Finland shooting spree leaves 3 people dead only days after parliament amended new Gun Control Act

Within the last hour Associated Press has reported through dozens of media outlets that at least 3 people are dead as a result of a shooting spree at a southwestern farm in Finland.

AP reports that the Iltaheli local newspaper cited witnesses, saying that all victims are believed to be adults.

Mayry police have confirmed a report that several people are dead.

However, it was not immediately clear if others were injured in the shooting that took place about noon Saturday in the small town of Mayry.

Police were not immediately available to comment. The broadcaster Yle said police were expected to make a statement later in the day.

The tragic news comes during a time that the country is aggressively seeking to tighten their control of firearms, especially hand weapons. Just this past Wednesday the Finnish parliament successfully voted to approve a newly amended Gun Control Act.

During the period of less than one year from November 2007 to September 2008, two fatal school shooting incidents happened in Finland, causing 18 deaths, and the two murders’ suicides. The murders easily received gun licenses before committing offences, providing convenience to crimes.

After the two school shootings happened, the Finnish public opinion called for government to further restrict guns. The Finnish government started soon to amend the existing Gun Control Act, in order to more strictly regulate firearms, especially hand weapons.

The newly amended Gun Control Act approved by the Finnish Parliament on Oct. 27 strictly limits the purchase and possessing of pistols and revolvers by Finnish citizens, and raises the minimum age requirement for purchase and possessing of gun licenses by Finnish citizens from 18 to 20 years old.

The period of validity of a new gun license has been changed to five years. In addition, a Finnish citizen must pass a special test to apply for a gun license. If necessary, the police might also ask doctor to provide the health information of the applicant, to decide whether or not to issue a gun license to him.

The new Gun Control Act also regulates that doctor has obligation to circulate a notice to the police when he diagnoses that his patient is not suitable to hold a gun, according to his health condition and behavior. After receiving a notice, the police will investigate carefully, in order to make clear if it is necessary to cancel the person’s gun license.

In the wake of Saturday afternoon’s latest mass shooting Finland officials are believed to be rapidly moving to put the new Gun Control Act into effect as soon as possible.

As we have pointed out, gun control has been a big social problem in Finland. The gun-holding rate in Finland is the highest in Europe. In Finland with only 5.3 million population, the number of firearms held by individuals and organizations is as high as 1.6 million. Gun-holding rate per capita ranks the third in the world, after the United States and Yemen.

We will update this latest tragedy in Finland as soon as new information becomes available.

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