The II Congress of the movement of The Right to Arms was held on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 2013. IAPCAR Directors Julianne Versnel and Alan Gottlieb attended and addressed the conference. Also in attendance was Gary Burris, President of U.S. IAPCAR affiliate group LSSA. Representatives of various regions of Russia, political parties, countries, associations, and public officials, met to discuss issues of international cooperation, the development of weapons of culture and improvement of state regulation in the field of weapons legislation.
Russian Gun Rights Congress
By Gary Burris, LSSA President
The Lone Star Shooting Association (LSSA) was invited to speak at the All-Russian Gun Rights Congress held in Moscow, Russia, on 31 October 2013. Chairman of that organization, Maria Butina, invited a number of the members of the International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR) to the meeting. Our good friends Alan Gottlieb and Julianne Versnel were there representing the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) as well as IAPCAR.
Maria asked me to address the Gun Rights Congress on a series of questions regarding American citizens’ gun rights.
Here in the USA we have to constantly be on guard to protect our gun rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to our Constitution. In my opinion there are three main groups of people who are a threat to our human right of self-preservation and self-defense.
First there is the ignorant group. I believe this to be the largest group and perhaps the easiest to deal with. The people in this group are for the most part well intentioned. They are under the false assumption that if you had laws restricting the use of firearms by law-abiding citizens then violent crimes involving firearms will stop. Logic and statistics will go a long way in correcting this misconception, after all criminals do not obey laws by definition. So, part of the mission of LSSA is to inform the public and educate them in the use of firearms for recreational and self-defense purposes.
The second group is just plain stupid. I once had a boss who told me that you could fix ignorance with education but that you cannot fix stupid. This group is the most dangerous when it comes to attacking our human right to self-preservation. Typically members of this group are liberal politicians who feel the need to impose their will on the people. And of course they have a large following of stupid people. Even when the majority of citizens who elected them to office are in favor of gun rights, they (being elite and knowing what is best for the masses) will endeavor to remove the citizens’ rights and freedoms “for their own good.” The conclusion is that it is a waste of time to try to deal with this group.
The last group is apathetic. They seem to live in their own world and cannot be bothered with what they consider to be mundane issues that don’t involve them. Often they realize too late that they have lost a freedom by doing nothing. This group is recognizable by their absence from the voting booth. Members of this group are typically young and more concerned about their social media tweet or Facebook image than they are about their right to bear arms. The LSSA youth training program is trying to address this issue.
Now we come to the issues facing Russian citizens. Maria and her organization are doing a great job in their fight for gun rights. This is the current situation for gun owners in Russia:
- Citizens can own and carry pistols that shoot rubber bullets with up to 91 Joules of energy (non-lethal) but must have permission from the police to carry concealed.
- Citizens cannot own pistols or revolvers and keep them at home nor can they carry them if they shoot real bullets.
- Citizens can own and keep at home long guns for self-defense. This includes shotguns, rifles, teargas, non-lethal and air-soft.
- No specific caliber restrictions but magazine capacity is restricted to 10.
- A Russian citizen must own a smooth bore long gun for a minimum of 5 years without having any legal issues before he is able to purchase a rifled firearm.
The purchase of firearms by Russian civilians is regulated by a 1996 law “On Weapons.” This law is vague and gaps in the law are covered by orders of the Minister of Interior and government regulations. This creates a bureaucracy of red tape and forms the civilian must navigate in order to purchase a firearm.
Unlike here in the USA where the media is anti-gun for the most part, Russians are fortunate in that the media seems to be neutral on the issue of ownership of firearms by civilians. Russian media appears to be more representative of the citizens and are therefore eager to learn about the ownership and use of firearms.
It is illegal to advertize firearms in Russia so you will not find a sales brochure insert in your local paper nor will you see anything on TV related to the purchase of firearms. For this reason a large portion of the public is unaware of laws and their rights to own a firearm. And as usual if people are uninformed about their rights to self-defense they tend to oppose ownership of firearms.
So what is the path forward for Russian citizens and what can others do to help them in their quest for the freedom of self-defense? Obviously, Maria and her organization must continue with their efforts. Several powerful Russian politicians were in attendance at the Gun Rights Congress and support Maria’s work. This is a great step in the right direction because gun rights are clearly political issues around the world. Recognizing that self-preservation is a human right is the first step in securing the right of self-defense.
I noted that there have been some IPSC and IDPA matches in Russia. IPSC tends to be run and gun where IDPA is more practical. LSSA is a combination of the two with fewer rules, easier scoring system and a lot of fun. I would like to see shooting clubs in Russia start holding LSSA 3-gun matches. Take the example of Italy that held over 50 LSSA matches last year. Some were shotgun or rifle only and others were a combination of the two. In the coming year they will hold pistol only and a combination of all three types of guns in the same match. LSSA even has a set of rules for air-soft matches. Rules are very simple and membership is only 5 Euros per year. Additionally, LSSA was able to prevent the Italian bill 29/2012 from becoming law that would have restricted ownership of military look alike firearms, i.e. the AR-15. Because we used these firearms in shooting competitions we were able to show that they are used for sporting activities and should not therefore be restricted. The proposed law was withdrawn from consideration by the Italian authorities.
The International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (http://iapcar.org/) is the only worldwide political action group focusing on the human right to keep and bear arms. Founded in 2010, IAPCAR has grown to 25 major gun-rights organizations and conducts operations designed to inform the public and promote the right of self-defense and gun-ownership.
Alan Gottlieb, SAF, CCRKBA, IAPCAR
Julianne Versnel, SAF, IAPCAR
Gary Burris, LSSA
Alexander Torshin, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council