Finland government commission proposes semiautomatic handgun ban

[JURIST] A Finnish government commission established to investigate a 2008 school shooting proposed a ban on semiautomatic handguns [press release, in Finnish] in a report [text, PDF; in Finnish] released Wednesday. If approved by the Finnish Parliament [official website, in Finnish], the ban would affect more than 200,000 semiautomatic handguns across the country. The commission made other recommendations [AP report] for stricter gun control laws, including raising the age requirement for owning handguns from 15 to 20, making gun permits temporary, and requiring two years of shooting practice. Finland has 650,000 registered gun owners and a population of 5.3 million. According to the 2007 Small Arms Survey [materials], Finland ranks fifth in the world for gun ownership per capita with over three million civilian firearms.

The commission was set up by the Finnish Ministry of Justice [official website, in Finnish] to examine the September 2008 shooting at a vocational school in Kauhajoki, where a gunman killed nine students and one teacher. Less than one year earlier, a student killed eight people at a high school in Tuusula. Many observers, including Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen [official website] noted the "unfortunate" similarities [press release] between the two incidents, and Finnish government officials said they were ready to consider stricter gun control laws. After the killings, reform efforts began in both Finland and the European Union [JURIST reports].



 

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