Police has checked backgrounds of 90 percent of gun owners

Firearms (photo is illustrative).
Firearms (photo is illustrative). Source: Ivika Lehtsalu/mil.ee

Two fatal shootings in Estonia over the last six months have made the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) to look into the persons' owning firearms in Estonia with background checks conducted on 90 percent of gun owners.

After a fatal shooting in Lihula, Pärnu County, in early-June, the Ministry of the Interior is preparing amendments to the Weapons Act while law-abiding gun owners are hoping that the public opinion will not turn against them as a result of two bad apples.

After the Lihula shooting, PPA begun checking the lifestyles and behavior of all 26,000 gun owners in Estonia. By the start of 2021, 90 percent of gun owners have been checked with the process still ongoing. Proceedings to revocate weapons permits have been initiated or finished for a few dozen.

PPA chief law officer Riita Proosa said the revoked permits are to do with domestic violence, alcohol problems or violations of storage conditions discovered during background checks.

The interior ministry is working on changing the Weapons Act. Amendments are mainly based on lessons learned after the July incident in Lihula - how a person with very conflicted behavior was allowed to own a legal firearm.

Proosa said: "The Ministry of the Interior has initated a bill to amend the Weapons Act. What the amendments will be will be made clear in the coming months."

Estonia's practical shooting judge Dmitri Udras hopes that incidents in Lihula last summer and Lasnamäe last week will not make society hostile toward those who legally own a firearm.

"A firearm is one of our freedoms that we achieved in the 90s. If we want to live in a totalitarian state once again, where everything is under surveillance, that is one of the ways," Udras said.

There are close to 26,000 legal gun owners in Estonia holding more than 50,000 firearms. Most of those are for hunting purposes.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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