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Finland: New Gun Law Proposed

(Aug. 27, 2009) Finland's Parliament is drafting a new gun law, scheduled for debate in September 2009, which would authorize police to inspect, without having established suspicion of commission of a crime, the private homes of persons holding gun permits. Even though the unscheduled searches would be allowed, the police would have to give the permit-holder two weeks' advance notice of the intended action, according to SUNNUNTAISUOMALAINEN, the Sunday edition of a syndicated newspaper. ( New Finnish Gun Law Proposal Would Allow Surprise Home Searches – Paper, HELSINKI TIMES, Aug. 17, 2009, available at
; New Gun Law Opening Doors to Police, YLE UUTISET, Aug. 16, 2009, available at

In addition, issuance of handgun permits would be restricted to members of target shooting clubs. Permit applicants would have to be at least 20 years old and have proof of a two-year minimum of supervised target practice at a club. According to Arms Historic Society of Finland Chairman Jari Mäkinen, however, gun clubs in sparsely populated Finland could be hundreds of kilometers away from would-be gun owners, and the new law would hinder young shooting competitors in reaching the top of their sport. (Id.)

The proposal comes in the wake of a deadly school shooting that occurred in Finland in September 2008. Before turning the gun on himself, the perpetrator shot nine students and a teacher at a college in the town of Kauhajoki. Although the police had questioned the gunman the day before the shooting, after he had posted on the Internet a video clip of himself at a shooting range, they had not detained him. A similar shooting had occurred in November 2007, at a high school in the town of Tuusula, in which seven students and a teacher were killed before the student-gunman killed himself. (Finnish Deaths Spark Gun Law Call, BBC NEWS, Sept. 24, 2008, available at; Finland Mourns Shooting Victims, BBC NEWS, Nov. 8, 2007, available at

Finland reportedly has more than 670,000 licensed gun holders. Some 20 organizations representing various types of gun enthusiasts oppose the legislation and are working to have it aborted; “many” gun owners reportedly see the draft law as unconstitutional. (HELSINKI TIMES & YLE UUTISET, supra.)