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President Zelenskyy: Open Up Ukrainian Gun Ownership!

Ukraine Has Had Eight Years to Prepare the Population Against a Nation Which Has Persecuted it for Hundreds of Years, Yet Zelenskyy Refuses to Cut the Red Tape on Firearms Ownership

President Zelenskyy: Open Up Ukrainian Gun Ownership!

To fully understand Ukrainian history, one must go back long before Russia, or its original name, Muscovy, was formed. You see, Ukrainians are the Kyivan-Rus people and Ukrainians are not Russians – different culture, different ethnicity. Ukraine isn’t and never was the “little brother” of Russia, although Russian propaganda and “Russification” have led many in the west to believe those falsehoods. A good summary of this history can be found in this article, How Moscow hijacked the history of Kyivan Rus’ by Euromaidan Press.

Ukraine has endured centuries of oppression by Muscovy which transformed its name to what eventually became known as Russia after the defeat of the Kyivan Rus Empire. This oppression included efforts to destroy its culture, revise its history, erase its language, and exterminate its population. Ukrainians using their language were persecuted greatly in the 1800s, and punishments included prison, beatings, exile to Russia, and even death. Look at Ukrainian currency and you will see pictures of the famous poet Taras Shevchenko who was persecuted his entire life for efforts to preserve the Ukrainian language and culture – he is righty revered in Ukrainian society as a hero. With the Communist Bolshevik Revolution after WWI, there was a few years of reestablished Ukrainian autonomy, but this was soon crushed by the communists. The communists continued persecution of Ukrainians and the result today can still be seen in the “Russian speakers” in the eastern half of the country. Generations of Ukrainians were forced to only speak Russian and KGB thug Vladimir Putin still uses communist propaganda to claim “ownership” over the population that speaks Russian, even though almost all Ukrainians who speak Russian are not pro-Russian Ukrainians or ethnic Russians.

Persecution of Ukrainians reached its height from 1932-1933 when Stalin, Putin’s favorite communist leader, exterminated somewhere between seven and 12-million Ukrainians in the largest genocide by famine in world history. (Western Ukraine was spared from this genocide but was under Polish domination during that time.) This genocide is known as the Holodomor, a great documentary on this event is “Harvest of Despair” which can be viewed at Ukrainian Partisans fought both the Nazis and Russian communists during WWII, and continued to fight the Soviet Communists into the 1950s. There was even a few Ukrainian partisans still conducting sabotage on the soviets into the early 1960s (for more information on the Ukrainian partisans, refer to Firearms News articles The Ukrainian Insurgent Army, Part 1: The History (August 2021 #16), and The Ukrainian Insurgent Army, Part 2: Small Arms (August 2021 #17). After 1991, when the Soviet Union broke up, Ukraine had a couple of decades of getting used to being a nation again, but Kremlin-controlled politicians still were controlling and steering many parts of its government. In 2010, Putin’s “Plan A” to grab hold of Ukraine went into high gear with the “election” of Victor Yanukovych who was the “communist-lite” Party of Regions candidate who was backed with Kremlin funding. The Communist Party of Ukraine also backed Yanukovych. Yanukovych defeated pro-USA Victor Yuschenko who also survived a Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin poisoning attempt by Kremlin operatives in 2004, but was left disfigured because of it. As soon as Yanukovych took office, he canceled all military/defense industry cooperation efforts with the USA, he stopped all Ukrainian military modernization efforts, ordered that Ukrainian schoolbooks be alerted to give a favorable light toward Russian history, pushed to make the Russian language the official language alongside Ukrainian, and other “reforms”. What “broke the camel’s back” was his insistence to station Russian military on Ukrainian military bases for “cooperation”. Yanukovych was thrown out of office in 2014 and fled to Russia (big surprise).

