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Putin Just Gave All Russians the Right to Carry a Rifle Anywhere

What could possibly go wrong?


Today, the Russian government changed its gun laws to allow citizens to carry rifles in public for the purpose of self-defense. Sound terrifying? It is.

Let's think about the context into which guns will be introduced. The Russians are the second-biggest consumers of hard liquor in the world (first in Europe). According to the World Health Organization, risky drinking—defined as "frequency and circumstances of alcohol consumption and the proportion of people drinking alcohol to intoxication"—is highest in the Russian Federation. Drinking in that country already often leads to suicide and accidents and fights.

Russia is also a country where people are massively suspicious of their fellow citizens, and equally unsure of their future. And that was before the Russians invaded Ukraine and whipped its own population into an aggressive, nationalist frenzy. One very telling incident: a young Russian journalist was slapped by an older woman on the metro for wearing a shirt with Snoopy holding a British flag. Imagine if the woman had a rifle slung over her shoulder. (That's not hard to imagine if you read my 2012 piece about the small but very active gun rights lobby in Russia.)

As if to punctuate the point, President Vladimir Putin, speaking Tuesday at the United People's Front said: "You can get a lot more done with politeness and a weapon than with politeness alone."