Finland already has quite "strict" firearms legislation and now is not the right time to discuss tightening it, Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said, following a school shooting this week in which a 12-year-old boy shot three classmates.

A 12-year-old boy on Tuesday brought a relative's revolver to Viertola school near Helsinki, shot dead a fellow sixth-grader and severely injured two others.

Finnish interior ministry data show there are more than 1.5 million licensed firearms and about 430,000 licence holders in the nation of 5.6 million people, where hunting and target shooting are popular pastimes.

Finland's rate of civilian firearms per capita was the highest among European Union countries, a study by Small Arms Survey found in 2018, but Rantanen said the high number of guns does not make Finland "a gun violent country".

"The police investigation is in its early stages, and even if they make swift progress, this is by no means the right time to comment on whether we should tighten our gun legislation," Rantanen told Reuters late on Thursday, adding that the time for political conclusions would come later.

The permit for the .22 calibre revolver used in Tuesday's attack belonged to a relative of the suspect, police said, adding this kind of gun is typically used in target shooting.

Gun owners are required by law to keep their weapons locked away.



The number of shooting practitioners has increased in Finland since neighbouring Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Finland's defence is built on conscription which is compulsory for all men, and reservists are encouraged to practise shooting to maintain their skills.

In Finland's four-party, right-wing coalition Rantanen represents the nationalist Finns Party, which has opposed stricter gun laws, and she said her party's line had not changed.

There have been no major calls from opposition parties to tighten gun legislation since Tuesday's shooting.

Finland will continue to ensure that reservists can practise shooting and to protect shooting and hunting as pastimes as they have a long history in the country, Rantanen said.

"I can say generally of our gun legislation that it is quite good and strict to begin with, but then there is the question whether it is abided by," she said.

The chairman of the Finnish parliament's defence committee, Jukka Kopra of the National Coalition Party, echoed Rantanen's words, saying discussing gun laws now would be "artificial".

"We need to explore ways to help young people and prevent them from doing such things in the future," Kopra told Reuters. (Reporting by Anne Kauranen Editing by Gareth Jones)