So, it was time for Putin’s Plan B, which involved traitors still in Ukraine’s government, which was the takeover of Crimea whereby the Ukrainian military was stood down for the most part. During the fake “separatists’” takeover in the Donbass region, namely parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts (think of an oblast as a state or large county), millions of Ukrainians fled their homes there and headed west, the only ones to head east to join the “freedom fighters” were Ukrainian communists, as well as communists from South America, Italy, Spain, and even an American communist from Texas named Russel Bentley who likes to sport a cowboy hat with a red star in the middle of it. He even fundraises for communists and the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “Republics” which Putin just recognized as nations as well as promised to “protect” and support. Its “funny” (and sad) how many American alternative conservative news media outlets support these communists, as well as Putin’s Russia and his agenda, in their broadcasts and web news. The Kremlin offering RT News to the USA as a source of information certainly has gained an advantage for them. Russians are masters at propaganda.

Putin has now made his genocide speech this week whereby he stated that Ukraine has no reason to exist and that he is taking back at least the parts of Ukraine that the Soviets had (funny, how he only looks at history as far back as it suits him). This was no surprise as he stated that Ukraine wasn’t even a country in the past. As his speech revealed, he wants Ukraine. Period. He was never concerned that NATO or Europe would ever attack him, and that is why the negotiations went nowhere. Of course, if Europe was dumb enough to agree to give him the former Soviet-bloc countries he would have taken them as well. NATO meeting his demands to kick out any nation not in NATO during and after 1997 was also a nonstarter which he knew – all a distraction for Russia to study what the sanctions would be, where NATO would position itself, and what nations are not that committed to NATO.

And here we are, watching the might of the Russian military against Ukraine, yet again. An invasion where citizens will be killed, robbed, raped, placed in camps, and robbed of all human freedom and dignity. Before we look at what the Ukrainian president is and is not doing in regard to preserving Ukrainian lives, let’s first look at Ukrainian gun ownership.

Ukrainian Gun Ownership

President Zelenskyy: Open Up Ukrainian Gun Ownership!
Two employees of the IBIS gun store chain manning their booth at the Arms and Safety Exhibition on June 15, 2021 held in Kyiv, Ukraine (Shutterstock photo by Krysja)

Basically, the way it’s been for decades, in order for a Ukrainian to purchase a firearm, one must be 21 years of age for any smoothbore longarm and these would be shotguns. To own a rifle, one must 25 years of age, and 18 years old to own air guns. There is a background check which includes mental exam, a fee for the gun license, a requirement for a gun safe as well as a permit showing that the safe is approved and installed. This process can take 30 days but it has sometimes it takes several months. Ukrainians cannot own handguns which fire real bullets. There are handguns which are in “odd” calibers that do fire standard handgun ammunition. These less-than-lethal handguns fire cartridges which consist of brass shells, primers and powder, like any conventional ammunition, except that the projectile can only be made of hard rubber.

The good thing is that Ukrainians can own almost any modern sporting rifle (MSR) which are semi-automatic military-styled rifles. The only feature restrictions are that if the rifle comes with a folding stock, it cannot fire with the stock folded (sort of mirrors handguns being outlawed), and if the rifle is a pistol-caliber carbine (PCC), it cannot fire regular 9mm which is 9x19mm so these are chambered in 9x21mm which is ballistically almost identical (Italy has a similar law). There are also no restrictions on magazine capacity. That is the good news as if one is going to fight for their country, an MSR with “high-capacity” magazines would be exactly what you would want. Ukrainians can also own any rifle up to and including .50BMG and any rifle in a sniper configuration. Regarding MSRs, Ukrainians have more firearms freedoms than citizens of California, Massachusetts, and New York, if you consider magazine capacity, they have more freedom than at least 10 states. Ukrainians have access to AR-15-type rifles from dozens of U.S. manufacturers, as well a Ukrainian-owned company called Zbroyar which manufactures semi-auto AR-15- and AR-10-type rifles, and bolt actions. Ukrainians can also buy semi-auto AK-type rifles manufactured by the Ukrainian defense firm Fort, along with MSRs such as AUGs, HK93-type rifles, HK94-type rifles, Kriss rifles, KelTec rifles, Tavors, and many others. Typical cost for a Chinese copy M4 is about $950, and American-made M4-type rifles start at around $1,200. A Fort AK is about $850. An SKS runs about $450. Ukrainians can also buy suppressors/silencers and have more freedom in this area than Americans. Night vision and thermal scopes are also legal.

