Customs uncovers several cases of smuggling involving high-power air guns – hundreds of weapons sold without required authorisations by Finnish arms businesses
During 2021 and 2022, Customs has uncovered several cases of importation of high-power air guns in which private persons have not met the legal requirements for importing weapons to Finland. Furthermore, high-power air guns were brought to Finland for commercial purposes. Hundreds of those weapons were sold by Finnish arms businesses without the required permits.
In 2021, Customs seized weapons found in postal consignments that arrived in Finland. Customs suspected that the weapons were high-power air guns. A high-powered air gun is defined as an object which has been manufactured in 1950 or later with a minimum inside diameter of the barrel of more than 6.35 millimetres and which functions by the action of air pressure or the pressure of other compressed gas and which is designed and intended to expel metal bullets.
According to a statement that Customs received from the National Police Board of Finland, the “Umarex” T4E HDR50 and T4E HDS68 air guns met the definition of a high-powered air gun. According to the statement, there was reason to suspect firearms offences in the context of the importers’ activity, as they did not meet the requirements laid down in the Finnish Firearms Act with regard to importing weapons. The Firearms Act provides among other things that the transfer and import of firearms to Finland, as well as trade, acquisition, possession and manufacture involving firearms are subject to licence. Acquisition and possession of a high-powered air gun require a notification to the authorities if the person obtaining or possessing an air gun has previously obtained the right to the possession of a firearm.
Customs has conducted several preliminary investigations involving high-powered air guns at various locations in Finland. Customs has already referred most of the cases to the National Prosecution Authority for consideration of charges.
Illegal import and sale of weapons by businesses
As Customs investigated the cases involving import by private individuals, it came to light that high-powered air guns of the “Umarex T4E” product family are sold illegally in Finland by various businesses that sell weapons.
– We conducted searches at the businesses involved in 2022 and seized about 140 high-powered air guns at several shops in Finland. We suspect that the weapons were imported illegally. The businesses involved have not been authorised to import high-powered air guns for commercial purposes to Finland, or to re-sell them without appropriate permits from the National Police Board, says Mr Kimmo Kaunisto, the lead investigator of the case.
Moreover, businesses are suspected of having sold hundreds of high-powered air guns around Finland over the years to persons who have lacked the legal right to acquire such weapons. Customs has questioned persons in responsible positions at the businesses on suspicion of firearms offence, and requested a statement from the National Police Board on some of the seized weapons. The preliminary investigations relating to the activity of the businesses are still ongoing.
Customs advises that any persons who have not met the requirements for obtaining and possessing weapons of the “Umarex” product family, but who nonetheless have acquired such weapons, should reserve an appointment with their local police departments for handing over their weapons.