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Doctors Don't Want Responsibility For Gun Licensing

The Finnish Medical Association (FMA) is taking the position that it is not possible to evaluate the mental health of a gun licence applicant with no more than a regular health care centre examination. The medical association is opposed to further increasing the workload of health care centre physicians with the responsibility for issuing certificates of mental health for gun licence applicants. On Monday, the Interior Ministry issued new policy guidelines requiring applicants to hand to police a mental health evaluation by a doctor, certifying that the permit-seeker does not have any mental illness or problems that might pose danger to him or herself or others. "People do not have a subject right to carry a weapon. Whether or not to issue a gun permit has been assigned to the police. That responsibility should not be shifted to doctors. They are already burden with quite enough paperwork as it is," says Chief Executive Heikki Pälve of the Finnish Medical Association. Pälve sees the crux of the matter as a means to raise the threshold for gun permits, but does feel that shifting the burden to health care centre doctors is not the way to do it. According to Pälve, more thought should be given to the availability of guns in general and handguns in particular. Risikko: no shifting responsibility Basic Services Minister Paula Risikko has also voiced opposition to general practitioners dealing with evaluations of gun permit applicants. Instead, she wants to see medical professionals assigned to police departments. "At the moment some police departments have social workers. In the same way, they could have personnel who have health care qualifications," says Risikko. Holmlund: gun ban would not have prevented shootings

Interior Minister Anne Holmlund says she does not believe that withholding licenses for handguns as a first firearm would have prevented the Kauhajoki shootings.

The Minister said that first licenses for handguns were not prohibited after the Jokela shootings last November, because new regulations governing gun licenses had just been introduced. New directives launched by the interior Ministry call for applicants to have one year's membership in a gun club before a handgun license is granted.

Holmlund admits that it would be a challenge for physicians to evaluation permit applicants, but that the police need information about any possible mental health problems.


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