Finland and its semi-automatic rifles

As a consequence of the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, the EU commission proposed tighter rules governing the issue and use of guns, including a ban for private persons to hold certain semi-automatic firearms. This is unacceptable to Finland for reasons of national defense, and the issue has now attracted some international media attention as well. See:

The Finnish system of national defense is based on conscription and trained reserve, with a planned mobilizable strength of 230,000 wartime troops. Details can be found at the official website of the Finnish Defense Forces, see: . Most EU countries today rely on professional armies, so it can be hard in them to understand a reservist-based system of defense.

What is the role then in the Finnish system of privately owned semi-automatic rifles?

After having completed their conscript service of 165, 255 or 347 days, motivated reservists have the opportunity of keeping up their military skills by joining local organizations of voluntary national defence. In co-operation with the Defence Forces, they arrange voluntary training, including small arms shooting and competitions in Sovellettu reserviläisammunta (SRA) or Applied Reservists’ Shooting, see:

The rules of this shooting sport are defined by the Reservists’ Sports League, and it is meant for the comparison and development of the situational shooting skills of Finnish reservists. The weapons used are mainly semi-automatic rifles, but also pistols, shotguns and sniper rifles. Fully automatic weapons are not specifically banned, but firing bursts is forbidden in competitions, unless specifically allowed. Thus this sport can be fully practised with civilian weapons, as it is very difficult to acquire licenses for automatic weapons in Finland otherwise than for collecting, and the main rule then is to order a ban for firing them.

In Applied Reservists’ Shooting, the competitor is assigned shooting missions in imaginary combat situations, which are carried out in a pre-planned manner. The missions include swift movement, changing of magazines, opening doors and clearing obstacles. Scoring takes into account the shooting accuracy as well as the time consumed.

Special training and approval of a shooting test to ensure safe weapon handling plus insurance are required before a competitor can qualify for this sport. In accordance with Finnish Police instructions for weapon licensing, the Reservists’ shooting is practically the only reason for granting license for a semi-automatic rifle with a magazine for more than three cartritges.

In Finland, the semi-automatic rifles are controlled, owned and handled in an organized manner legally by responsible citizens. They have nothing to do with the black market of illegal weapons in Europe, which is a real security risk for criminal acts, including terrorism.

In YouTube, it is easy to find numerous video clips about the Finnish Applied Reservists’ Shooting by typing as a search term the acronym ”SRA”. You don't need to understand Finnish to get the idea — just watch:

What is it that motivates individuals to devote their own time and money for a sport like this? It is a matter of spirit, something that is not for sale in the international arms market at any price.

It is also something that will give credibility to our national defense and guarantee a very different reception to the famous Little Green Men, compared to how it went in Crimea 2014, should those ever arrive at Finland.














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