Estonia to start issuing weapons permits to EU, NATO member states' citizens only

  • 2023-02-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Estonian parliament at a sitting on Wednesday passed a law pursuant to which weapons permits are only to be issued in Estonia to EU and NATO member states' citizens holding a residence permit in Estonia or residing in Estonia based on a right of residence.

The weapons permits of other foreign nationals will be declared invalid and their issuance will be discontinued. The permits issued to persons of undetermined citizenship will remain valid until the date indicated on the permit, that is for a maximum of five years.

Other foreign nationals' permits will remain valid for one year. The transition period will provide an opportunity to adapt to the change, transfer or deactivate one's weapons or take steps to change one's citizenship. If necessary, the weapons and ammunition of such persons will be expropriated.

Pursuant to the law, only foreign nationals with a good command of the Estonian language will be able to acquire a weapons permit in the future as the examination for acquiring the permit will be fully conducted in Estonian. The basis for refusing a weapons permit to an applicant will be supplemented and people who have committed a severe criminal offense will be barred from ever getting a weapons license.

Besides, the law makes it possible for the state to pay a compensation to municipalities whose territory is home to a training area of the defense forces or the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer cops, or who have to endure the noise, vibration and increased vehicular traffic volumes associated with military training areas. The compensation would allow for the construction of, for example, noise barrier walls and pedestrian and cycle paths. The details of such subsidies will be laid down with a government regulation.

The bill enables the Police and Border Guard Board and the Internal Security Service (ISS) to handle explosives and extending the list of weapons these agencies are authorized to use. The Police and Border Guard Board, the defense forces and the ISS will have the right to use weapons of war during periods of increased defense readiness, a state of emergency or a state of war in order to increase their capability to counter threats and prevent offenses.

Furthermore, the possibilities of using a silencer in hunting were expanded.

The law is planned to enter into force on March 15.

The bill amending the Weapons Act and related laws, initiated by the legal affairs committee of the parliament and the Isamaa group, was passed with 67 votes for and three against.