Today the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) heard Estonia’s positions on the proposed amendments to the EU Firearms Directive, and supported them by consensus.
Chairman of the National Defence Committee Marko Mihkelson said that the positions prepared by the Government reflect the positions of the society and interest groups. The proposals presented by the members of the Committee have also been taken into account.
The Committee emphasised that implementation of the Directive in its proposed form would cause problems mainly to the members of the Estonian Defence League and to persons in reserve, and also to hunters and amateur shooters whose firearms have been registered in the civilian register and who use them, among other things, for improving their shooting skills.
In Mihkelson’s opinion, the shooting skills of such people are important from the point of view of national defence, and the level of such skills can be improved or maintained only by constant practice. He drew attention to the fact that persons in reserve can develop their shooting skills only when they take part in reservist trainings. “The amendment to the Directive would directly damage the defence capability of Estonia that is based on the reserve army,” Mihkelson said.
The proposed amendment to the Directive would not concern the firearms entered in the firearms register of the Defence Forces and the Defence League.
The Committee supports Estonia’s position that common health requirements upon issuing a weapons permit should be established in Europe; at the moment these requirements differ by countries or lack altogether. The Committee also supports preventing of illegal arms trade and information exchange that would enable obtaining of information at cross-border level on the refusal by a member state to issue weapons permit to a person.
The National Defence Committee does not support including pistols among semi-automatic firearms because this would involve more intensive restricting of the rights of owners of firearms permitted for civilian purposes, depriving them of the right to defend themselves, their family members and property against direct or immediately impending attack. “Prohibiting such pistols would not give the desired result, because it would first of all concern law-abiding citizens,” Mihkelson said.
Estonia does not support the possibility to restrict the collecting of weapons proposed by the directive. The draft amendment to the Directive provides that the deactivated firearms owned by collectors should be further deactivated, which would involve additional expenses.
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