The Russian government announced last week that it will be easing restrictions on firearms and will be allowing licensed gun owners to carry firearms for self-defense. According to the TASS news agency, gun owners were previously only allowed to bring their firearms to sporting events, target practice, or on hunting excursions. Now an addendum to the law will also include self-defense as a valid reason to carry guns.
“You can get a lot more done with politeness and a weapon than with politeness alone,” Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly said last week at a meeting of the Russia United People’s Front.
According to RIA Novosti, “self-defense firearms” in Russia include pistols, revolvers, smoothbore long-barreled guns, as well as Tasers and any device that emits teargas. Most long guns and edged weapons, however, remain illegal to carry. The rule change also forbids firearms from being brought to some public places such as schools and bars, as well as being carried in large public gatherings or demonstrations. Foreigners looking to bring their own firearms into Russia or purchase guns during their stay will also see reduced limitations. Visitors to Russia will now have a grace period of 10 days to acquire a firearms license from the Interior Ministry.
Gun rights activists celebrated the new rule changes and said that the ability to carry firearms in self-defense is necessary in light of rising crime rates. In 2012, the Russia-based Right to Bear Arms organization defended a woman named Tatyana Kudryavtseva after she stabbed and killed a man who was attempting to rape her. According to The New Republic, the woman faced 15 years in prison, but was exonerated with legal assistance from the organization. Right to Bear Arm’s founder, Maria Butina, said the whole incident may have been avoided altogether if the woman had been armed with a gun.
“A person may decide not to commit a crime if he thinks he may be shot or may encounter resistance,” Butina said.
Butina and other pro-gun activists are trying to promote firearms for self-defense in a country with no constitutional right to bear arms, although that is another thing she wants to change. According to the International Business Times, there are about 13 million firearms in Russia, compared to the more than 310 million in the United States.