Estonia Revokes Firearms Licenses for Non-EU and NATO Nationals Amid Legislative Changes
In light of recent legislative amendments in Estonia, a new policy will take effect from March 15 this year, revoking all firearms licenses issued to citizens of Russia and other countries outside the European Union and NATO. This decision impacts both holders of firearms and owners of other types of weapons requiring a license. It has been mandated that affected individuals must surrender their weapons to the police.
Rudolf Pervunin, chairman of the "Narva" hunting club, spoke to the "Narva Newspaper" about the club's seven Russian citizens who are already informed about the upcoming changes through police notifications. They are preparing to hand in their rifles on March 15, while those with licenses expiring later will surrender their weapons at a subsequent date. Despite their law-abiding nature, Pervunin acknowledges the challenge this decision poses for the club members.
In February last year, the Riigikogu adopted amendments to the Firearms Act, proposed by the Minister of the Interior, which came into effect on March 15, 2023. Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets emphasized the necessity of these changes to mitigate risks to internal security and public order, particularly in the current international climate. The amendment aims to prevent citizens of states perceived as hostile towards Estonia from owning weapons.
Official figures suggest that approximately 1,300 individuals in Estonia will be affected, with 437 of them having their licenses expire precisely on March 15. The police have already contacted these individuals, expecting their compliant behavior in light of the new regulations. Vice Chancellor of the Ministry of the Interior, Raivo Küüt, highlighted the importance of reminding citizens about the deadlines for surrendering weapons, noting the legal penalties for possession without a valid license.
Special consideration is given to stateless individuals possessing weapons: their licenses will remain valid until expiration. This allows them the opportunity to apply for Estonian citizenship and, if successful, to extend their weapons permits. The police have also outlined compensation measures for weapon owners unable to find a buyer by March 15, 2025, underscoring the state's support for citizens during this transition period.
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