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Article Russia: Right to Use Firearms Extended

(Nov. 25, 2014) On November 8, 2014, the Government of the Russian Federation amended the Rules on Circulation of Civil and Service Weapons and Munitions in the Territory of the Russian Federation (Government Regulation No. 1178, Government Legal Information portal (in Russian).) The amending Regulation is a major document that implements the Russian Federal Law on Weapons (Federal Law No. 150 of Dec. 13, 1996, GARANT.RU (in Russian)) and regulates among other matters, the production, trade, sale, transfer, purchase, possession, registration, transportation, carrying, use, export, and import of firearms in Russia. (Government Regulation No. 1178.)

The new Rules allow individuals who have gun permits to carry concealed weapons and use them for the purpose of self-defense. Earlier, private individuals were allowed to carry and use guns only for the purposes of hunting, participation in sporting events, and training exercises (id. § 17). The list of weapons that can be purchased by private individuals and used for the purposes allowed under the Law on Weapons was also expanded and now includes changeable rifled barrels (id. § 8).

Government commentaries on the new Regulation emphasize the fact that existing legislation clearly defines situations in which possession of firearms is prohibited. These are at mass gatherings, demonstrations, protests, and other public events and on the grounds of educational institutions and in entertainment establishments open at night and selling alcoholic beverages. Drunken individuals also cannot carry weapons legally. Long-barreled firearms and knives cannot be used for self-defense under current laws. (Russians Can Carry Firearms for Self-Defense If They Have Gun Licenses, TASS.RU (Nov. 18, 2014) (in Russian).)

The Rules now also simplify requirements for foreigners who bring their firearms across the Russian border. They are allowed to have guns bought in Russia for ten days after purchase, instead of the five days formerly specified, and may keep weapons brought with them into the country throughout their stay in Russia. Previously, foreign hunters and sportsmen were required to transfer their guns to representatives of the Russian organization that had invited them to participate in hunting or sporting competitions in Russia (Government Regulation No. 1178, § 6).

Other 2014 Legislation on Firearms

The issuance of the Regulation follows a series of legislative acts in the field of gun control passed in Russia in 2014. In April 2014, amendments to the Federal Law on Weapons entered into force under which those whose criminal punishment has not been cancelled and those who have committed two or more public order violations in one year or have a drug-related criminal record will be prohibited from obtaining a gun license until their administrative punishment or criminal records are expunged. (Federal Law No. 63 of Apr. 2, 2014, ROSSIISKAIA GAZETA (Apr. 4, 2014) (in Russian).)

In July, the Russian legislature passed a set of amendments to the Law on Weapons (Federal Law No. 227 of July 21, 2014, ROSSIISKAIA GAZETA (July 23, 2014) (in Russian)). These revisions increased the minimum age for purchasing non-lethal weapons from 18 to 21, established that only state medical clinics can conduct the psychiatric evaluations required to apply for a gun permit, and imposed criminal penalties on gun owners who did not take measures to prevent unauthorized access to their guns. Those gun owners who are found carrying their weapons while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be fined, their concealed carry permit may be cancelled, and their weapons may be confiscated (id.).

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