June 28, 2021
On May 11, 2021 marked a dark day in Russia. A 19-year old teenager, from the city of Kazan, entered his former school, armed with a recently purchased 12-gauge shotgun, set off a homemade bomb, and opened fire. Result: Nine dead and 23 wounded, most of them children. The shooter survived the event and surrendered to the police after a short standoff. Shortly before the shooting, he published a video to his page on a local social network, with usual hate to the society in general and people around him, and plans to kill as many people as possible and then commit suicide.
“Mass shootings” are relatively rare in Russia, and happen once in maybe two or three years. However, due to the fact that most victims were middle-grade school kids, this one caused extensive outrage among the mass media, legislative circles, and general public. It was further fueled by the fact that the perpetrator was previously diagnosed with an Encephalopathy brain disease, but still somehow managed to pass the mandatory medical examinations and legally obtained a shotgun purchase license. With this license, he bought an inexpensive Turkish-made Hatsan pump-action shotgun and several boxes of 12-gauge shells then went to his former school.
It is still unclear what reasons the perpetrator had to kill people he didn’t know before; right now he’s under arrest and undergoing extensive psychiatric exams before facing court. However, politicians caught the wind and started a massive attack on Russian gun rights in the best, or, rather, in the worst style of American gun-grabbers such as Dianne Feinstein and her likes, or, come to that, in the classic style of several countries of the British commonwealth, starting with the United Kingdom itself.
In short order, a list of amendments was introduced into the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. It went through all three mandatory hearings with such a speed that left all those opposed to it stunned. It took exactly one month for State Duma to approve it, and about a week more to be approved by several committees of the upper house of Parliament. The only final step is required for this legislation to pass is official approval by the Russian president Vladimir Putin. Due to this unprecedented speed, the last chance for Russian gun owners to fight this legislation is to flood the Presidential administration with letters requiring a more reasonable approach to the legislation which otherwise would severely damage the Russian gun market, if not kill it outright within several short years.
It is interesting to note that legislation No. 1079629-7 was originally introduced by a group of anti-gun legislators well before the tragic events in Kazan, in December of 2020. It laid dormant for about a half of a year before it was dusted off and severely expanded in its restrictive measures, following the shooting described above.
Now lest look closely at this set of “common sense” gun law amendments Russian gun owners are going to face, if this legislation is signed into law.
I won’t go into many details and list only major attacks on our gun rights, which are included in this proposed law.
- The minimum legal age for applying for a firearms purchase permit is increased from 18 to 21 years
- This is a real gem of legislative logic: the first gun or guns bought on such license can hold no more than 2 shots in one or two barrels; one can’t buy any magazine-fed shotgun (pump-action or semi-automatic) during the first two years of gun ownership and is limited only to grandpa-style single or double guns.
- Prohibition of user-made modifications to the gun that can change its “certified features and properties”. The wording of this item is so vague, ambiguous, and technically unclear that it practically bans any gun tuning and mods, including installation of match triggers, new forends and stocks, pistol grips, and so on.
- Paradox-style bores and muzzle attachments are declared illegal
- Lancaster-style oval bores, previously considered to be “technically smoothbore”, now reclassified as rifled, and would require the same 5-years of previous “truly smoothbore” long gun ownership for the first purchase.
- Denial of firearm purchase permits for people who committed unrelated non-criminal offenses, i.e. driving while intoxicated.
- Mandatory registration of all blank-firing weapons with the local police
There are several other similar additions, but even this list is enough to kill most of the firearm culture that exists in modern Russia.
Let’s be honest – hunting is a slowly dying sport in Russia. While it is popular among Russian men who are aged about forty or more, most new shooters come from entirely different breeds. They have grown up on urban food, action movies, and, last but not least, computer games. Those young men, naturally, prefer “cool-looking” and “tactical” guns as seen in CounterStrike, PUBG, or many other similar titles. Thus far various “rifle-like” semi-automatics with Paradox or Lancaster bores, often based on AK or RPK or even AR-15 rifles, are among the top sellers in the shotgun market for first-time buyers. Item five, in the list above, effectively cuts new shooters from these guns, which also are popular rifle replacements for hunting. Item two also prohibits new shooters from owning ever-popular semi-automatics such as Saiga-12 or Vepr-12, as well as imported or domestic pumps and semi-autos. Even young hunters would be deterred from the sport by not being able to use modern sporting semi-automatics for getting their game. And no new shooters, effectively, means instant stagnation and then fast decline of the gun market, shooting sports, and industry.
So far, this legislation provides a grandfathering clause for all weapons which would be legally owned at the time of it going into effect. It also has a one-year delay once signed into law, so there would be a year of frantic buying of “would be banned” weapons and ammunition. But once the law is in effect, we can say goodbye to the future of gun ownership evolution in Russia.
Apparently, by those extreme restrictions our legislators want to limit access of people to those deadly guns, and thus reduce chances of mass killings. However, for some reason, they completely overlook the homemade bomb, used by the Kazan city murder. As you can expect, making explosives and bombs at home is a strictly prohibited business, and always has been. Look how well this prohibition protected poor kids in this case and numerous cases of other killing explosions…
So far, there’s still some hope to get this stupid legislation repealed or amended for the best, and we do what we can to avoid this catastrophe.
For more information about Russian gun ownership, please see the following Firearms News articles:
From Russia With Love (and Guns)
Russian Gun Store Tour — VIDEO
Former KGB Chief Putin Looking to Outlaw 'Assault Weapons' In Russia
Russia to destroy 4 Million Guns