Photo courtesy kyivpost.com
Ukraine is considering rights of self defense and the legal rights to own weapons. Since the breakup of the USSR, the Soviet Empire’s former client states have been struggling with numerous issues of law, including private property rights and self defense.
Ukraine has little traditional law concerning the ownership of firearms. Current law, as such, consists of instructions issued in 1998 by the Interior Ministry. In practice, the Interior Minister can — and does — give firearms to whomever he wishes. Exactly who is eligible, and who is not, tends to be a matter of personal opinion.
That confrontation would be unremarkable were it not for the story of how (Peoples Front lawmaker) Serhiy Pashinsky received the pistol: as an official gift from Interior Minister Arsen Avakov — part of a tradition in which the minister and president award firearms to politicians, military officers, and even influential business people.
The Ukrainian system reminds me of “dollar a year” sheriff deputies that were common practice in many states before federal money and standards ended the practice. In many jurisdictions, if the sheriff liked you — or was properly persuaded — you could be deputized and allowed to legally carry a concealed firearm.
Another similarity is with “may issue” states in the United States. Those states grant the power to issue carry permits to a person in authority, usually an area’s chief law enforcement officer. In California the issuing authority arbitrarily decides who gets a permit to carry a firearm, and who does not. The system is ripe for abuse and corruption. Many people with permits in California have ties — either personal or financial — to the issuing authority.
In Ukraine this system applies to the entire nation. I know two people who have traveled in Ukraine, one of them extensively. One married a Ukrainian woman, the other’s son married a Ukrainian girl. Neither knows the other. Both have told me that the presence of organized crime is pervasive and obvious and black market guns are easily available.
But that doesn’t come without risk. The legal consequences for Ukrainians who need to use a black market gun to defend themselves or their families.
The war in Ukraine has only increased the desire for personal weapons. Many veterans coming back from the front bring their personal weapons with them. They’d rather have a gun and not need it, than need it and not have it, regardless of the potential legal consequences.
The Ukrainian Association of Gun Owners (UAGO) is pushing for gun law reform. They want clear, evenly applied laws for the right to own, keep and bear arms for self defense.
Georgy Uchaikin bristles at the (current system). As director of the Ukrainian Association of Gun Owners or UAGO, he advocates for Ukrainians’ legal right to bear arms. To him, “awarded guns” demonstrate the discriminatory nature of his country’s gun policies.
By law, these awards are intended only for military men and women. But interpretation is loose. As a result, Uchaikin estimates Ukrainian authorities have handed out 50,000 weapons to members of the elite since independence in 1991 in a state that is otherwise hostile to gun ownership.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry didn’t respond to the Kyiv Post’s request about the number of the guns awarded, but Avakov said earlier the ministry gave out 2,230 guns between 2004 and 2016.
“What’s the difference how the bribe looks, whether it’s dollars or a pistol?” Uchaikin says. “It’s a frightening scheme.”
In most countries without a tradition of individual firearm ownership, elites can obtain gunsor armed guards if they want them. It’s the common people who are routinely disarmed by the law.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.