School Shooting Hits Russia Despite Prohibitive Gun Laws

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
that would ban shooter-based video games.

Activist Boris Altshuler
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

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
. 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
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’
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
 “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
must reconsider their belief in restricting the
self-defense of law-abiding citizens.

from Hit & Run

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.