Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Gun Trade World Article: Arms Trade Treaty Under Scrutiny

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Feature story in November 2013 print edition of Gun Trade World.

Available online linked here.


Monday, November 11th, 2013

The International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR) announced today that civilian arms rights groups in the Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus have joined the international coalition of 28 associations in 20 countries dedicated to the preservation and defense of civilian firearms rights.

After meeting in Moscow for the second Right to Arms Congress the Ukrainian Gun Owners Association, Moldova’s Practical Shooting Association, and the Association of Practical Shooting in Belarus agreed join the growing coalition of civilian arms rights organizations.

“The global coalition of like-minded civilian arms rights groups is unified with greater strength in Europe now more than ever before,” IAPCAR’s Executive Director Philip Watson said. “I think most people agree with the right of self-defense, that’s why our coalition just continues to grow.”

The three groups will expand the European membership of IAPCAR to ten groups from ten different EU and non-EU countries.

IAPCAR directors Julianne Versnel and Alan Gottlieb attended and addressed the two day Right to Arms Congress in Moscow Russia held on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. The conference was hosted by Russia’s IAPCAR affiliate Right to Arms, and featured pro civilian arms rights speakers and exhibitions from Russia and around the world.

A representative to the U.N., Versnel, who is also the Second Amendment Foundation’s Director of Operations, submitted testimony to the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) meeting in March objecting to the exclusion of civilian arms rights from the ATT. “Nothing that is in an Arms Trade Treaty should affect a woman’s right to defend herself,” Versnel told the delegates.

The IAPCAR civilian arms rights coalition is focused on opposition to the ATT, which has passed the U.N. General Assembly and was made available for countries to sign on June 3. The ATT does not acknowledge or protect civilian arms rights or recognize the right to self-defense in its enforceable language.

The International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights ( is the only worldwide political action group focusing on the human right to keep and bear arms. Founded in 2010, IAPCAR has grown to 28 major gun-rights organizations in 20 countries and conducts campaigns designed to inform the public and promote the right of self-defense and gun-ownership.

Russian Gun Rights Congress

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

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.

Articles and pictures on the conference also available from the IAPCAR affiliate Right to Arms here and here.

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.Right to Arms

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 ( 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.

Main Conference

Alan Gottlieb, SAF, CCRKBA, IAPCAR

Julianne Versnel, SAF, IAPCAR

Gary Burris, LSSA

Alexander Torshin, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council

IAPCAR Directors to speak at conference on international experience in the area of regulation of civilian weapons and justified self-defense

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

31 October – 1 November, 2013

Location: event-hall «InfoSpace»

Moscow, 1 Zachatievskiy lane 4

Metro Kropotkinskaya, Park Kultury


Russia develops its own DARPA for advancing military hardware

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Original Story Via:

by Bob Lesmeister

National Correspondent

In the old days, it might have meant a one-way trip to Siberia for a team of engineers. Luckily, there have been some positive changes in Russia since the Soviet Union government collapsed. For example, as reported by the Russian news agency Interfax, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, while touring TsNIITochMash, was shown an upgraded Kalashnikov military rifle. He praised its comfortable butt stock but was not amused to find that this wonderful stock was marked “Made in Israel.”

He exclaimed, “We can make them too!” The Russian deputy prime minister overseeing the defense industry, Dmitriy Rogozin, assured him that yes they can.

“I should hope so,” grumbled Medvedev.

TsNIITochMash stands for the Central Research Institute for Precision Machine Building, a Russian industrial design bureau. TsNIITochMash is a major designer and producer of weapons for the Russian military and MVD Internal Troops. Medvedev warned that Russian arms manufacturers risk falling behind foreign competition for both military and commercial firearms and equipment. TsNIITochMash develops most cartridges, from small arms up to the 14.5 x 114 mm, a large anti-personnel/sniper round most recently integrated in Iran’s first homemade sniper rifle, the Shaher (See related TGM story.)

TsNIITochMash also develops small arms and simulators and individual field equipment for the Russian military and conducts R&D on control systems for precision-guided munitions and field artillery systems. It is also responsible for developing new materials as well.

