Mihkelson: Firearms directive changes could smash Estonian defense system ({{commentsTotal}})

The European Commission's proposals for changing the Firearms Directive could smash the defense system of countries that rely on reserve forces, chairman of the Estonian Parliament's National Defense Committee Marko Mihkelson says.

"The European Commission initiative for changing the Firearms Directive does not increase our union's sense of security as regards terrorism threat but could actually seriously disrupt reserve army-based defense systems of several countries, in particular Finland but also Estonia and some others," Mihkelson told BNS. "Estonia cannot support measures that will reduce security but must emphasize the role of loyal citizens as responsible gun owners."

Mihkelson also believes Estonia and its partners should oppose the proposal to move to Category A automatic firearms which have been converted into semiautomatic and semiautomatic weapons that look like automatic weapons. "This will limit the possibilities for defending oneself and one's property, shooting sports and hunting. It will also make performing defense duties more difficult," he said.

In his opinion, it also is essential for the directive changes not to restrict possibilities for collecting category A firearms.

The National Defense Committee will consider the proposed changes and Estonia's positions at its February 8 sitting.

The government last week withheld support for the proposal to move to Category A automatic firearms which have been converted into semiautomatic and semiautomatic weapons which resemble weapons with automatic mechanisms. Category A weapons and ammunition are banned for civilian use.

Members of the Estonian volunteer corps Kaitseliit (Defense League) are currently allowed to keep automatic and semiautomatic firearms at home.

The Interior Ministry stressed Estonia's wish to preserve the directive's clause that allows member states to make in national legislation exceptions for the acquisition and possession of weapons that generally are prohibited for civilian use. Nor does Estonia support the proposal that would limit the possibility of collecting Category A firearms.

At the same time Estonia supports tightening control over the use of firearms and the proposal to include deactivated firearms in the scope of the directive. Estonia also is in favor of setting a common term for weapons permits and the requirement that applicants pass a medical checkup.

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