2.

FACTS: Better controls and tougher penalties must strengthen gun laws

Ten new initiatives from the government will, among other things, ensure it will be more difficult to obtain weapons permits. The ten initiatives read as follows:

1. Mandatory refusal of an application for a weapons permit for certain offences.

2. Investigation of the possibilities for better control of weapons permits for citizens with mental disorders.

3. Better control of weapons permits for citizens who may be radicalised.

4. Establishment of a special reporting system for municipal authorities.

5. Obligation to dispose of weapons within ten days if the weapons licence is revoked.

6. Increasing punishment for improper storage of weapons.

7. Increasing the penalty for reckless possession of ammunition.

8. Information campaign on safe storage of weapons.

9. Guidance for shooting associations on danger signals.

10. Increased security in the shooting associations.