After the horrific shooting in Aurora last week, questions of gun control have been prominent in media around the world. Now one Russian senator has announced he wants to loosen gun control laws in his country in order to promote social order. The Senator, Alexander Torshin, claims that:
Possessing arms disciplines us and will change the atmosphere in society because people will no longer act lawlessly.
The Moscow Times reports that many critics feel he is just introducing the possibility of this new legislation as a way to attract publicity to Russia and to the region he represents in the upper house of parliament, Marii-El. Torshin co-authored the bill with a spokesman for the Right to Arms movement, Dmitry Kislov, who claims that by arming citizens, public safety will increase.
The authors also claim that the circumstances in Russia are so completely different than in the United States that the tragedy in Aurora cannot be compared with the social situation in Russia. As the Moscow Times quotes him, Kislov said this regarding the Aurora tragedy:
This was a huge tragedy, and we feel very compassionate about the victims. But we know the realities in U.S. society well and can say that this is not typical.
Torshin claims he will not begin drafting any official legislation until the fall session of parliament but opinions about gun control are unlikely to change drastically during the summer interval. The Levada Center reports that 80 percent of Russians oppose the legalization of firearms in Russia.
There are plenty of critics of Torshin and Kislov’s proposed bill. Sergei Goncharev, the head of the union of veterans of the Alpha counter-terror unit, commented on the current availability of air guns in Russia in the Russia and India Report:
Please consider the situation created by the permission to possess and carry rubber ball guns which fire rubber projectiles. Everyday disputes, including on housing estates and roads, are now often settled with the help of traumatic pistols. Imagine real handguns in their place, and a vision of unmitigated deadly violence will emerge.
Currently about 6.5 million firearms are legally owned in Russia, and they are only allowed to be used on private property for self defense or for hunting. The Interior Ministry in Russia is extremely disapproving of the proposed legislation and has told Torshin so in an official note.
The debate in Russia mirrors many of the same debates that have been brewing in the United States, although it remains surprising that the authors of the bill are willing to call on personal safety and integrity as reasons for promoting personal firearms so soon after the bloody attack in the United States.
Photo Credit: Francois Polito