What Is It With European Countries And Air Guns?

Last Monday I reported on an Englishman who received a two year prison sentence for possession of an air rifle without the proper licenses. Mind you, these are the same air rifles that you or I could buy at Walmart or through the mail or internet. The only requirement might be proof of age in some jurisdictions.

Now comes a story from the Moscow Times about how air gun pellets have virtually vanished from the shelves of stores in Moscow. This was in response to an “unofficial” request from the Interior Ministry to stop sales of air gun pellets until they can finish registering owners.

Customers in a Moscow gun shop examining air pistols

The Russian Duma at the request of the Interior Ministry passed laws regarding air guns this past summer according to the Moscow Times.

Foreigners are barred from owning lethal weapons and air guns. But Russians who cannot own lethal weapons have been snapping up air guns in recent years.

The bill passed last summer tightens regulations in the field, obliging prospective buyers to undergo police-supervised training and purchase special boxes with locks to store the weapons. The law also places limits on the sale of air guns.

But the Interior Ministry has said it would push for a blanket ban on air guns, insisting that their non-lethality status encourages abuse that can actually result in deaths.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry denies that there is an unofficial ban saying that those properly licensed to own air guns can obtain ammo in Moscow. Outside of Moscow, the Interior Ministry request is being ignored according to many sources.

There are Russian groups fighting back on this de facto ban.

But the current ban on ammunition represents an abuse of power by the Interior Ministry, said Sergei Zainullin, deputy head of the All-Russia Association of Civilian Weapons’ Owners.

“The right to bear arms is an unalienable one, just like property rights, and can only be limited through legislation, not emotions,” Zainullin said by telephone Sunday.

I’m glad to hear that there is organized opposition to this. However, I have to wonder how effective it can be in Putin’s Russia.

As an odd postscript to this story, the Moscow Times reports there was a bill introduced in the Duma by a group of legislators from the Kemerovo region that would issue air guns to ambulance workers for protection. It makes me think of the old saying about bringing a knife to a gun fight. Perhaps with all the millions of Makarovs sitting in military warehouses in Russia, they could be issued something a bit more effective than a pellet gun in order to protect themselves.