April 25, 2022
“Terrorist fighters [Ukrainian Territorial Defense fighting terrorists/Russians] in the liberated territories must hand in their weapons,” Ukrainian digital broadcaster Hromadske reported Thursday. Citing a Ministry of Defense post on the Telegram messaging app, the order comes from Troop Forces commander, General Yuri Galushkin.
“Some of our regions have been liberated from the occupiers and there is no fighting. In these areas, we need to perform tasks related to the reconstruction of our cities and villages, restore the economy, return to work,” Galushkin claimed (converted to English via Google Translate). “That is why in these regions it is time to concentrate weapons in certain storage areas. You will take care of her [weapon], take her for training and, if necessary, get her to complete tasks. We will keep the gunpowder dry. Proper storage of weapons is very important so that at a critical moment it can be quickly used and used against our enemy - the Russian troops.” Note that over 18,000 military weapons were “passed out” to new members of the Territorial Defense in just Kyiv alone by March 11.
Just last month and to the north, the Lithuanian Parliament voted (119 for, none against with five abstentions) to allow all members of the civilian paramilitary organization, the Rifleman’s Union, to keep their government-issued select-fire G36 rifles (machine guns) at home.
In order to verify the announcement, Firearms News reached out to a Ukrainian government contact within the military, this was the response: “Hi! Yes, it is true.. He was talking about Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Chernigiv, and Sumi regions. He said soldiers from territorial defense units and members of volunteer formations of territorial communities from mentioned above regions must keep weapons in the arms room.”
The disarming of citizen soldier volunteers (especially when a war is still in full swing) is a good indicator that if and when the situation in Ukraine “normalizes,” the plan is to return to restrictive gun laws Firearms News was decrying before the Russian invasion when it urged President Zelnskyy to “Open up Ukrainian gun ownership” (see FirearmsNews.com/editorial/president-zelenskyy-ukrainian-gun-ownership/458322). Part of the reason he may have become the darling of the U.S. left is because before full blown hostilities opened up, he was in “the same camp as anti-gun ownership Democrats Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and the like” regarding expanding gun rights as noted in the February article.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Ukrainians can own military-styled semi-auto rifles and any capacity magazine along with any manual-action rifles and shotguns (all longuns are classified as “Hunting Weapons”). Handguns are illegal.]
But Didn’t Zelenskyy ‘Give’ Ukraine a 2nd Amendment?
The answer is he did not. A law was passed by the Rada (Parliament) early this year that lifted firearms transport laws for Ukrainian gun owners but only if they were actively defending themselves from an invasion. Regarding this law, the UGOA states the following:
“The law obliges civilians to hand over their firearms and unused ammunition to the National Police of Ukraine no later than 10 days after the cessation or termination of martial law in Ukraine. Civilians shall be held criminally liable for violating the requirements of this article.”
In addition, the law refers to the use of weapons exclusively against the occupiers. In all other cases, the use of weapons for looting, provides for increased liability under the martial law.
Civilians are using weapons obtained in a lawful manner. The military and law enforcement agencies strictly forbid collecting any weapons on the battlefield, regardless of whether they are Russian or Ukrainian.
The law does not apply to active servicemen and persons subject to mobilization. They receive weapons according to another law.”
When the political establishment saw their own necks were on the line, suddenly “reforms” the Ukrainian Gun Owners Association (UGOA) had been petitioning for looked like they had been transmuted from “premature” to “Come and get ‘em,” meaning real “weapons of war.” It turns out after all that a militia of the whole people is “necessary to the security of a free state.”
As UGOA founder Georgiy Uchaykin stated soon after the invasion, “I warned that automatic rifles to defend the country would be handed from trucks.” Uchaykin was referring to his prediction, years ago, that if Ukrainian gun laws were not deregulated so that the process would be rid of red tape, months of paperwork, and include ownership of handguns, then a desperate Ukraine would have no choice but to hurriedly train citizens and pass out weapons during the eventual Russian invasion, whereas a nation where gun ownership is not hindered but encouraged would always have a trained populace for such an event.
On April 24, Uchaykin remarked “Ukrainians saw what it was like to remain unarmed under the enemy,” via the OGOA website. Indeed. The number of rapes and executions perpetrated by invading Russian soldiers is absolutely staggering. In February, just a week before the invasion when the US government was warning that Russia was about to invade, Zelenskyy denied the reports and instead of arming Ukrainians to defend their lives with rifles and military weapons, he was organizing parades with flags and banners. Due the fact that Zelenskyy was critical of ordinary citizens joining the Territorial Defense and his opposition to loosen gun laws in 2021, Firearms News asked a question in the article urging Zelenskyy to “open up gun ownership”: “Will this Russian invasion become a second Holodomor [when Stalin and Russians murdered between 7 – 12 million Ukrainians], 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.” Certainly, millions of Ukrainians have not been killed at this point, but many thousands have been executed and placed in mass graves so far. Countless deaths could have been prevented if Ukrainian citizens were armed like citizens are armed in the USA.
So, what’s with Zelenkyy’s Stated Desire to Have Armed Populated Areas in Ukraine’s Future?
“We cannot talk about 'Switzerland of the future' — probably, our state will be able to be like this a long time after," Zelensky predicted in an article in The Jerusalem Post. "But we will definitely become a 'big Israel' with its own face."
