Gun Control

School Shooting Hits Russia Despite Prohibitive Gun Laws

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Pravda screencap

Russia was hit by a rare and tragic event on Monday: a school shooting. Sergei Gordeyev, a 15-year-old student armed with his father's hunting rifle, allegedly killed two teachers and briefly held around 20 people hostages before police detained him. Such incidents are virtually unheard of in the country, and politicians and others are offering circuitous remedies.

In an interview with Russian newspaper Pravda, the Association of Child Psychologists' Alexander Kuznetsov blamed video game and TV violence, suggesting that they foment antisocial attitudes. The State Duma is now considering a bill that would ban shooter-based video games.

Activist Boris Altshuler suggests that the nation's children are burdened by the loneliness of the internet and should engage in "semi-mandatory extracurricular activities" as students did during Soviet times.

President Vladimir Putin asserts that a more refined and cultured education would teach youths greater empathy, ultimately preventing them from engaging in crimes.

While some of these propositions may (or may not) affect the underlying social problems Russian youth face, they don't at all address how to actually prevent future violent crimes like the one that shocked the nation yesterday.

The shooting happened despite the fact that Russia has very strict gun control laws. Handguns are entirely banned from private ownership. Anyone who wants to buy a rifle must demonstrate a genuine reason for needing it (such as hunting), submit to a background check that includes criminal, mental, and medical records (suffering from alcoholism is an immediate disqualifier), participate in safety training, and renew their license every five years. Even in one's own home, guns must be locked up and are subject to inspections by police. Both concealed and open carry are largely prohibited.

Russians own fewer than 13 million firearms (compared to the nearly 310 million firearms in America) and predictably face few gun-related crimes. That's not to say that guns are inaccessible or unused for criminal pursuits. Black market arms dealing is highly lucrative. And, last year one of the nation's top mobsters was shot and killed in broad daylight.

Meanwhile, law-abiding civilians seem to be most encumbered by regulations. "Successful use of long-stemmed guns is depressingly rare," writes Vladimir Simonov of RIA-Novosti, because "burglars have already broken in while you're still fiddling with the key to the case to get hold of your favorite gun."

Yet, violent crime doesn't appear to be in any way stifled by the scarcity of legal guns. United Nations' data from 2011 (the most recently available) shows that Russia experienced 11.2 homicides per 100,000 people, which is more than double what the U.S. faced. This may be unsurprising, given a recent Harvard study that crunched numbers on gun crimes world-wide and found "no correlation of high gun ownership nations and greater murder per capita or lower gun ownership nations and less murder per capita."

The loss of life yesterday in Russia deserves much mourning. The nation has been lucky to experience so few school shootings. But, if it hopes to prevent similar incidents and curb its overall homicide rate, both the government and the people must reconsider their belief in restricting the self-defense of law-abiding citizens.

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  1. Like a lot of things about Russia, the government stats mean nothing.

  2. Has anyone tried banning schools yet?

    1. What they need is a ban on killing other people. That’ll fix it.

  3. Meanwhile, law-abiding civilians seem to be most encumbered by regulations.

    also, the sun rose in the east this morning and water is wet. Up next, a new study that shows climate change could be causing babies to be born naked.

  4. In an interview with Russian newspaper Pravda, the Association of Child Psychologists’ Alexander Kuznetsov blamed video game and TV violence, suggesting that they foment antisocial attitudes. The State Duma is now considering a bill that would ban shooter-based video games.

    It’s actually comforting to know that their politicians are as dumb as Dianne Feinstein ours are.

  5. . Anyone who wants to buy a rifle must demonstrate a genuine reason for needing it (such as hunting), submit to a background check that includes criminal, mental, and medical records (suffering from alcoholism is an immediate disqualifier), participate in safety training, and renew their license every five years. Even in one’s own home, guns must be locked up and are subject to inspections by police. Both concealed and open carry are largely prohibited.

    Sounds like Tony would do very well in Russia.

