Government wants to restrict access to handguns
Interior Minister Holmlund opposes complete ban
The acquisition of handguns is to be restricted through new legislation, which Minister of the Interior Anne Holmlund (Nat. Coalition Party) says will come before Parliament by next spring. Preparations for legislative change will start at the Ministry of the Interior.
Plans are to make it more difficult to get permits for pistols and revolvers.
Holmlund was not able to give many details about what the new legislation would include.
She was not in favour of a complete ban on possession of handguns, as suggested by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre).
She says that one problem that this would cause would be what to do with handguns that are now legal. In principle, she said that she would be ready to consider the impact of a complete ban.
The proposed new law on firearms would provide for the establishment of a firearms register for monitoring the state of health of licenced gun owners. Holmlund says that rules on data security need to be re-examined so that police can could have access to health information on applicants for firearms permits.
Applicants for gun permits would be interviewed by at least two police officers, as is the practice already in some parts of Finland.
Reform of firearms legislation is linked with the new firearms directive of the EU, and would have taken place even without the Kauhajoki shooting. The wording of the directive was finalised in May, and the directive itself was approved in July.
Under the directive, the minimum age for the acquisition, possession, and use of a firearm will be 18, but a 15-year-old will be allowed to have a “parallel permit”, which would allow the youngster to use a weapon owned by his or her parent.
Holmlund was asked if Finland really had to wait for the EU directive, and why tighter rules were not passed immediately after last year’s school killings in Jokela.
“Hindsight is always 20-20", Holmlund noted.
She said that the process could have been speeded up by a few months, but that the reform of the legislation had to wait until the directive was completed, so that all sides of the question could be weighed at the same time.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Prime Minister open to ban on private possession of handguns (24.9.2008)