It seems Medvedev’s major complaint is that Russian arms producers have been too inclined to rest on their laurels. “In our country, some of our well-known defense-industry enterprises, even those that have a good international reputation, sometimes reason that what we invented back in nineteen-God-knows-when is the best thing produced anywhere in the world. We cannot see anything else; we do not want to read anything else, so ours are the best arms in the world.”

Medvedev reasons that if the Russian engineers cannot invent anything new, then they will not be producing the best arms in the world. “So, one should encourage research,” he pleads. “It is a good thing that there are many doctors and candidates of science among the workforce. The main thing, however, is not even the number of people with degrees but new products.”

In order to fix the problem, Russia is developing a counterpart to America’s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the agency tasked with the job of developing new materials and weapon systems. They say what goes around comes around and it couldn’t be truer in this case. Actually DARPA was established in 1958 to prevent technological surprises like the launch of Sputnik, which caught the US napping and allowed the Soviets to beat the US into space. Now, Russia is establishing its own DARPA in order to keep up with the US and other countries’ rapidly developing offense and defense systems.

In an interview on Sept. 26 with the Moscow Rossiyskaya Gazeta Online, Dmitriy Rogozin, deputy Russian Federation Government chairman and chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission, stated that Russia would have its own version of DARPA by the end of 2012. Declared Rogozin, “We have had and continue to have pilot projects in which we are not only at the level of, but also ahead of, all the rest.” He also laid a hint of things to come. “There are things to be proud of here also. It is commonly acknowledged that the air defenses of the Ground Troops are probably among (the) world’s best in terms of equipment and organization. The prototype of the fifth-generation fighter is being tested.”

According to Rogozin, Russian troops won’t be covering any new territory or leading expeditions. “What do the Americans do? They land Marines at the other end of the world not because they are big bullies and brawlers, not to accomplish some humanitarian objectives but always and only to secure their economic interests. We have no military-expedition plans in remote parts of the world. Russia is itself a whole world with a gifted, but not always harmonious and organized, people and vast reserves of land, forest, fresh water, and minerals. We have seas and oceans around us. This is all ours and we need to be able to defend it.”

Versatility could be for what the new Russian DARPA will strive. For example, according to Rogozin, the small arms producing plant Izhmash, where most of the Kalashnikov rifles are made, can also be used to produce aircraft carriers. “Few know that the possibility of manufacturing entirely different products, not assault rifles and machineguns at all, was embedded in the design and construction of this giant plant,” he revealed. “We will hardly be needing Maxim guns,” Rogozin told Rossiyskaya Gazeta Online. “We should not be reserving shops and locking them up but insuring that the lathes and transfer machinery operating on one or two shifts can, if necessary, operate without loss of quality on three shifts.”

Getting Russia’s DARPA program off the ground will cost about 20 trillion rubles ($641,419,000). “This money will pass through production and science, in any event: for the payment of research and experimental design and the purchase of the arms themselves,” said Rogozin.

While the US outsources jobs at an alarming rate and shrinks its military capabilities under President Obama, Russia’s Putin is transferring military technology to commercial technology, to boost defense spending and to create new high-skill jobs. According to Rogozin, this is Putin’s objective. The defense industry should be a catalyst for the country’s new industrialization.

If Russia’s DARPA program continues to strengthen while ours weakens, you can expect more Sputnik surprises in the future.

UN hits and misses between the illegal arms trade and the right to bear arms

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Original Story Via:  Russian Legal Information Agency

MOSCOW, August 30 – RAPSI, Ingrid Burke. The United Nations is currently hosting its second conference in as many months aimed at regulating illicit arms trafficking. July’s conference strived, albeit unsuccessfully, to reach consensus on a binding international treaty that would regulate the global arms trade as a whole. The conference currently underway aims only to review the progress made by UN member nations individually and the international community as a whole in terms of the implementation of an action plan adopted by consensus in 2001 in order to combat the illegal trade of small arms and light weapons.

Both conferences centered on documents- the first a working document that never earned its wings and the second a binding agreement. Both documents are rooted in concern over the illicit arms trade, but one reached consensus and has entered into force on national, regional, and global levels, and one provoked a heated public controversy that endured beyond the deadline for approval by consensus.

