The Estonian Gun Owners’ Association: suspend gun licences of the Russian citizens who live in Estonia

The Estonian Gun Owners’ Association has proposed that the gun licences of foreigners living or having the right of residence in Estonia who hold citizenship of the Russian Federation and its allies should be suspended immediately.

The association sent a letter to the country’s interior ministry, in which the organisation proposed to amend the Weapons Act so that only citizens of Estonia, the European Union and NATO member states would be allowed to own and possess firearms and ammunition in Estonia.

The association proposed that the gun licences of foreigners living or having the right of residence in Estonia who hold citizenship of the Russian Federation and its allies should be suspended immediately.

As of 2020, there are 1,300 citizens of the Russian Federation living in Estonia who hold Estonian gun licences and firearms.

“Among them there are also sport shooters who are entitled to own large quantities of cartridges. Firearms in the possession of citizens of a country hostile to Estonia, the so-called fifth column, present a major internal security risk. If today’s Russia develops an interest in destabilising the situation in Estonia, these gun owners can be used for sabotage and diversionary acts and as a hostile force in a war situation,” members of the board of the Gun Owners’ Association wrote in the letter.

The association proposes that the firearms and ammunition belonging to Estonia-based Russian citizens should be deposited immediately with the Estonian Police and Border Guard.

Increase the amount of ammunition allowed for Estonian citizens

For security purposes, the association also proposes to increase the amount of ammunition allowed for Estonian citizens up to 1,000 rounds for all firearms. According to the association, the war in Ukraine has shown that weapons in the hands of civilians “have been of great help in disabling individual diversionists as well as hostile groups and marauders”.

“In order to ensure an adequate reserve of defence capabilities, it would be necessary for gun owners to have the legal right to keep a sufficient amount of ammunition at home. The current norm (200 rounds for all firearms for security purposes combined) essentially allows for one or two practice rounds but does not guarantee an adequate security reserve. If a person carries several weapons of different calibres, the number of cartridges allowed per weapon is further reduced.”

A female member of the Estonian Defence League, a voluntary national defence organisation. Photo by the Estonian Defence League.

The Gun Owners’ Association also wants to increase the ammunition limit for all sporting firearms held by Estonian citizens to 10,000 rounds. “Sport shooters are also a valuable resource in terms of national defence, as they own high quality weapons, are well prepared and trained in marksmanship, and are highly disciplined in safety. Their club activities are also transparent and motivated,” the organisation said.

A representative of the Estonian Internal Security Service (known as KAPO in Estonian) told the Estonian Public Broadcasting that the proposal to revoke the gun licences of Russian citizens living in Estonia “deserves discussion”.

Read also: Live updates: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – reactions in Estonia.

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