Latvians somewhat more eager to own weapons over past two years

Since Russia started the war against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the interest of Latvian residents in obtaining weapons permits has increased. Although the number of firearms owners in Latvia has decreased during this period, the number of registered weapons has increased, LSM's Latvian language service reports April 22.

In Latvia, natural persons may receive weapons permits for self-defense, hunting, sport, or collection. More than 74,000 weapons had been registered in Latvia by March this year. 62,491 firearms are currently registered as hunting rifles, followed by 11,346 firearms registered for self-defense.

A 2018 study of the independent research project Small Arms Survey shows that the estimated number of firearms per 100 inhabitants in Latvia is 10.53, which ranks Latvia closer to the bottom among European Union (EU) Member States. In Lithuania, the survey estimates this figure at 13.59, in Estonia – 4.96. 

Since January 2016, when about 67,000 weapons were registered in Latvia, the number of firearms in the country for natural persons has increased by more than 7,000. The increase has varied annually from about 700 to 1,300 weapons, except between 2022 and 2023, when Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This year saw the number of weapons rise by more than 1,600.

Though there has been an increase in the number of registered weapons in recent years, the number of firearms owners has decreased – in January 2016, there were 33,259 gun owners in Latvia, but by the beginning of 2024 there were 30,613 gun owners.

 The number of firearms registered for self-defense has increased since Russia's war against Ukraine began. 11,054 weapons were registered for self-defense in January 2022, 11,320 in January 2023, and now 11,346.

Traders and police also say that residents' interest in obtaining a weapon has increased, but not en masse.

The State Police told the portal that since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, residents' interest in arranging and obtaining weapons permits has generally increased slightly. This is confirmed, for example, by the number of gun purchase permits issued by the police. in 2021, 2,949 natural and 17 legal persons were granted gun purchase permits, while in 2022 3,712 and 87 permits of this type were issued, respectively, and in 2023 3,026 and 40.

The process of issuing a permit to hold weapons in Latvia is rigorous, difficult and expensive enough. In order to possess a weapon, a general medical examination must be conducted, a first medical treatment course must be passed, an examination must be taken – the ability to handle a weapon, for hunting weapons also a hunting examination, and then a submission must be submitted to the State Police. A safe to store the weapon will also be required and must comply with all rules.

The police emphasized that the right to a weapon is exclusive in Latvia. When a person becomes the owner of a weapon, the State Police supervise that all the requirements necessary for obtaining a weapon are met, as well as inspecting the storage of firearms.

Seen a mistake?

Select text and press Ctrl+Enter to send a suggested correction to the editor

Select text and press Report a mistake to send a suggested correction to the editor

Related articles


Most important