Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Heavily Armed Population Can Prevent Crime and Genocide, Moscow Paper Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 29 – The recent armed attack on the Lubyanka has sparked the usual calls from those opposed to private gun ownership to confiscate weapons so that they cannot be misused, Petr Ivanchenko says; but those calls ignore the fact that FSB officers at the Lubyanka are no longer armed and that an armed population can prevent crime and even genocide.

            “That an armed individual is a potential defender capable of preventing a crime and even coming out in defense of his Motherland and his people,” the Segodnya writer says, is something that “doesn’t enter the heads” of the opponents of gun ownership despite the history of the wild 1990s and more recently (pda.segodnia.ru/content/222940).

            In the 1990s, the Georgian authorities sought to confiscate weapons from South Ossetian and Abkhazian activists to make it harder for the latter to defend themselves against Tbilisi. “Today, thank God, ‘the holy 1990s’ are behind us, and genocide and ethnic purges no longer threaten the population,” Ivanchenko says. 

            “But even in our peaceful times, guns sometimes help to preserve people,” he continues, pointing to the ethnic clashes in Sagra in 2011 and incidents in Yekaterinburg in 2016. And worse, as the Lubyanka case shows, the absence of gun ownership represents a threat to people’s live and public order.

            Those who favor the confiscation of guns say that only professionals should have them and be allowed to use them against criminals. But that ignores the fact that the police can’t be everywhere and the even more important fact that the police and other siloviki even if they have guns are afraid to use them lest they find themselves charged with a crime.

            With regard to the Lubyanka shooting, Ivanchenko says, “we note that not one of the FSB employees who came out had a gun which he could have used against the murderer.”  In Soviet times, he says, that would have been unthinkable as KGB officers had to carry arms to defend themselves and other citizens. Even civil aviation pilots had to carry guns. Not now.

            Moreover, the Segodnya commentator continues, societies and governments see private ownership of guns as a means of defending not just individuals against crime but as an important component of state defense. In the Baltic countries and Poland, he points out, participation in shooting clubs is “a patriotic step and shows a readiness to the defense of one’s country.”

            Russia must adopt a similar approach, he says. Otherwise those favoring confiscation of guns in private hands will be left with nothing besides what was left to the hero in one of Vladimir Putin’s anecdotes.  A young man who gave up his father’s dagger for a watch could only respond when he was attacked: “’It’s 5:30.”

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