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25 Jul, 2012 20:01

Russian MPs suggest allowing public use of firearms shortly after Colorado shootings

Following the shooting spree in a Colorado cinema, Russian legislators have drafted a bill which would allow public use of firearms. The law’s sponsors hope to curb crime rates, while opponents say legal air-guns already cause enough damage.

The principle behind the drafted bill allowing the private use of handguns is “my home is my castle,” so any invasion of private space could be met with loaded barrels. Aleksandr Torshin, who drafted the bill, says pistol owners might get divided into several groups. Some would be sanctioned to use weapons to protect their homes only, while others would be authorized to take handguns in their cars. The most privileged group would be permitted to carry pistols anywhere. This third category could include postmen, ambulance staff and social workers. To have the right to use handguns, Russians would have to prove they are not mentally ill, have no criminal record, are not addicted to alcohol or drugs and undergo special training. Torshin and his supporters think more guns would bring down crime rates. It has also been suggested that Russia’s GDP would benefit from a gun sales boom and the industry would become more competitive given the surge in demand. The average cost of a pistol is around $300, while the number of potential pistol buyers is as high as 23 million, according to Torshin’s estimates. Opponents dispute the logic underpinning the bill. MPs say that air-guns, which are already allowed in Russia, are more than enough for self-defense. A rubber bullet fired from such a weapon can break a skull and inflict a deadly wound. Experts also doubt the new law would help to discipline the public. Air-guns are quite frequently used in street rows instead of self-defense, so making a stock of firearms available to the public would only criminalize society, they point out.“I am totally against this initiative,” Veniamin Rodzyansky, a member of the Public Chamber, told RT. “We remember the case of the football fan Egor Sviridov. He was shot dead with a non-lethal gun.”“This whole debate has a single cause, namely that society feels unsafe. It wants justice and it’s up to the government to provide this protection. To provide it, and not to sell it to people for money,” added Rodzyansky.A 100-page draft law was released Wednesday, while the upper chamber of Russia’s Parliament listened to Torshin’s report on Tuesday. Russia’s government has already called the bill “unnecessary and ill-timed”, but the legislators are still to pass their judgment. If the initiative is approved, the draft will get a full hearing in one of the autumn sessions.