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Firearm Ownership, Trends Remain Unchanged

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

While fears of possible changes to gun laws have prompted some Americans to make a run on semi-automatic weapons, Estonian gun ownership numbers remain relatively low and are holding steady.

ERR radio reported the number of legal guns in the past seven to eight years to be stable at 60,000 guns in the hands of 30,000 people, half of them hunters.

Police captain Sven Põierpaas estimated this number to be "optimal."

“Estonians are reasonable and balanced, understanding their property, health and life can be maintained by other measures. Purchasing a firearm for self-protection has to be a thoroughly considered decision,” said Põierpaas.

The fact that residency rates are up in Finland, where firearms are far more plentiful, has not had an effect on trends, he said. Finland's market remains the number one source for weapons purchases by Estonian individuals.

The current gun-related crime levels in Estonia are very low, compared to the early 1990s, said Põierpaas. This is partly due to toughened gun laws, he said.

By law, a firearm permit can be applied for for the purpose of hunting, sport, self-defense and property protection, professional activity in certain fields or collecting.

In order to get a gun license, a person must be 18 years of age. A handgun can be owned after the person turns 21. A certificate of good health has to be obtained from the family doctor and each applicant has to get an evaluation from a psychiatrist. The police runs background checks on each applicant.

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