The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and the Ministry of the Interior are discussing an amendment which would see all air guns and starting pistols painted pink and yellow to stop daily calls about people with weapons.
On average, the PPA responds to one call a day regarding weapon-like objects being used in a public space. Last week, there were nine calls in Tallinn and Harju County alone about weapon-like objects.
On Sunday, the PPA responded to a call in Lasnamäe, Tallinn, where eventually a man was detained, carrying a starting pistol. There was also a case on the same day where a man in Jõelähtme Municipality was shooting an air gun at his neighbor's house. He was also detained.
The most noteworthy call about weapon-like objects in the last week was on July 9, when a man in Saku Municipality aimed a weapon at a mother walking with her children. The police reacted and detained the 56-year old man and found many weapon-like objects at his home.
The situation requires a solution
Urmet Tambre, Head of the North Prefecture's criminal bureau, told ERR that an average of one response needs to be made every day, with the responses being operative and well-manned because of the potential danger of the situation.
He said: "Luckily, many of the cases have not had actual firearms involved but waving weapon-like objects around creates understandable fear among people."
Air guns and weapon-like objects are not prohibited by law, meaning that people can carry them around with no obstacles. As firearms and other weapon-like objects do not differ much, citizens sometimes justifiably call the police.
Tambre noted that even though air guns, starter pistols and other weapon-like objects are not prohibited, they should still not be carried in public.
He explained: "For us to clearly identify the difference, they could be partly or completely painted. For starter pistols and air guns, it does not really matter what color they are. Having them painted could help with identification, avoiding scaring off other people and also help avoid the possible tragic circumstances of a police response. Those colors would also cool the desire of carrying them around in public spaces."
He noted that the UK could be taken as an example, as air guns must be multicolored.
The Ministry of the Interior is not convinced
Henry Timberg, head of the Ministry of the Interior's Department for Law Enforcement and Criminal Policy, told ERR Tambre made his proposals on social media and no official appeal has been made.
Timberg noted: "Although coloring air guns and starter pistols would help differentiate them from firearms, the solution might still not ensure complete certainty that a person is not using an actual firearm. Regardless of the color and appearance of an object, the state has to respond to each case seriously and as if it is a firearm."
The ministry is not planning on making any changes currently, but since the Weapons Act will be assessed in the next few years, all possible amendments will be discussed.
Timberg noted people need to understand that carrying a weapon-like object around does not necessarily increase the feeling of security.
He said: "All members of society are equally responsible for our sense of security and walking around with an air gun or starter pistol could damage that. This behavior may seem innocent and nonthreatening, but others may sense danger. Raising awareness is also important in cases such as these."
Punishments for people waving weapon-like objects around depend on the circumstances.
Timberg explained: "Threatening someone with a weapon or weapon-like object could be handled as a threat using section 120 of the Penal Code and also as an aggravated breach of public order using section 263. In the case of a threat, the person being threatened has to acknowledge the intention to cause damage, whether it be life, health or property."
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste