Changes to the Firearms Act resulting from the EU Firearms Directive will not prevent target shooting or collection of firearms
The changes required by the EU Firearms Directive are being implemented in Member States. In Finland, the Directive causes changes particularly to the Firearms Act. The draft government proposal for implementing the Firearms Directive was circulated widely for comments on 4 May. The basis of the proposal is to prevent specially dangerous firearms and their components from falling into the wrong hands without, however, creating any undue difficulties for reservists – whose activities are unique by European standards – and target shooters and collectors in Finland.
"The outcome of the negotiations on the Firearms Directive at EU level was positive for Finland. The derogation concerning national defence that is included in the Directive ensures that reservists can continue their activities in Finland. The draft proposal implements the changes required by the Firearms Directive without weakening the possibilities for reservist activities, hunting, sport shooting or collection of firearms," says Minister of the Interior Kai Mykkänen.
While the proposal was being drafted, the importance to consider the needs of national defence in particular gave rise to a lot of discussion. For this reason, the draft proposal contains a set of measures that would make it smoother for reservists to apply for firearms subject to authorisation and would extend the validity of current licences to possess firearms with a large magazine that are prohibited under the Firearms Directive. In addition, an active reservist could in future be authorised to acquire a firearm prohibited under the Directive, subject to certain conditions. This set of measures would ensure that the requirements set by the Firearms Directive on the national legislation are fulfilled and that reservists can continue their activities.
Other key changes that the Directive brings to the Finnish Firearms Act will improve the traceability of firearms and therefore also internal security. Measures will also be taken to strengthen the control of arms trade and to streamline the regulation on the right to carry on the firearms trade. The Firearms Directive harmonises firearms legislation throughout the EU.
The objective of preparing a government proposal was to make only those changes to the Firearms Act that are required by the Firearms Directive. In this process, the opinions that the Government and Parliament had formed during the preparation of the Directive were followed closely. The proposal was prepared by a working group appointed by the Ministry of the Interior, together with key stakeholders. Various experts were consulted during this process as necessary. In addition, discussions and consultation events were organised for experts and stakeholders.
The government proposal is scheduled to be submitted to Parliament during the spring session. The changes are planned to take effect next autumn.
The EU Firearms Directive entered into force on 14 June 2017. The aim of the Directive is to take care of the functioning of the internal market in firearms and, at the same time, to guarantee the security of EU citizens. The Directive is also part of wider, comprehensive EU efforts to fight terrorism.