TALLINN - Estonian Minister of the Interior Lauri Laanemets introduced to the government on Thursday amendments to the Weapons Act enabling the use digital solutions in the handling of weapons permits and green-lighting the development of an electronic register for service weapons and arms for civilian use.
"When the bill in question enters into force, we will definitively abandon domestic paper permits and only permits pertaining to the weapon's movement across the border will remain in paper form. As a result, we'll become faster and more precise and render the procedure for applying for a weapons permit paperless," Laanemets said. He added that the drafting of the bill began over a year ago and comes as a follow-up to the amendment of the Weapons Act that enabled issuing weapons permits to natural persons on paper as well as in electronic form.
"It is time that we achieve fully paperless proceedings and that police officers should no longer compare different registers by hand. To this end, a new register for service weapons and arms for civilian use is about to be completed, which meets all modern needs and security requirements," the minister said. He noted that the amendment is first and foremost geared and rendering the processes of applying for and extending weapons permits more efficient. Said efforts began already in 2018 and the change will make the procedure more convenient for applicants and enables them to mainly communicate with the state without having to physically go to a service office, the minister added.
"It is important to note that this bill is not due to Russia's aggression against Ukraine. The application and extension procedures regarding weapons permits will not change for the police. The procedure will simply be relocated to a database that enables to check the information on the criminal records in real time, thereby making the procedure more efficient. Interviews will still be conducted face to face because police officials must verify the suitability of the applicant seeking to receive or extend a weapons permit," Laanemets said.
The transition from the old register to the new one is planned to take place in the second quarter of 2023, however, development works towards the completion of a fully digital weapons register will also continue after that.