President Zelenskyy: Open Up Ukrainian Gun Ownership!
A girl shoulders a Kriss carbine at the Arms and Safety Exhibition held in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Shutterstock photo by Krysja)

Where dozens of news outlets get the story wrong about Ukrainian gun ownership has to do with the word “hunting”. Ukraine allows its citizens to own “hunting weapons” so when news agencies covered this topic, they gave the idea that Ukrainians can only own duck hunting shotguns and deer rifles. Ukraine’s government uses the word “hunting” in the same legal way our BATFE uses the word “sporting”. All MSRs are considered to be hunting firearms in Ukraine.

So why don’t Ukrainians run out and buy AR-15s and AKs? They have, some of them. The average Ukrainian only makes around $400USD per month, and when you factor in the cost of the license, cost of the safe, cost of the gun, most just simply can’t afford one. In browsing Ukrainian gun store websites, inventory is the lowest it has ever seen which is very understandable. Ammunition is in very short supply – at gun stores that is.

Ukraine’s’ Huge Stockpile of Surplus Firearms and Ammunition

Ukraine has a huge stockpile of rifles, machineguns, handguns, ammunition, as well as other small arms and crew-served weapons in warehouses. When President Barak Obama was a senator, he and Senator Dick Luger traveled to Ukraine to persuade Ukrainians to give up its surplus stockpiles in exchange for assistance, stockpiles which would come in handy during invasion. (One can only wonder what Obama meant, when in 2012, a hot microphone recorded him telling Russian President Medvedev: “After my election, I will have more flexibility.”) Ukraine destroyed some of their surplus but there are tons. Even early 20th Century DP-28 and Maxim machine guns were deployed in 2014 from this surplus, and some remain on the front lines today as they are still effective weapons. Since President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had been saying that there will be no invasion for weeks, are we to assume that all of these weapons will be captured by the Russian military instead in the hands of Ukrainians who do not wish to be slaughtered by Putin’s army?

Ukraine’s Preparedness and Civil Defense

Recently, Ukraine approved the Territorial Defense (TD) units which are a Home Guard. Any citizen, or foreigner with five years of residency, can join and training takes place on weekends. Many television reports have shown Ukrainians training with wooden guns as well as airsoft guns and some viewers have gotten the idea that Ukraine would actually send citizens into battle with wooden guns, or that they are short on rifles. The fact is that the Ukrainian Army is training citizens in urban areas on tactics, urban warfare, etc. so there is no need to have a real guns in those areas for this training. Although some training has been done inside of buildings with real firearms. Territorial Defense troops also train at shooting ranges with live weapons. One TV report did show a TD troop explaining that the government gave him a machinegun to take home with him, and this appears to be true. They have to store them in a safe as any other privately-owned firearm. However, just last week, Zelenskyy also criticized the fact that the Territorial Forces were made up with mostly civilians and not “professionals”, something former Ukrainian President Poroshenko criticized him about. Although, Poroshenko ignored efforts by the Ukrainian Gun Owners Association to expand gun rights when he was at the helm.


President Zelenskyy has finally activated not only the Ukrainian military and reserves but also the Territorial Defense yesterday. There has been talk about allowing dual citizenship for Ukrainian Americans or Americans who married Ukrainians but that has been stalled for years. Many Americans who live in Ukraine full time have expressed the need to buy a firearm to defend their Ukrainian families and themselves but cannot since they lack Ukrainian citizenship.

