Prime Minister open to ban on private possession of handguns
Interior Ministry working on new firearms law
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) said at a government press conference on Tuesday that the shooting incident in Kauhajoki will influence the drafting of planned new firearms legislation.
Minister of the Interior Anne Holmlund (Nat. Coalition Party) Also said that the government will look at the possible need to tighten the law.
Interviewed on television news on Tuesday evening, both ministers indicated that changes might be made in the availability of handguns. Vanhanen said on a TV news broadcast of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) that a total ban on private use of easily-concealed handguns would be considered.
After the shootings in Jokela in November last year, Vanhanen said in a radio interview that it might be possible to require that weapons used for target practice be kept at shooting ranges, as is done in some countries. At that time, Risto Aarrekivi, the executive director of the Finnish Shooting Sport Federation opposed the proposal.
At the time, Aarrekivi said that implementing such a proposal would require expensive investments, and that storing guns at the shooting ranges would pose a security risk.
The Ministry of the Interior is beginning work on a bill for a new firearms law.
The proposed legislation is required by the firearms directive of the European Union, which was passed on July 28th, and which Finland is required to implement in its own legislation.
Last year’s shooting incident in Jokela caused Finland to change its stance on the preparation of the directive.
Before Jokela, Finland did not support the age limits for gun ownership and use that had the backing of the majority of the EU.
Finland noted that hunting is an integral part of Finnish culture, and that it is common for underage Finns to hunt and carry weapons.
After the Jokela massacre, the Finnish government changed course and took the position of the majority in the EU.
Under the fresh directive, a minimum age of 18 is required for the acquisition, possession, and use of a firearm.
However, those over 15 would be allowed to get a parallel gun permit allowing them to use a weapon owned by their parents, for instance. The directive sets the minimum standards, and member states are allowed to place more severe restrictions on gun use if they want to.