Paper: 350 weapons permits were terminated in Estonia in 2019

Firearms. (Photo is illustrative)
Firearms. (Photo is illustrative) Source: Ivika Lehtsalu/

Over the weekend, a tragic shooting happened in Lihula where a 32-year old man opened fire, killing two and injuring three people. The case has started a discussion around the issuing of weapons permits, with many politicians calling for tighter checks on weapons permits.

Ove Saar, Police Captain of the Southern Prefecture acknowledges that while the system is working, in some cases of issued permits, the thoroughness of the assessments is suspicious, daily Postimees writes (link in Estonian).

Previous violations of the law are also considered, and the police regularly check and terminate permits if there have been any criminal proceedings involving someone with a weapons permit.

"Last year 350 permits were terminated and of those, over 50 were involved with criminal proceedings," Saar said.

The police is currently investigating the circumstances which led to the shooter, who had previously been convicted of a weapons offense, being handed a weapons permit in 2017, Saar added.

The amount of gun owners and firearms in Estonia is not a major issue, as the amount of cases around weapons is low and the amount of gun owners has only grown by 60 over the last three years, Saar said.

ERR News wrote on Tuesday that the 32-year old had a prior record following an incident in which he fired on an apartment building, but this and other considerations had not been taken into account when his current license was issued in 2017.

Under current Estonian law, an individual may be refused a license if they have a prior penalty to their name for an offense which threatened life or well-being, or a weapons-related offense.

Under the current system, weapons permit applicants can select their own medical specialist for a psychiatric assessment, something which Interion minister Mart Helme (EKRE) has said was little more than a formality and which should be replaced by a system where family doctors referred applicants to state-approved psychiatrists, ERR News wrote on Tuesday.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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