Weapons Companies Not the Only Group Pushing for Expanded Gun Ownership in Russia, Grinkevich Says
Staunton, August 8 – Many assume
moves to allow Russians to own more guns and to do so with fewer restrictions
is the work of the gun lobby, the network of companies that make and sell
weapons and that benefit from expanding their markets, Vladislav Grinkevich
says. But that is not the case: many others, including some individual lawyers
are involved as well.
The Russian commentator notes that
the actions of the big gun manufacturers always get widespread media attention
as do any crimes committed by Russians who own guns legally or illegally. But
the manufacturers are no longer the only game in town as far as expanding
access to guns is concerned (profile.ru/obsch/item/126357-nuzhno-bolshe-stvolov).
corporations are supported not only by people in official structures like the
Military-Industrial Commission but also by lawyers who have adopted the
strategy of “small victories” to extend the rights of Russians to own more guns
of more varied types, Grinkevich continues.
he says, the Russian arms lobby “consists of the very same players as the one
in the US: arms companies and structures like the Union of Russian Arms
Manufacturers, sporting and hunting organizations, public movements, and
individual politicians and activists” of various kinds.
the size of the Russian lobby is entirely different: If the NRA in the US has
five million members and is politically powerful, “not a single Russian
organization” involved in this fight can count on more than two or three
thousand members. As a result, they don’t have the clout and typically follow
in the wake of the arms manufacturers.
legislation is “much stricter than in the US, Canada, Switzerland, and Austria”
and than in many former countries of the eastern bloc. But “on the other hand,
Russians have a greater possibility of owning weapons than do the English and
the French” and than do residents of Ukraine, Belarus and Central Asia.
approximately 2013, Grinkevich continues, the main goal of Russia’s arms lobby
was to change laws so that Russians could own pistols and more rifles and other
long guns.That program was promoted by
the Right to Arms, founded by Maria Butina, who has attracted notoriety
recently following her arrest in the US as a Russian agent.
and her group were supported by then-Senator Aleksandr Torshin, who is now
deputy head of the Central Bank. But despite their efforts and a report they
released suggesting that the government would take in billions of rubles in
fees if it agreed to liberalization, they did not make big progress with the
government or the Duma.
these groups focused primarily on pistols, they also alienated many hunting and
sporting groups who suggested that this was the wrong approach because it would
frighten the population and make it more difficult for sports enthusiasts to
gain the right to own more and different kinds of long weapons.
these groups have been pushing what can be called “the strategy of small
victories,” using lawyer activists to push the limits of the law in localities
and thus expand gun ownership and gun rights. One commentator said he would
call these people “extremist lawyers in the good sense.”
efforts, Mikhail Degtyaryev continues, show that “we live in a legal state. We
see real results from the struggle for our legal rights. Results with a
positive effect.”And these victories
have been solidified by certain modifications in laws by the Duma that have
expanded gun ownership as well.
lawyer activists and the gun lobby more generally have serious support within
the government, including Dmitry Rogozin, now head of Roskosmos, Igor
Shchegolyev, presidential plenipotentiary in the Central Federal District, and
Sergy Kiriyenko, first deputy head of the Presidential Administration.
they and their allies still face an uphill battle to expand gun ownership
possibilities, Aleksandr Kudryashov, the editor of Russia’s leading gun rights
publication, Kalibr, says.According to him, “a pistol in contemporary
Russia is viewed not as a weapon but as an attribute of membership in a certain
have the sense, he says, that “if you have a pistol, you are from one stratum.
Without a pistol, from another. With a pistol but without permission from a
third.All who are focused on this issue
know that [someone with a pistol] is either a deputy or a high-ranking official
or has 100,000 dollars” to spend.
is, he concludes, “today a citizen with a little pistol for the present powers
that be is just like a peasant with a sabre was in tsarist Russia,” someone who
doesn’t quite fit the model that the regime has for itself.