It probably won’t become that, either. While Prime Minister Naftali Bennett recently made headlines following a terror attack by announcing “soldiers with elementary combat training will take their weapons home with them on weekends” and declaring citizens should "Be alert. Whoever has a weapons license, this is the time to carry it," we can’t forget that Israel imposes strict “gun control,” including licensing (where 40% of applicants are rejected, restrictions on how many guns civilians can own (one), ammunition limits (50 rounds), and licensing limitations (such as hunting), and “justified need to carry.”
With handgun and carry bans, Ukraine will be even more restrictive.
"We will not be surprised that we will have representatives of the Armed Forces or the National Guard in all institutions, supermarkets, cinemas, there will be people with weapons,” Zelenskyy foresees. Just not “ordinary” people, based on the return to “existing gun laws.”
And that’s not to say that the Swiss provide the optimal model, as Firearms News noted. While a referendum to prohibit Swiss militiamen to keep their service weapons at home was rejected in 2011, per USA Today, Swiss voters in 2019 a 2019 measure, “more than 63% of voters nationwide agreed to align with European Union firearms rules adopted two years ago after deadly attacks in France, Belgium, Germany and Britain.”
Zelenskyy is eager for Ukraine to join the European Union; it doesn’t look like he will bat an eye regarding conforming to Brussels’ demands on restricted gun ownership which comes with membership.
Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
The biggest case for the Second Amendment was unfolding before the world’s eyes in Ukraine as pointed out in this Firearms News article (linked here: FirearmsNews.com/editorial/biggest-case-for-2a/45842) and all the gun prohibitionists could do was ignore it, change the subject to “ghost guns” and “boyfriend loopholes,” or at most offer the lame misdirection that desperate times call for desperate measures. Lost on all of them was the observable truth articulated by Thomas Paine that “Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property...”
That is, the deterrent effect of a perpetually armed and trained populace completely escaped them, and appears to be escaping Ukraine’s elites who, rather than capitalize on what they started and letting it develop into a secure society no one in their right mind would try to invade, seem determined to revert to their old ways.
True, but the government passed out the arms. Why shouldn’t they reclaim them? After all, even in the U.S., we don’t see soldiers walking around armed on military bases.
Several high-profile incidents involving violent, fanatical lunatics taking advantage of such “gun-free zones” (Saudi Air Force officer Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani shooting up Pensacola Naval Air Station and Major Nidal Hassan going on a mass killing rampage at Fort Hood come immediately to mind) make it fair to question the wisdom of armed forces disarmament. In fact, then presidential candidate Donald Trump made the campaign promise that he “would mandate that soldiers remain armed and on alert at our military bases,” (a pledge somehow forgotten when he became Commander in Chief).
In Ukraine’s case (in all cases, actually) what the government giveth, the government taketh away. That’s why, unless it’s treated as a right to arms, it’s treated as a privilege, with promulgators of government supremacy considering all rights to be what they will allow, as opposed to preexisting, God-given and inherent to being human.
But even the Constitution delegates to Congress the power “to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia.” Their stuff, their rules, right?
The Militia Act of 1792 noted citizens were expected to show up with their own weapons and accouterments “when called out to exercise or into service.” As an aside, the specificity of what they were required to bring (“a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges...”) have led some “Second Amendment scholars” to conclude this means mandatory gun registration would be Constitutional. What they fail to take into account is that’s only for what they bring to muster—there was no requirement to account for what was not brought.
The problem with Ukraine in this regard is the restrictions on keeping and bearing arms not supplied by or authorized by the government. Compare this to what the Founders of this country ad to draw on, statutes from various colonies like Plymouth Virginia, Maryland and others requiring citizens to be armed when away from home, or at church. Case in point, per legal scholar Stephen P. Halbrook’s The Right to Bear Arms, “A 1639 Rhode Island act ordered “that no man shall go two miles from the town unarmed, either with gunn or sword; and that no one shall come to any public meeting without his weapon.”
That’s a pretty good benchmark for how far the U.S. has strayed, too.
It will be argued that Ukrainian volunteers are not professional soldiers, and while that’s true, also recall that a standing army was not something the Founders considered inimical to Liberty (hence the continual appropriations process hardwired into the Constitution). One of the Founders who recognized the disparity in skill sets was Alexander Hamilton, who admitted as much in Federalist No. 29, including what a pain it would be to impose required disciplines on people who had farms to tend and trades to ply...
“To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss,” he wrote.
Well, there you have it. Doesn’t that make Gen. Galushkin’s case for him?
Not at all. Because you have to read how Hamilton completed that thought:
“Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year,” he reasoned, knowing full well those arms remained in the hands of the people and not in a government-controlled storehouse.
How do we know?
“[B]ut if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.''
“[T]he Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense,” the Supreme Court noted in United States v. Miller. “And further, that ordinarily, when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.”
True, towns kept some military supplies in stores, but when British troops marched to remove them from Concord, they were met by already armed Continentals in Lexington. The whole concept of “Minutemen” presupposed Patriots could rush from their homes to where needed when needed.
Shame on you, Gen. Galushkin. Shame on you, President Zelenskyy.
About the Author: David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. In addition to being a regular featured contributor for Firearms News he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.