Hint: only one lets you carry a gun in self-defense. And it’s not the one you might think. Russian state-controlled media outlet Russia Today:
Until now Russian gun enthusiasts were only permitted to carry firearms for hunting or target shooting after obtaining a license through the Interior Ministry. Russian gun licenses are to be renewed every five years, and applicants face strict background checks and are required to take gun safety courses.
The addendum to the law now lists self-defense as a legally acceptable reason for carrying a weapon.
Now, they’re not relaxing laws totally in the Wild East. There are still some restrictions, ones that will sound familiar to many licensed carriers in the what Vladimir Vladimirovich learned to call the Glavni Vrag in his days as an intelligence officer:
The government’s press service underscored that carrying a weapon will remain prohibited at educational institutions, establishments which operate at night and serve alcohol, and mass public gatherings such as street demonstrations or protests. The legislation also forbids carrying a weapon while under the influence of alcohol.
For many years, pistols were forbidden to ordinary citizens in Russia. But that was then, and this is now:
The law broadly defines self-defense weapons, including smoothbore long barrelled guns, pistols, revolvers, and other firearms, as well as Tasers, and devices equipped with teargas. Long barrelled fire arms and edged weapons are, however, forbidden by the law.
(We suspect that the last sentence means that carrying a rifle or knife for defense is unlawful, but we’re not lawyers, and we’re definitely not Russian lawyers, and taking Russian legal advice from us is a good way to find out how much more pleasant Lefortovo Prison is now than it was in Solzhenitsyn’s day).
RT illustrated their piece with a picture of a display of, mostly, flare and gas guns, a unique Russian adaptation to an earlier, more restrictive law. You can see them here and here for instance. (In English — Googlish anyway — here and here).
In addition, the amendment softened requirements for foreigners bringing arms into the Russian Federation or purchasing arms on Russian territory. The grace period for foreigners awaiting a license from the Interior Ministry for firearms has been increased from 5 to 10 days.
A Library of Congress analysis that’s about a year old notes the previous restrictions led to a low level of legal, and a much higher level of black-market, firearms use. There are less than a million rifles in civilian hands legally, then, and no pistols. Restrictions included a first issue of a permit for smooth-bore weapons only; after five years with no incidents, a permit holder could ask for rifle-bore privileges.
Self-defense was already legal under Russian law, what this modification does is liberalize the way in which people are licensed to be armed. As recently as 2012, then-PM Medvedev (generally considered a mouthpiece for Putin) opposed such liberalization.
Meanwhile, in the Land of the Free…
Then, there’s Washington, DC that is. And before we tell the story of Washington’s shiny new pistol permit law, we’re going to tell you the story of the Literacy Test in Beauregard County (with apologies to John Ross, from whom we’re pretty sure this example’s stolen).
Well, it was 1952, and there was an election, and Joe came to the polling place, and got in line behind Ted. Now, Ted was white and Joe was black, which ought not to make a difference to the law, and it sort-of didn’t. But there was a Literacy Test that every voter had to take to ensure that only literate people voted. It was not racist, they pinky-swore, it was just good government.
Who could be against good government? Certainly not Sheriff Buford F. Cruelty, who was the law in Beauregard County personified. The Sheriff handed Ted a newspaper. “Literacy test, sir. Read the headline.”
Ted: “Why, it says, ‘Election Today,’ Sheriff.”
“That it does, sir. Now, you, boy” — he addressed Joe — “Read the headline.”
“But Sheriff, sir! This newspaper is Chinese.”
“I didn’t ask you where it was from boy, I said read it. Now what do that headline say?”
“It says, there’s no colored folks voting in Beauregard County today.”
What the Washington Police Department under Chief Cathy Lanier has done is the gun-licensing equivalent of that clown sheriff’s literacy test. No-one not “connected” can succeed.
The way this is done is by requiring training by a Washington Police Department-licensed trainer, and then, by not licensing any trainers. There is only one catch, but it’s Catch-22. Emily Miller explains:
(Hat tip, John Richardson).
Lanier, by the way, devotes much of her limited energy to fighting gun rights in her jurisdiction. She has no discernible interest in closing the city’s thousands of cold homicides (including most of this year’s, of course).
There are so many unsolved murders, and the police department is so incompetent, that they’re not at all sure they list them all, and they appeal to the public to remind them of the murderers their dozing detectives forgot:
The MPD is working to update the Unsolved Murders web page. If your loved one was murdered in DC and their picture does not appear on this web page, please either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org…. Please provide the name of your loved one and the year they were murdered. If a photo is mailed in, please let us know if we need to return it and include a return address.
Lord love a duck. So she’s not really on top of the unsolved-murder thing, or of pursuing the teeming throngs of violent criminals in certain parts of the city, but she’s always up for a press conference when the violence spills out of the ghettoes and claims a foreign tourist.
Speaking of which, one more difference between Moscow and Washington: until this law change, only Russian citizens could have guns in Russia… the RT report is unclear but there seem to be some provisions for foreigners to be armed for lawful purposes.
Meanwhile, in the US, this kind of intransigence by bad cops just brings the date of national reciprocity closer. And it might be a century off, but we could see international reciprocity coming in the very long term.