Firearm Licensing Criteria to Be Unified

The newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reports that there are plans underway in the Ministry of the Interior to implement uniform criteria for the granting of gun licences. Practice has varied considerably from one police precinct to another.

Finnish gun enthusiasts have been found to share information about which local police are more likely to grant gun licences for various purposes. However, licences are always granted by the local police in the community where the holder lives.

The new regulations will place stricter conditions on getting a gun licence. According to the draft, a conviction for driving while intoxicated could cause delays in getting a licence. A licence could be completely refused if the applicant has a history of crimes involving violent behaviour.

The instructions, which are to be given to local police forces in the autumn, are the first national set of criteria for granting firearms licences. At the beginning of 2006, there were close to 1.6 million registered firearms in Finland. Illegal weapons are believed to number in the tens of thousands.