The process for obtaining a firearms licence in Finland has been made increasingly difficult in recent years as police seek to minimise the availability and usage of the weapons. In addition, more new applications have been rejected while the rescinding of already issued licences has increased at a steady pace.
A report by Finnish broadcaster YLE has revealed that in 2007 there were around 1,300 cases of authorities recalling permits, a figure which rose to 1,700 in 2008. This year, to date, there have been over 2,000 cases of police rescinding licences. In many cases the licence holder is in possession of several weapons which may lead to several thousand returns.
Per-Anders Lundell, Detective Inspector with the Ostrobothnia police pointed out that the city of Vaasa alone has already impounded the same number of weapons as the whole of 2008. The results reflect the move by police across Finland to enact a directive by the Interior Ministry some two years ago which sought to address the issue of gun permits. The renewed effort has been in the main due to links with violence, criminal activity and illegal drugs although authorities have confirmed that some conscientious citizens have turned in their weapons of their own accord.
“I’d say that most confiscations are the result of responses to domestic disturbances and family violence cases. In those instances the patrol would confiscate a weapon,” Lundell explained. A Senior Inspector from the Interior Ministry, Liisa Timonen, said: “Cases where guns are turned in out of a sense of civic duty do touch on these same matters. An increase in criminal activity, alcohol use, and matters related to the conduct of some individuals”.