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Handguns offered to legalize to protect people from criminals

July 25, 2012, 16:33 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

The initiative of a Russian senator, who offered to give an opportunity to Russian citizens to protect their life and the life of their relatives by pistols and revolvers, evoked an ambiguous response in the society. The opponents of the initiative warn that the country is not ready for “the total armament” of people. For instance, authorized traumatic pistols are constantly used in criminal ends. Some accuse the authors of the initiative of protecting the interests of the lobby for the use of weapons.

On Tuesday, Vice-Speaker of the Federation Council Alexander Torshin has put forward an initiative to hold a referendum over the legalization of short-barrelled rifled weapons. He has made a statement to this effect at a presentation of the export report devoted to a reform of the Russian weapon-related legislation.

The senator suggested permitting people to use pistols and revolvers for self-defence, because Russia faces a high crime rate and the law enforcement agencies cannot protect people. The report noted that the number of murders was twice lower in the Russian Empire in 1902-1914 than in the later years in the Soviet Union. The senator cited the statistical reports, according to which the gun owners are among the most law-abiding citizens.

Each citizen, who turned 23 years and who passed the military service in the army or the special training to handle the short-barrelled arms, should have the right to possess a short-barrelled weapon, Torshin noted. “If a person does not suffer from mental disorders, he is neither an alcohol addict nor a drug addict he should be provided with an opportunity to protect himself. Those, who have evil intents, solved this problem long ago,” Torshin said with confidence.

One of the main arguments of the supporters for the legalization of handguns is the economic one. The authors of the report estimated the price of a Russia-made pistol at about 9,000 roubles, while the potential number of its buyers may reach 10.7 million people for the first five years after the enactment of the relevant law. Torshin’s advocates estimated that the legalized trade of short-barrelled guns can bring from 700 million roubles to one trillion roubles to the Russian GDP for five years thanks to a higher output of the production of weapons and cartridges.

Torshin’s move raised heated debates in the society. Even the United Russia Party, in which the politician is a member, does not have a common position on this issue. “If the decision of the lawmaker can provoke even one death, it is needed to think it over thousand times whether it should be taken,” the Kommersant daily quoted Chairperson of the State Duma Security Committee Irina Yarovaya as saying. “Unfortunately, Torshin’s initiative sooner has the chances for irreversible consequences rather than the protection or salvation of people,” she noted.

“We should not do it at all. A third of those, who are imprisoned in our country, are convicted for household crimes. This is just a fistfight or a knife fight, but just imagine what it would be with firearms,” Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Criminal Legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov agreed with her.

The Russian Public Chamber opposed strongly the idea for the legalization of short-barrelled weapons. Member of the Public Chamber, lawyer Anatoly Kucherena recalled about an outrage, which occurred in Denver, the United States, when a 24-year-old offender opened fire at spectators in a movie theatre, killing 12 people. “In view of horrible events, which occurred in the United States, I believe that it is thoughtless and unjustified to make such statements,” he stated.

Managing partner of the law office “Leontyev and Partners” Vyacheslav Leontyev, who is cited by the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily, believes that if the sale of pistols is permitted with the current legal system, this will result in the growth of violent crimes with their use. Moreover, the term of justifiable defence is so vague in the legislation that even several criminal cases were opened against persons, who killed the robbers attacking the latter in their own houses.

Vice-President of the International Association of Veterans of the special task force Alfa Alexei Filatov told the Novye Izvestia daily that economic grounds for this law mostly sound like the protection of the interests of the lobby for the use of weapons. “We have been fighting with the lobbyists already for two years and hope that this initiative will not find any support among the lawmakers again. I believe that in case of enacting this law the turnover of guns will reach 30-40 million pieces that will entail tragic consequences,” he pointed out.

Russia already has a negative experience of the authorization of traumatic pistols, veteran of the security services Filatov remarked. “As a result we have thousands of wounded people every year, but luckily only few killed people. Just it is really quite hard to kill with this gun. There will be nine out of ten lethal cases with the use of firearms. I believe that our fellow countrymen will settle household conflicts with the use of guns instead of getting down to talks,” Filatov underlined.

For the last five years 65 people were killed and about 470 people were injured from traumatic pistols in Russia, deputy head of the public order department of the Russian Interior Ministry Leonid Vedenov said back in February 2010. “Since 2005 up to now over 2,000 crimes were committed with the use of traumatic pistols. Some 468 people sustained various damages to the health and 65 people died as a result of these crimes,” the police high-ranking official said.

For more than two years since then the number of victims from traumatic pistols grew sharply. The media report about more victims from the traumatic guns every month.

In 2008 the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) conducted a sociological survey over the idea for the free sale of firearms. Then three fourths of respondents (74%) stated that they come out against this initiative and 14% of pollsters approved it.

MOSCOW, July 25