Weapons permits of foreign nationals should be suspended, a firearms lobby group says, in the light of the current security situation.
The Estonian Union of Weapons Owners (Eesti Relvaomanike Liit) says that weapons permits of Russian citizens, its "allied" states, and those of some other third country, non-EU, non-NATO member state citizens' should be suspended, leaving only Estonian citizens with permits in hand, along with citizens of EU countries and NATO member states who are residing in Estonia.
Around 1,300 citizens of the Russian Federation who reside in Estonia have weapons permits and possess firearms, the association said, including sports shooters who are permitted to own large quantities of ammunition.
The association proposes both weapons and ammunition be surrendered to the Police and Border Guard.
At the same time, the association calls for boosting the volume of ammunition permissible to Estonian citizens to 1,000 rounds, or 10,000 rounds in the case of sports shooters, and to be permitted to possess and handle limited capacity magazines, including the 30-round variety which fit Armalite- or Kalashnikov-type assault rifles.
The association adds that the larger number of rounds permitted to sports shooters should be seen in the light of the variety of firearms of differing caliber which such individuals are likely to own, as well as the training they undergo and discipline they exhibit.
The association says that recent evidence from the Russian invasion of Ukraine demonstrates the effectiveness of weaponry, when in the hands of the citizenry, in driving off hostile forces or individuals.
Security service chief: Proposal worth consideration
Harrys Puusepp, head of the Internal Security Service (ISS) says the weapons owners society's proposal is worth consideration.
Speaking to Vikerraadio show "Uudis+", Puusepp said: "We have to understand that there is an implicit or explicit assumption with citizens that they are loyal to their state."
"As to what the conditions are under which we can restrict people's rights, there is the possibility that this is justifiable. However, this does not mean discrimination on the basis of nationality; we are talking about citizenship and not nationality. However, it is necessary and justified that it is viable to restrict permissions for weapons ownership," Puusepp went on.
The ISS and other authorities concerned with security need to think about all the possible threats in the current situation, the risk of them materializing and what might be done to mitigate them, Puusepp went on.
"We all want to be able to live in peace. Estonia has a high standard of living, compared with Russia. Our Russian-speaking people know that we use the rule of law and know what our day-to-day prosperity is compared to Russia. But as a preventive measure, people have to endure the fact that some of their rights can be restricted. But once the risk is reduced, those decisions can be reconsidered," he went on, implying that if the weapons permit suspension for Russian and other third country citizens were to go ahead, this would be just that – a temporary suspension and not a permanent measure.
Editor: Andrew Whyte