The center-left Fair Russia party intends to introduce a bill obliging all firearm owners to wear special signs indicating they are carrying, its deputy head in the State Duma, Oleg Nilov, says.
In a recent interview with Parlamentskaya Gazeta (Parliamentary Newspaper) daily, Nilov said according to statistics maintained by Russian law enforcement agencies, the overall number of firearm owners in the country amounts to 8 million people. He noted, however, that this included not only shotguns and rifles used by hunters and sportsmen, but also non-lethal weapons: pistols modified to fire pepper spray or using special rubber bullets exceeding the regular caliber.
The lawmaker went on to say that while those who carry firearms for work – such as police and security guards – can be clearly identified by their uniforms and badges, there is no way to distinguish civilians toting firearms from the rest of the public.
“If someone chooses to carry a handgun this person must clearly mark this fact in order to inform the rest of the public, as well as police, who can then check if the gun is properly registered and carried in accordance with all the rules,” Nilov told reporters.
He said that the identification take the form of a special emblem worn on the outer clothing or even a vest similar to those used by traffic police. The proposed bill would introduce responsibility for carrying firearms without this identification and make the use of firearms by unmarked individuals an aggravated offense, even in cases of self-defense.
In the same interview, Nilov said he wanted to introduce additional restrictions on the carrying of knives, describing the current lax rules as the main reason behind numerous stabbing incidents and robberies at knifepoint.
Existing Russian gun laws are not exceptionally strict, but they forbid concealed carry of firearms for self-defense for ordinary citizens. In 2014, the Russian parliament passed an amendment allowing citizens to carry licensed weapons for the purposes of ‘self-defense,’ but the Interior Ministry quickly added that this covered only non-lethal guns, not hunting or combat versions.
In October 2017, the head of the Russian National Guard – the federal agency in charge of gun control – said that in his opinion the community was not ready for mass ownership of firearms. The official then promised to tighten controls over possession and turnover of guns, including those that fire irritants and non-lethal rubber bullets.