To get into the spirit of things, RAPSI has decided to compare and contrast the documents underlying and the controversies surrounding the two initiatives in an effort to better understand what caused the former to sink and the latter to swim.

The UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

Between 2-27 July, representatives of all 193 member nations gathered at the UN headquarters in New York with the common goal of establishing: “a robust and legally binding arms trade treaty that will have a real impact on the lives of those millions of people suffering from the consequences of armed conflict, repression and armed violence,” in the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Negotiations deteriorated in the last few days of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) conference as competing national interests gave way to stubborn resistance.

A draft of the treaty released shortly before the conference deadline was harshly criticized both by right-to-bear-arms activists and by their human rights/disarmament counterparts. The former took issue with what they perceived to be an overly broad range of arms and activities sought to be regulated. The latter took issue with what they perceived to be an insufficiently comprehensive document that left numerous gaping loopholes.

The document included among the list of arms sought to be regulated: battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons. This range of weapons has received criticism from both sides of the advocacy spectrum, for being both too broadly and too narrowly tailored.

The inclusion of small arms and light weapons came under fire by advocacy groups that support the right to bear arms. Speaking to this point, International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR) Executive Director Philip Watson explained to RAPSI during the conference, “We are appalled they deemed it appropriate to place civilian firearms used for self-defense in a treaty with tanks, bombs, and attack helicopters. It is dangerous to include civilian self-defense weapons in such an international treaty that could curtail legitimate use or trade of small civilian weapons.  Personal security and the defense of one’s home and family are values shared across international borders, regardless of an individual’s background or nationality.”

The opposite side of the spectrum was comprised of disarmament and human rights advocacy groups who argued that the list of arms and activities covered was too narrow. Toward this end, Amnesty International [AI] noted in a press release toward the end of the conference that, “Major loopholes in the draft text include ammunition not being subject to tight decision-making controls, an array of weapons, munitions and related equipment not being covered, as well as the treaty only applying to the international trade of conventional arms instead of all international transfers including gifts and aid.”

A similarly concerned Oxfam released a statement by head of its arms control unit Anna Macdonald around the same time urging that “[t]here are more holes in this draft treaty than in a leaky bucket and these must be urgently closed if we are going to stop weapons from flowing into the world`s worst conflict zones.”

As it became clear toward the end of the conference that hope was lost, some viewed the stalemate as the fault of the US. In a widely publicized move, 51 US senators pledged to vote against ratification of the treaty if it failed to protect the constitutional right of US citizens to bear arms. As US ratification of an international treaty requires the approval of two-thirds of the senate, these numbers were sufficient to ensure against US ratification of the bill.

The pledge came in the form of a letter addressed to the Obama administration. A press release issued shortly thereafter by Republican Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi quoted a portion of the letter that urged the Obama administration to break the conference’s required consensus if doing so was necessary to protect the right of US citizens to bear arms. The relevant passage stated:  “As the treaty process continues, we strongly encourage your administration not only to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership, but to ensure – if necessary, by breaking consensus at the July conference – that the treaty will explicitly recognize the legitimacy of lawful activities associated with firearms, including but not limited to the right of self-defense. As members of the United States Senate, we will oppose the ratification of any Arms Trade Treaty that falls short of this standard.”

Later that day, the US State Department (USDOS) issued a statement acknowledging both the failure of the conference to produce tangible results and the refusal of the US to move to accept the treaty in its ultimate form. USDOS spokesperson Victoria Nuland stated, “we do not support a vote in the UNGA on the current text. The illicit trafficking of conventional arms is an important national security concern for the United States. While we sought to conclude this month’s negotiations with a Treaty, more time is a reasonable request for such a complex and critical issue. The current text reflects considerable positive progress, but it needs further review and refinement.”

Some US-based right-to-bear-arms advocacy groups attributed the stalemate to their own grassroots efforts. The most well-known such group, the National Rifle Association (NRA) took personal credit for the failure of the conference to produce results, stating on its website Friday: “The Conference on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has broken down and will not report a draft treaty to the member nations… This is a big victory for American gun owners, and the NRA is being widely credited for killing the [conference.]”

