Handgun ban demanded in Finland

In the wake of two school shootings, a petition calling for a Finnish ban against handguns was handed over to the country's interior minister Anne Holmlund this week. Some 57,000 people signed the online petition, Finnish news agency STT reported.

Finnish authorities have introduced stricter rules for gun permits. This includes the law which states that two police officers must interview prospective applicants jointly. A first-time applicant cannot get a license for a handgun without having been a member of a shooting club for at least a year.

Holmlund has also commissioned a review of current legislation.

Former defence minister Elisabeth Rehn, who was present at the handover, told broadcaster YLE she hoped for "clear rules."

Signatories of the petition said airguns could suffice for target shooting.

The ban was called against the backdrop of two school shootings, most recently at a trade school in Kauhajoki, western Finland that claimed 11 lives in September.

A year ago, eight people, including six students, were killed at a high school shooting in Jokela, 60 kilometres north of Helsinki.

The interior ministry estimates suggest there are 1.6 million registered weapons, mainly for hunting, owned by about 650,000 people - one of the highest figures for gun ownership of any country in the world.