While they cannot yet specify an exact timeframe for the implementation of planned changes to weapons permits and firearm ownership, according to the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), some Russian citizens living in Estonia have already begun voluntarily relinquishing their firearms.
Police Lt. Riita Proosa told ERR that while they can't specify an exact timeline, should the new legislation be implemented as planned, some 1,300 individuals' weapons permits will be revoked, approximately half of whom are Russian citizens.
"After a weapons permit has been revoked, the owner of a firearm is required to turn it in to police and divest of it within one year," Proosa said.
He explained that under standard practice, an inspection of a firearm owner's home will be conducted by district police officers, who will also intervene should a firearm owner not surrender their own firearm to police upon the revocation of their weapons permit.
"This doesn't happen very often, and as a rule, people themselves act in accordance with the provisions of the law, hand over their firearm to police in a timely manner and begin divesting from the firearm," Proosa said. "The PPA has not kept a separate record of this, due to which I can't provide an exact number, but some gun owners have already begun divesting from their firearms."
The police lieutenant noted that if a gun owner does not divest from their weapon by a set deadline, police are obligated to dispossess them of it, meaning that the owner is paid average market value for the firearm and the police will divest of the firearm themselves.
"If activities resulting from the legislative amendment require additional resources from the police, these will have to be found in cooperation with the [Ministry of the Interior]," Proosa added.
Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) told ERR on Tuesday that the so-called bill for collecting weapons from Russian citizens is slated to reach the government sometime within the next couple of weeks.
Editor: Aili Vahtla