Key changes in firearms legislation in recent years
Several amendments have been made to the firearms legislation over the past ten years. These amendments were aimed at improving firearms security and streamlining the licensing process.
Firearms Directive aims to prevent dangerous weapons from falling into the wrong hands
The EU Firearms Directive entered into force on 13 June 2017 and it has been implemented nationally. The related amendments to the Firearms Act and the Act on Voluntary National Defence entered into force on 15 July 2019. Amendments concerning the system for information on weapons will enter into force later.
The amendments to the EU Firearms Directive were brought about in response to the terrorist acts committed in Central Europe in recent years in which the perpetrators used a variety of weapons, including automatic firearms. Following the amendments to the Directive, certain firearms, such as semi-automatic weapons, are now classified as category A weapons, which means they are prohibited.
The licensing process was streamlined without compromising firearms security
The legislative amendments adopted in 2017 streamlined the licensing process without compromising firearms security. The amendments entered into force on 1 December 2017 and those concerning online services in December 2018. The grounds for granting a firearms licence did not change; the applicant and the firearm still need to fulfil the requirements laid down in the Firearms Act.
Firearms security improved through a number of legislative amendments
Improvements have been made to firearms security by adopting a new act on shooting ranges and through new provisions related to the storage of firearms, which entered into force on 1 December 2015. The establishment and maintenance of a shooting range are activities subject to authorisation in the case of a normal shooting range or a shooting sports complex. Each shooting range must have rules and regulations and a supervisor who oversees the operation and safety of the range.
The amended Firearms Act also includes changes to the provisions on the storage of firearms, component parts of firearms and cartridges. A new requirement was introduced for storage in secure gun cabinets if there are more than five firearms to be retained, if there are enough component parts to assemble more than five firearms, or if there is one specially dangerous firearm. The transition period for the acquisition of secure gun cabinets will expire on 30 November 2020.
The standard for secure gun cabinets was updated in 2018 by amending the decree of the Ministry of the Interior on secure gun cabinets. According to the decree, the approved standards are level S1 in standard EN 14450 and level 0 in standard EN 1143-1. According to the National Police Board, the Swedish SSF 3492 standard also meets the requirements of the above standards, and it has approved the secure gun cabinets that comply with the Swedish standard for the storage of more than five firearms.
A reference to the European Commission's Deactivation Regulation was added to the Firearms Act to ensure that deactivated firearms are rendered irreversibly inoperable. The Regulation has been applied in EU Member States since 8 April 2016.
The amendment to the Firearms Act that entered into force in 2011 tightened the conditions for obtaining licences for handguns and allowed for enhanced assessment of the state of health of licence applicants and holders.
Seppo Sivula, Chief Superintendent, Ministry of the Interior, Police Department, Police Operations Coordination
tel. +358 295 488 591, [email protected]