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It’s February 2022 and Ukraine has replaced SARS-CoV-2 as the focus of all news media. My wife is from Ukraine so for many years I blogged on Ukraine on my old World Examiner blog here. Recently I repurposed the domain to point to a page on this site dedicated to keeping track of developments in right to carry laws around the world, and this should make an excellent first post for that page.

The big Ukraine news for gunbloggers is that Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) passed some sort of national carry law on Wednesday, February 23, 2022.

Except maybe it didn’t, though it does seem that such legislation is coming perhaps. As noted here, the bill (#5708 “on the right to civilian firearms”) only passed first reading. There may be amendments and the bill could still be rejected entirely.

Almost all of the dozens of English language articles I found mentioned that a new law allowed carry of “firearms” outside, but didn’t specify whether that included concealable pistols. I did find one article here that says the law allowing “circulation” (I take that to mean distribution for home and emergency use, not outside carry in public) does not apply to “short-barreled” firearms. That article does say the law addresses self-defense, but that could mean inside the home. If you look at the draft laws, “short-barreled” is any firearm that is not a “long-barreled” firearm. (Actually, with apologies to the NRA’s educational division, the draft laws apparently make ample use of the word “weapon” instead of “firearm”.)

There appear to be two draft laws under consideration: #5708 (introduced last June) and #5708-1 (introduced last July). I haven’t been able to find the actual text for #5708, but it seems from several Ukrainian- and Russian-language articles that it is watered down and not much of a boon to self-defense. The real change appears to be in #5708-1 (text here) which goes further in allowing carry for self-defense, including with “short-barreled” firearms, but hasn’t been voted on yet. These are lengthy, all-encompassing bills with features like psych evals, central registry, and mandatory insurance, that Americans would find oppressive, but at least they clarify the law and allow a path forward for Ukrainians increasingly interested in armed protection. (Ukraine is always trying to please the EU, which is trying to control traffic in small arms, and that explains the red tape in these drafts as well as the shameful Australia-style destruction by Ukraine of hundreds of thousands of firearms, at least in the early 2000’s although it appears they dragged their feet a bit and destroyed less firearms than the EU was hoping they would destroy.)

Currently there is little or no statutory law regulating guns in Ukraine. But plenty of people carry (I know from my trips there) under regulatory edict promulgated in 1998. Mainly elites, awarded guns officially. (The many rifles recently handed out to civilians appear to be the result of military edict, not the laws under consideration.)

Zelensky is a big improvement over previous Ukraine leaders, but he should have started arming and training his people eons ago. (Zelensky’s positions are for the most part libertarian, though in 2019 he opposed a citizen petition seeking to liberalize gun use, saying that was premature and the issue needs more study.) Handing weapons at the eleventh hour to people with no training makes little sense, although Ukraine does have a lot of vets from years of fighting. Swiss-style neutrality might have worked, better than a feckless NATO, and might have allowed Russia eventually to build trust with the West. On the other hand, the world is waking up to the real intentions of Putin, who calls Ukraine “Little Russia” but is really afraid of it because he realizes Ukraine is the true Russia of Kievan Rus, the actual “third Rome” Putin pretends to be. Maybe things have gone so far south that reconciliation and neutrality are no longer possible and NATO membership is now a necessity.