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If Trond Berntsen had been armed 69 lives might well have been saved

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

With the debate on guns and gun control running hot here in the United States, we have something to learn from this saga. On July 22, 2011, Anders Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian, went on a shooting rampage on Utøya, an island in a fjord some 24 miles northwest of Oslo. Camped on the island in an annual youth encampment were some 600 young people, mostly teens. The carnage was 69 killed and 33 wounded by gunfire plus many more injured in the panic-driven scramble by the trapped teens to avoid being shot. Brevik had earlier set off a powerful 2100 pound car bomb in the government quarter of Oslo, killing 8 and injuring 209.
The details of all this are well known as Breivik had been forthcoming on the details involved both before and during his trial. His motives are fully explained in a 1,500-page political manifesto he wrote and e-mailed to hundreds of people prior to the event.
An hour-and-a-half after the bombing, Breivik, dressed as a police officer and armed with a semiautomatic rifle and pistol plus a bag full of loaded magazines for his weapons, boarded a small ferry for the short 600 meter crossing from the mainland to the 26-acre wooded island. He attempted to convince Monica Boesei, the camp manager, that he was there to ensure that the campers were secure in the wake of the Oslo bombing. Boesei, however, was suspicious and walked away to summon the camp security guard, off-duty police officer Trond Berntsen. Breivik followed her close behind. Berntsen, with his 10-year-old son beside him, saw them coming and knew right away from his many years as a police officer that this scene was wrong — he must have, because he practically threw his son into the bushes to get him out of the way (this saved his son's life). As Berntsen confronted the armed intruder, Breivik shot him in the head and then gunned down a fleeing Monica Boesei. Breivik then shot both twice in the head.
Here we come to the lesson of this letter. Trond Berntsen was NOT ARMED. There were ZERO guns on the isolated island except for those in the hands of the perpetrator. You anti-gun folks that want to ban all guns and prevent them from being anywhere near children should like this idea. Some 600 young people in camp, almost all of them teens, were WITHOUT ARMED PROTECTION. But I wonder why our own president and vice president have an army of hired guns to protect them and their families, but openly campaign to restrict "We the People" from protecting ourselves and our families. Berntsen, being an off-duty police officer, in this instance was not allowed to have a gun. So here we have a "gun free zone" so popular with anti-gun supporters. Most police officers in Norway at that time worked unarmed, carrying weapons only with permission in special circumstances. Officers in police cars were allowed unloaded weapons with ammunition accessible, but in locked boxes.
In my opinion, this is what should have and could have happened on Utøya. Berntsen should have been allowed to be armed. He was an experienced police officer who knew how to handle firearms and who instinctively sensed the danger and would have confronted Breivik WEAPON against WEAPON. This was the ONLY chance that could have saved all the innocent lives lost on the island. If an armed Berntsen could have stopped Breivik at this point, NOT ONE of the young people on that island would have perished. NOT ONE. In fact, I believe there should have been MORE than one ARMED security guard on that island.
As it was, Anders Breivik spent the next hour-and-a-half unmolested methodically gunning down nearly everyone he could find, even shooting at those attempting to flee by swimming. In my opinion, it was a disgrace not to have armed protection for these young people and a disgrace for civil authority to take so long to get together armed intervention. What was it that finally stopped Anders Breivik? When an officer finally showed up with a GUN, he lay down his arms and surrendered. Breivik had enough ammunition and the declared and admitted resolve to have killed everyone.
The 2012 annual youth encampment was subsequently cancelled, but the camp was resumed this July at another site on land along the same fjord. But this time the youth were protected by armed police patrols. Since gun control is such a sensitive subject now, I expect this letter to bring forth both support and opposition from the right and the left, respectively. Bring it on.

George E. Brunstad