Police wants public to report possibly problematic gun owners

After a bloody double murder in Madona municipality, Latvia's police want to step up public involvement in reporting gun owners with addiction problems.

In particular, the man who shot two other men and later hung himself in prison was found heavily intoxicated and had alcohol problems. He had been a hunter and had a gun license. 

"If the police had received information that this person has problems with alcohol, I think he would not have had the gun to carry out the crime. And that's very sad. I ask relatives, family members, acquaintances and friends [to report] as this way we can save lives," said State Police head Ints Ķuzis October 2.

Gun regulations are fairly strict in Latvia. Potential gun owners are vetted for past crimes as well as extremist ties in addition to being subjected to a psychiatric evaluation. Police can likewise carry out checks over whether storage regulations are followed. 

Licenses are issued for five years for collectible guns and guns used for self-defense. Hunters' gun licenses don't have an expiry date but are reviewed every five years.

State Police representative Andris Melkeris said that every case should be evaluated separately. For example, people who carry out a criminal or administrative crime have their licences revoked, with 19 revoked in 2017, 26 in 2018 and 18 in 2019 so far for criminal crimes, he said.

There are 32,481 registered gun owners in Latvia, most of them hunters. These people own about 70,000 guns altogether. 

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