Finland government drafting gun control amendments after school shootings

[JURIST] The Finnish Interior Ministry [official website, English version] on Wednesday announced [press release] that it is drafting new gun control legislation [JURIST news archive] in response to the fatal shootings [police press release; BBC report] of 10 people at a vocational school in the Finnish city of Kauhajoki. Interior Minister Anne Holmlund [official profile] said the amendments to the Firearms Act of 1998 [PDF text], to be presented to the Finnish Parliament [official website, English version] by spring, will give officials more information about the health of applicants for handgun licenses and will address firearm storage. According to an Interior Ministry statement,

In Ms Holmlund's view, it is important that the licence procedure in Kauhajoki will be investigated by a prosecutor. Only this way can we ascertain whether the instructions and regulations have been followed and whether the police have had information on such matters in the light of which the licence should not have been granted in the first place or the validity period should not have been extended.
After Tuesday's shootings, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen [official website] said the government would consider stronger gun control laws [AP report]. Bloomberg News has more. BBC News has additional coverage. Helsingin Sanomat has local coverage.

The prime minister noted "unfortunate similarities" [press release] between the Kauhajoki shootings and those last November in the village of Jokela, where an 18-year-old gunman killed eight people [BBC report] at a high school. Later that month, European Union (EU) lawmakers endorsed a legislative report [JURIST report] to tighten gun control laws and establish an extensive firearms database. The report resulted from 18 months of negotiations with national governments and gun-rights advocates. The EU Parliament and Council adopted a directive [text] based on the report this past May. Finland [JURIST news archive] has the highest rate of gun ownership [AP backgrounder] in the EU.


 

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