To get a clear understanding of the current situation, we spoke with Rafail Ruditsky, head of the Civilian Weapons Union in Moscow. “Most Russians do not support the free trade of arms - neither do I - believing there should be tight control over firearm sales.” Substantiating on this and when asked about the United States, he adds, “The American model does not sufficiently limit access to arms in the case of psychologically unstable people and drug addicts.” Add to
Self-defense is an important aspect of Russian law, and the constitution guarantees the right to defend one’s property. Maxim Popenker, a firearms historian
In order to be eligible to purchase a firearm, one must be over the age of 18 and pass extensive background checks; those who suffer from mental illness or have a history of substance abuse are disqualified. Background checks are particularly stringent in regard to the mental health of a buyer, and the Federal Assembly is even considering a law that would punish doctors who misdiagnose or provide inaccurate documentation for mentally ill patients attempting to purchase firearms
Currently in Russia, some organizations demand the legalization of short-barreled weaponsValery Sharifulin/TASS
In regard to firearms, Ruditsky tells us, “Some time ago the Ministry of Internal Affairs estimated it as being from five to 25 million pieces.” While Russia has seen a dramatic decline in terrorist activity since the 1990s, gun crime has risen steadily, peaking in 2015, with 5400 incidents. In contrast, by the turn of April
It remains fairly difficult to properly assess what weapons flow through Russia’s black market and, in the words of Popenker, “The number of legal firearm owners actually dropped recently after the authorities had toughened the rules on the possession of so-called self-defense weapons.” As the government continues to push back against illegal weapons trade, it can be expected that this number of gun-related crimes will gradually
Standing opposite of Russia, the United States celebrates loose gun laws, and the right to own a weapon is protected tooth and nail by the Second Amendment of the Constitution. While some states require a license to obtain a firearm, most Americans are able to purchase one with little more than a background check and wait period. Moreover, some states require that all prospective gun owners register the weapon with local law enforcement. More dangerous firearms, namely fully-automatic ones, come with heavy restrictions
Standing opposite of Russia, the United States celebrates loose gun lawsGetty Images
Silencers are also available in the U.S. and are legal in 42 states, with only a handful of restrictions in two. While owning a silencer in Russia is not illegal in itself, using one outside of law enforcement is, and both the gun’s owner and
When asked about what may lie ahead for gun ownership in Russia, not even Popenker is able to make a confident inference: ”The attitude of Russians is distorted by the very question – whether you support the free sale of firearms. This approach scares people off. In any case, there cannot be a ‘free sale’. There should be some checks anyway. In general, most people are either indifferent to the issue or not sufficiently informed.”
It remains difficult to talk about whether gun culture will survive in Russia like it has in the United States. In fact, many Russians grew up in a time when owning a weapon was unthinkable due to the restrictions and punishment involved. But as time ushers in a new generation of citizens, the future is highly uncertain. “It is also hard to say whether people’s attitudes to the topic are changing. Due to the toughening of procedures, some people declined
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