By law, licenses for fully automatic weapons can only be issued to individuals if there are special circumstances.
The person must also have a “great need” for an automatic weapon, according to police guidelines, be an elite-level marksman, and have been active in a shooting club for an extended period of time.
The Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) must also justify the possession.
Breivik, the suspected mass murderer, wrote in his application that the reason he was applying for a semi-automatic weapon license was to hunt deer.
“It wouldn’t have worked in Sweden,” said Lars Tonneman, director of the police law section at the National Police Agency (Rikspolisstyrelsen), told the TT news agency.
“That weapon that he used was clearly originally manufactured for military purposes. He couldn’t have gotten a permit for that gun here.”
Roughly 2,500 individuals in Sweden have licenses to own a submachine gun (kulsprutepistol).
According to the Swedish Shooting Sport Association (Svenska skyttesportförbundet), most of the licence holders are members of the Home National Guard or members of the military who engage in shooting competitions in their spare time.
“And no new licenses are being issued. The fact that Swedish championships in submachine guns exist is a holdover from the Armed Forces. It’s the only category we have that’s automatic, and it’s on its way out,” he said.