A Place Where Carrying a Gun is the Law

Due to a very real natural threat, residents of this far-flung northern town are required by law to own a gun and to carry one in certain circumstances.

Did you know that there’s actually a place in the world where it is mandatory that every resident own a gun?

The video above from Amazing Places, takes us to Svalbard, a group of islands in the High Arctic, just north of Norway.

There, not only do you have to own a gun, but you also have to carry one by law. Even visitors must be accompanied outside of town by an armed guard if they aren’t familiar with firearms. But, why? And no, it’s not a political statement.

Because the local citizenry faces a very real danger from polar bears, the creatures with whom they share their northern home.

In 2011, a group of schoolchildren camping in Svalbard were attacked by a bear. One child was killed and several were injured. In 2015, a person camping for the solar eclipse was mauled by the large, aggressive bear species.

So, with attacks and close calls on the rise, a law hit the books saying any group traveling outside the main settlements must keep at least one rifle with them, and someone who knows how to use it.

But, as the video says, if campers have to use their gun against a bear, a few thing have to have gone wrong already. This is a place where people routinely encircle their campsites with tripwires and explosives to scare away polar bears—and someone should always be on lookout at all times, preferably with the rifle.

According to this story from The Denver Post, there actually is a town in Colorado called Nucla that got some national attention when it passed an ordinance five years ago requiring every household to own a firearm, which the video references, saying the law is more of a political statement and isn't really enforced. Nucla is actually in danger of becoming a ghost town, the story says.