    1. Sounds almost like Canada. We don’t have to prove a reason and don’t have to go through a full background check though.

      Otherwise, identical.

      1. I remember YEARS ago getting into an online discussion with a Canadian that said the US could never successfully invade Canada because Canadian citizens owned too many badass guns.

  6. I blame BOOOSH.

      1. That’s only because those Canadians are so inscrutable.

    1. I blame Virginia’s lax gun laws. They’re obviously buying them there and bringing them back to Russia.

  7. Even in one’s own home, guns must be locked up and are subject to inspections by police.

    Tulpa will be in his bunk.

    1. If you own restricted weapons (handguns, certain scary looking rifles) in Canada you are subject to unannounced inspections of your home.

  8. This just means we need to ban hunting rifles. Duh!

  9. Russia is Biden’s dream when it comes to firearms. You can get a rifle or a shotgun, but it’s an incredible hassle for law abiding citizens. And for all that, it’s meaningless – just before i came to the States in the late 90’s, one of my best friends got killed – stabbed by a teenage gang. Our neighbor’s apartment got robbed several times. All those gun laws are largely meaningless, except giving power to the criminals.

    Curiously enough, it’s different in the South (around Caucasus). People used to keep private anti-aircraft machine guns and armored personnel carriers over there. I wonder if that’s changed.

  10. If you own restricted weapons (handguns, certain scary looking rifles) in Canada you are subject to unannounced inspections of your home.

    I suspect your chances of getting a visit are higher in Toronto than in the Yukon.

    1. I didn’t bother to get my restricted license. There is no way I’m opening my doors to warrantless police searches.

  11. If there’s no connection to Russian homophobia, I’m not sure why I’m supposed to care.

    kidding, c’mon already…

    But I’m not at all sure that anyone will read this story and take away the message that, ‘gun restrictions *dont’ work*’.

    No = they’ll say these were POORLY IMPLEMENTED gun restrictions.

    1. It’s not just homophobia. They hate the Jews too. Russia has a very significant segment of the population that holds National Socialist views. It’s bizarre for a country that lost 20+ million people trying to fight off National Socialists, but there you have it.

      1. Figure that one out and you have a leg up on figuring out a liberal.

    2. You gotta wonder how much less homophobia-inspired violence there would be if ordinary citizens had better access to firearms…

  12. Russia experienced 11.2 homicides per 100,000 people, which is more than double what the U.S. faced

    “But they aren’t gun homicides, and that makes all the difference!”

    1. Dead is dead. Period.

      It doesn’t matter what tool – if any – the murderer chose to use, it’s the fact they felt the need to murder.

      Looking at it from the liberal viewpoint that more murders are committed (total) when more guns are available is proven to be false by the stats.

  13. I think they might have a valid point in that kids aren’t having anywhere near the amount of face-to-face interactions now (because of online communication), so are growing up as virtual “loaners” who haven’t developed proper empathy skills.

    Hasn’t it always been (up until recent years) the “loaner types” that were the ones who would go and commit mass murder out-of-the-blue.?

    It may very well be that kids who interact almost exclusively through digital devices are lacking development in a critical part of their brain.

    Blaming the type of games they play is just diverting people from the real issue.

  14. Hey Zenon, great article and all, but I feel it fair to let you know that that “recent Harvard study” that you cited is neither recent nor was it conducted by Harvard. I believe it was done in 2007 and it was conducted by the Fraser Institute, if I remember correctly. The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy is actually a pretty conservative/libertarian publication at Harvard. I’m not disputing their findings (I’m inclined to believe Professor Kates and Mauser), I just don’t want anyone to accuse us of spreading misinformation for the sake of looking more credible.

  15. “President Vladimir Putin asserts that a more refined and cultured education would teach youths greater e?m?p?a?t?h?y?, patience, ultimately p?r?e?v?e?n?t?i?n?g? delaying them from engaging in c?r?i?m?e?s? state-sanctioned violence. ”

    FTFY

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