Saturday, April 1, 2017

Putin’s National Guard Alarmed by Rising Tide of Gun Ownership among Russians

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 1 – Vladimir Putin’s National Guard is alarmed by the rapidly rising tide of gun ownership by private individuals in Russian and shortcomings in the companies that are supposed to store these weapons, but the figures the Guard cites likely understate the problem by a factor of five.

            According to the figures its first deputy commander provided TASS yesterday, some 4.5 million Russians own 7.3 million firearms, up from 4.4 and 6.7 million respectively a year ago (  and

            But these figures are only for guns registered with the authorities. According to independent experts, there are at least four times as many more unregistered guns in Russia, a share and a number that has likely gone up since the invasion of Ukraine (See  and

            Col.Gen. Sergey Melikov, the officer in question, said that his institution plans to tighten the rules governing enterprises financed by the state that provide protective services. He said such a step was needed because “there are a very large number of weapons in private hands now.”

            There are more than 23,000 such services in Russia today, of which “about 6,000” areknow to have approximately 80,000 guns for their officers.  Moscow shut down 904 such agencies last year because of violations of existing law.      

            Melikov added that “the number of crimes committed with registered weapons rose four times in 2015 from the number in 2014.” These mostly involved the illegal use of pneumatic pistols. There were reports earlier this year that such weapons would soon be banned (, but those reports have been denied.

            What is perhaps most disturbing about this is that the National Guard is going after those who have at least nominally tried to obey the law by registering their weapons as required rather than the much larger number who have guns illegally because they have never sought registration with the state.

            In many ways, that is typical of gun control efforts in many countries: It is far easier for police forces to go after those who register their weapons than after those who do not, even though it is almost certain that in Russia as in other countries, the larger number of illegally held weapons is a far greater problem – but one far more difficult for the authorities to tackle.

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