The conference’s launch was drenched with optimism. Prior to the start of negotiations, many lauded the potential of the conference to make the world a safer place through the regulation of the international arms trade. Ban expressed optimism in the face of the daunting task that lay ahead, noting, “It is ambitious, but I believe it is achievable.” During his opening statement, Ban urged the necessity of the conference’s success: “Every day, we at the United Nations see the human toll of an absence of regulations or lax controls on the arms trade.  We see it in the suffering of civilian populations trapped by armed conflict or pervasive crime.  We see it in the killing and wounding of civilians — including children, the most vulnerable of all.  We see it in the massive displacement of people within and across borders.  We see it through grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.”

As negotiations fizzled, he lamented, “The Conference’s inability to conclude its work on this much-awaited ATT, despite years of effort of Member States and civil society from many countries, is a setback.”
The Second UN Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects

The conference currently underway has been scheduled to run from 27 August to 7 September. A list of member nations in attendance has not yet been released, but a UN official speaking to RAPSI Thursday confirmed that at least 75-80% of UN states are represented.

The document at issue is the politically binding “Programme of action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects,” (POA) which was adopted by consensus in 2001.

From the start, the UN has made clear its intention to refrain during the course of the conference from restricting firearm ownership rights. A UN press statement explained, “The Review Conference only reviews progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action which was adopted in 2001 to combat the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons… It is not about banning firearms or any other type of small arms or prohibiting people from owning legal weapons.”

The release emphasized the conference’s disinterest in imposing lofty regulations, stating: “Each sovereign State determines its own laws and regulations for the manufacture, sale and possession of firearms by its citizens. The United Nations has no jurisdiction over such matters.”

After denying rumors that the conference would essentially serve as a component part of a broader UN conspiracy—in connection with the Arms Trade Treaty—to prohibit civilian gun ownership, the release reiterated the recent failure of the ATT to come into existence: “The Arms Trade Treaty does not yet exist. It was discussed throughout July 2012 and focused on setting common standards for how States could regulate the international trade of all types of conventional arms. No consensus was achieved on a draft Treaty text. “

This conspiracy theory denial points to a critical difference between the conferences and the documents at their core. The ATT sought to regulate the international trade of all types of conventional arms. The POA sought to eliminate the illicit trade of small arms. The goals of the former were extraordinarily lofty; those of the latter, quite narrow.

The POA was born the successful outcome of a conference similar to that which failed to produce the ATT. UN members came together with the goal of combatting, preventing, and eradicating the small arms trade in July 2001, and reached a consensus on how to do so: by targeted, limited means.

Regardless of where one stands on the right to bear arms, it is worth noting the different reactions elicited from the two texts with similar goals but diametrically opposed scopes.

It should be noted that the POA has been criticized by its own implementation support system for lacking key mechanisms to ensure its implementation. It is possible that the inclusion of such mechanisms would have created obstacles to its approval similar to those faced by the ATT.

Russian Gun Rights Group Joins IAPCAR

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Original Story VIA:

BELLEVUE, WA – The International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR) added Russia’s The Right to Arms as its newest member working to protect and expand the right to keep and bear arms around the globe. Right to Arms joins a coalition of 20 other groups from 11 countries on five different continents that represent millions of firearm owners and citizens concerned about civilian arms rights.

“IAPCAR is quickly expanding as the premier international arms rights organization with groups like Right to Arms as new allies in securing the human right to keep and bear arms,” said IAPCAR executive director, Philip Watson.

“The push for civilian arms rights continues to grow at a fast pace as this week we’ve added ANARMA of Spain and now Right to Arms of Russia as new members.” Watson observed.

“It is a great honor for our group to join IAPCAR,” said Right to Arms chairman Maria Butina. As Russia’s highest profile gun rights advocacy organization, Right to Arms also runs the popular website (

Julianne Versnel, director of operations for the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and Alan Gottlieb, Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) established IAPCAR to serve as a vehicle to unify arms rights groups against international threats to the human right of self-defense and the legitimate use of guns.

“IAPCAR strongly opposes any U.N. Arms Trade Treaty that infringes on national sovereignty and civilian arms rights for self-defense,” said SAF’s Versnel.

CCRKBA’s Gottlieb added, “The growth of this international movement to protect the individual right to keep and bear arms is an unprecedented advancement for freedom.”