Staunton, May 28 – Just as in the United States, in Russia, after every mass school shooting, officials propose a variety of steps to tighten control over guns in order to prevent a repetition; but after expressions of support for such moves even at the presidential level, not much happens.
What is striking about this similarity is how two such different systems which react so differently to most issues react in much the same way to this one, a reflection of both the difficulties of regulating weapons and the remarkable political strength of hunters and gun owners generally in both. (On this, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/05/russia-now-has-not-only-columbines-but.html.)
But what is striking as time passes from the latest Russian “Columbine” as its commentators have taken to describing school shootings in the Russian Federation is how much information is coming out about the complexities and loopholes in Russian gun law, a segment of governance that many in the West tend to assume includes only bans.
In fact, as an article in Kazan’s Business-Gazeta points out, Russian laws governing ownership of guns are a hodgepodge of rules, some of which are quite restrictive but easily avoided while others are even less strict than those which exist in other countries including the United States (business-gazeta.ru/article/510945).
There are a large number of paths to gun ownership in the Russian Federation depending on the kind of guns involved. Many of these are filled with obstacles, but the obstacles are easily overcome by anyone who wants to take the time to navigate them. What is striking is that it is easier for ordinary Russians to get a handgun for personal use than it is for siloviki to do so.
According to the Kazan portal, “every third siloviki does not get permission” for personal weapons when he applies, but the share of ordinary Russians who do is much larger. That is because the siloviki operate under tighter control in this respect than do other Russians who often can pick and choose how to apply for weapons.
One of the most striking gaps in Russian gun laws is that there are absolutely no limits on how many bullets anyone can purchase at any one time. People can buy a handful or “an entire carload,” Business-Gazeta says. There are even procedures for getting permission for importing ammunition on an individual basis.
All this means that once an individual does have a gun, he is likely to be able to stockpile an enormous quantity of ammunition he can then use without any supervisions, thus creating a situation where mass violence becomes more rather than less likely.
The portal notes that after every mass shooting in Russia in recent years, politicians have called for tighter controls; but despite their calls, almost nothing has happened. In the weeks since the latest “Columbine,” even President Vladimir Putin has called for changes. But they haven’t happened at least not yet.
Indeed, the only change that has occurred is in the city where the shooting happened, officials have purchased more street cameras to monitor people. There hasn’t even been a willingness to put more guards at the schools because there is a raging controversy over whether Moscow or the localities should pay for this.