80 Percent of 25 Million Guns Now in Private Hands in Russia are Held Illegally, Experts Say
January 17 – A recent rise in armed violence in Russia has called attention to the
growing number of guns in private hands in that country, including into the
hands of people who are nominally denied the right to own them but who are able
to make an end run around restrictions via the black market.
“Komsomolskaya Pravda,” journalist Aleksandr Rogoza points to the notorious
case of a man who was undergoing psychiatric care and had committed violent crimes
but nevertheless not only acquired new weapons but also became an instructor in
their use at a private Moscow gun club as part of a larger problem (kp.ru/daily/26630/3649553/).
a license to own a gun in Russia is not difficult but it is slower and more
cumbersome than acquiring a gun on the black market. The first takes two or
three weeks without a bribe; two or three days with one. The latter can be done
almost immediately although prices are still high.
Russian National Guard which is now the gatekeeper for registration says that
the Russian people now have registered with its officers “more than five
million” guns of various kinds; but that is a small fraction of the some 20
million additional guns now illegally held by criminals and others.
major reason that many Russians are seeking to acquire guns now is out of fear
that they or their family members will be robbed or assaulted by criminals with
guns, a fear that is sparking a veritable arms race as criminals arm themselves
to deal with others who are armed and the latter do the same.
despite widespread beliefs that Russia has tight and effective gun control
arrangements, that is not so.Mikhail
Ignatov, a retired militiaman, says that “there is a very great deal of corruption
in our present system of getting permission to own a weapon” and that to avoid
more bloodshed, the system must be changed.
major problem, he says, is that officials of the Russian National Guard don’t examine
critically the documents presented to them and thus fail to recognize that many
of the medical certificates required can be acquired by applicants on the
Internet for ten to fifteen thousand rubles from people who have never examined
an even larger problem, the “Moskovsky komsomolets” journalist suggests, is
that ever more people are simply avoiding the legal registration system
altogether and getting the guns they want on the black or gray market, a choice
that makes it ever more likely that such weapons will fall into the wrong hands
or be misused in other ways.