Staunton, October 5 – There have not been any mass shootings in Russia equivalent to what just happened in Las Vegas, but there are now more guns in private hands and some of them have been used for violent crimes. Moreover, some officials are concerned that these weapons might at some point be used against the state.
Vladimir Putin’s Russian Guard, the government agency responsible for supervising all civilian weapons, has now proposed three steps that some believe are necessary and that others think will open the way to the complete confiscation of guns from legitimate hunters and those concerned with self-defense.
Specifically, the Russian Guard has proposed new legislation that would allow officials to deny licenses to anyone they wanted to without giving a reason, although anyone denied could appeal to the courts, to require the licensing of almost all pneumatic-powered guns, and to tighten supervision over places where guns are stored (lenta.ru/articles/2017/10/05/rosgvard/).
Russian lawyers are already pointing out the likelihood that such legislation will be poorly written and overly broad and thus will be used in ways that will undermine the rights of Russian citizens. And hunting enthusiasts are already outraged at what they see as overreach by the Russian bureaucracy.
“Unfortunately,” Sergey Trifonov, an educator and sportsman, says, “the Russian Guard has been moving along the path of tightening control and issuing bans” without considering what its rules will actually do. Most such restrictions will hit hunters, many of whom have been involved in a completely legal activity for years.
But while some in Russia are fighting against any additional restrictions on the private ownership of guns, others are pushing for elimination of existing laws and allowing ever more people to own guns for self-defense. They argue that criminals won’t attack those they think may be armed, Petr Akopov writes in today’s Vzglyad (vz.ru/politics/2017/10/5/889685.html).
In addition, he says, there are businesses who see the free and unrestricted sale of guns as an enormous market that they want to gain access to. Even if Russians never own as many guns per capita as Americans do, any expansion in their possession of weapons could be expected to make money for the manufacturers or importers.
Both Russian gun enthusiasts and these companies say that ‘the fact citizens of Russia can’t buy handguns is reflected in the level of crime in the country. It would be much lower,” they insist, Akopov continues, “if everyone knew that in a pocket or handbag of anyone could be a firearm.” And they now say as Americans do that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”