News

11 December 2015

THE SPORT SHOOTING COMMUNITY IS PROTESTING AGAINST SEVERAL PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE EU DIRECTIVE ON FIREARMS

The sport shooting community is protesting against several proposed amendments to the EU Directive on Firearms.

The Executive Board of the Finnish Sport Shooting Federation, for example, has sent the following letter to the national Ministries of Defense and of Interior, to the Finnish Members of the EU Parliament and to the EU Commissioner Jyrki Katainen:

The European Commission published its proposals for amendments of the firearm directive on Wednesday 18.11.2015. They were published straight after terror acts in Paris, and there are several points, which would significantly harm the Finnish shooting sport and hobby.

The Finnish Sport Shooting Federation stresses that sport shooting is of highly responsible, disciplined and regulated sport, and there are nothing in common with terrorism ideology and acts. The Finnish Sport Shooting Federation operates according to the Finnish legislation, mainly the Sport Act, which is supported, guided and controlled by the Ministry of Education.

The Finnish Sport Shooting Federation, like other shooting organizations in Finland, supports all acts that reduces illicit weapons but does not accept any tightening to legal gun ownership. The federation regards that existing firearm laws are adequate enough. Furthermore, the Finnish Sport Shooting Federation expressed its points of view about possible EU firearms amendments to the Administration Committee of Finnish Parliament on November, 12. In the statement the federation pointed out that restrictions to sport shooting are not acceptable.

The Finnish Sport Shooting Federation consists of 304 shooting clubs and 34 000 members. About those, 20 000 - 25 000 members shoot once or more times in a week. Shooting sport is a sport of a whole life span. The youngest are 8 years old and the oldest over 80 years old. There are competition series to every year classes, both sexes and also for disabled persons.

The Finnish Sport Shooting Federation runs eight disciplines groups in which there are many different kind of sub-groups. Olympic competition disciplines are 15 and in non-Olympic groups there are several. For example, in practical shooting there are 20 competition disciplines and in silhouette shooting 14. Naturally, every discipline needs its own specific sport equipment; a rifle, a pistol or a shotgun.

The Finnish Sport Shooting Federation organized on a national or a sub-national level 350 events, of which 44 were Finnish championships in year 2014. There are also events on a international level in sport shooting disciplines to which possible tightening of EU firearms directive would have remarkable effects (e.g. one Olympic discipline, many national pistol disciplines and practical shooting disciplines). The new amendment for the firearms directive will hamper also competitions disciplines of the Finnish Reservist Sport Association. The EU proposal for denying all military look-alike weapons and other self loading weapons will stop many our shooting disciplines completely. That will arise a serious question how to compensate hundreds of million Euros to whole shooting entity.

The Finnish Sport Shooting Federation stresses that the activities of all shooting organizations are responsible, disciplined and strictly regulated by the international shooting organizations. Activities in sport shooting training sessions and competitions are always well organized and conducted. Pointing a human with firearm is absolutely prohibited in all occasions and leads to immediate rejection in competition. Sport shooting must not be compared to any criminal activities. Shotguns, rifles and pistols are sport equipments that are according to the strict rules of international shooting organizations. Acquirement, possession and storing of those sport equipment is already now strictly regulated by the national authorities.

The Finnish Sport Shooting Federation sees that the permission of firearm license to some specific ruled and fixed disciplines may come complicated when disciplines will be varied, developed or all new discipline will be settled (note IOC, ISSF or IPSC rules). This kind of fixed firearm permission may need more bureaucratic work afterwards and it would not guarantee firearm safety. Firearms safety does not come into existence by concentrating into technical details of firearms, but authorities should put emphasis into individual users and purpose of use of firearm. Furthermore, categorized restrictions to capacity of magazines are not a solution for improving firearm safety. The basis for evaluation of attributes of firearms should be done according to the features of shooting disciplines, not to a theoretical firepower (maximum rate of fire, continuation of fire, range, hit probability and effect on target etc). The federation sees also that the temporary firearm licenses do not improve firearm safety.

The Finnish Sport Shooting Federation proposes that instead of restricting legal gun ownership, EU directives and national laws should put more emphasis on illicit gun trade and firearms possession.

Furthermore, The Finnish Sport Shooting Federation proposes that Finland should create clear and long term firearm legislation roadmap according to which all authorities will coherently act. That roadmap should be done in full co-operation with the shooting entity. There should not be set any hesitated changes to laws and other regulations of which meaning and importance for firearm safety and other consequences are not fully studied.