As far as civil defense, the Ukrainian government has waited until the last minute and just started providing maps to cold war bomb shelters a few weeks ago. One Ukrainian YouTuber, named Olga Reznikova, recently posted a video of the basement-level parking garage in her apartment building that authorities informed her would be shelter in case of bombing. Where are the restroom facilities? Where is the food storage? Where are the cots? One has to wonder how a sweet girl in her late 20s (or early 30s) and her beautiful little girl would survive in those conditions. Well, Olga decided to move to her home in the country in western Ukraine and instead of relying on the Ukrainian government’s civil defense luxuries. This is a sharp turn as only a few weeks ago she made two videos at a beautiful Ukrainian shopping mall (which would rival any mall in the USA) and spoke about how there was no need to panic, and no need to worry about anything – a mood set by Zelenskyy’s administration. Well, the USA doesn’t have much room to talk since Democrat President Jimmy Carter scuttled the Office of Civil Defense in the late 1970s to appease Russia and the Peaceniks. If it weren’t for the preppers and survivalists in the U.S., civil defense would be a big zero. But, back to Ukraine.

President Zelenskyy, Where Are You?

So, where is Zelenskyy on Ukrainian Gun Ownership? It is safe to say that he is the same camp as anti-gun ownership democrats Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and the like. When the Ukrainian Gun Owners Association tried to open up gun ownership last year, Zelenskyy voiced his opposition stating that he did not support the petition, which gathered over 25,000 “signatures” on his official website, to reduce restrictions on civilian gun ownership. His reason was that this legislation was “premature” due to the socio-economics condition of Ukraine and because of the war in eastern Ukraine. Unreal. It’s almost like Zelenskyy got this talking point from some leftist anti-gun ownership group in the U.S. There was legislation voted on today regarding gun ownership, but it appears to make a national registry (something Putin’s Green Men would find very helpful), and also it does not appear that handguns were legalized in any way outside of civilian VIPs and government officials – they would be in the minority when urban warfare with Russia begins and the internment camps are set up.

It will not be easy for Russians, especially in the woods, mountains, and cities. Urban warfare has been described as the deadliest and most difficult types of combat by those who have engaged in it. Ukrainians hate any Russians who would want to invade and persecute them (again). There are about 43 million Ukrainians who love their homeland and Ukraine is larger than France, it’s the second largest country in Europe just behind Russia. Russia is the strongest it has ever been and is out to destroy Ukraine, its culture, its heritage, its language, its history its ethnicity. Even Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, just stated that he would like to see firearms ownership expanded, but how exactly is not clear. If there was ever a time passing out the MILLIONS of surplus weapons collecting dust in warehouses its now.

Will this Russian invasion become a second Holodomor, not because of lack of food, but because of lack of civilian-owned firearms? Let’s hope not. But if it does, Zelenskyy would be one guy to point the finger at.

To let President Volodymyr Zelenskyy know how you feel on this critical issue, you can relay your thoughts via his website: Just don’t wait too long to do it (and be polite).

Слава Україні! Героям слава!, Slava Ukraini! Heroiam slava!; Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!"


UPDATE 3/7/22

Since this article was published online, Russia declared war on Ukraine and attacked. Shortly thereafter, President Zelenskyy promised that every citizen willing to have a gun would have one, and over 25,000 AK-type rifles, RPKs, etc. have been distributed around Kyiv. However, the issue is that Ukrainians only get a weapon IF they register as a member of the Territorial Defense Forces. Each member must show a passport and/or other ID and the gun is registered to them, but they are the considered as a part of the military – no expansion of gun ownership has taken place other than some easing of firearms transport laws in February. In addition, Firearms News has contacts within the Ukrainian government and military and there have been no reports of widespread distribution of the massive amounts of surplus firearms, held in warehouses, to most of the population in other areas of Ukraine. This is concerning since the Territorial Defense is now reporting a shortage of weapons. As of this date, there have been no emergency changes to loosen Ukrainian gun regulations regarding private ownership.

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