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Seizing weapons held by Russian citizens to require additional manpower

The decision by the new coalition of the Reform Party, Isamaa and the Social Democrats to revoke the weapons permits and seize weapons of Russian and Belarusian citizens in Estonia requires the PPA to double the number of arms control officers. Some people may be reluctant to surrender their firearms.

"Talking about the 629 persons holding around 1,200 firearms in whose case decisions need to be made and who need to be made aware before weapons can be collected, this is sure to add a lot of work for the police," Rita Proosalt from the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) development department said.

The PPA representative explained that the law does not specify how many firearms a single person can own. Proosalt suggested that the average person with a weapons permit has two or three guns.

When a person's weapons permit expires, they immediately need to surrender their firearms and ammunition to the police after which they have three months to decide whether to apply for a new permit, have the guns expropriated or render them unusable.

Most people who lose their weapons permit find new owners for the guns themselves. Those who cannot have their weapons expropriated. A special committee will determine their value which is then paid to the owner. Some such firearms are put up for auction by the police, Proosalt revealed.

"It may also be decided that the PPA will use some of these weapons. Or that some of them will be destroyed. However, these things are up to the committee to decide," she added.

The PPA on average has to expropriate between two and four firearms a month, while weapons permits are revoked almost daily.

Proosalt said that expropriation also means the need for new storage facilities. "Our armories cannot facilitate all of these weapons. The second question is how to go about collecting them, meaning additional workload for district officers."

The police have given thought to risk management after over 600 people, many of whom are real gun enthusiasts, learned last week that they will soon lose their right to own weapons.

"Some weapons will unexpectedly disappear. Another option is that the guns will be expropriated to persons with the right to own them but will still be used by their previous owners," Proosalt explained, adding that it is quite difficult to contain such risks.

"The [interior] ministry will have to calculate how to manage them in the best possible way on the level of draft legislation. It requires thorough analysis."


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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