FIREARMS NEWS: Ukrainian territorial defense ordered to hand over weapons “for storage”

08 January 2023

The development and formation of territorial defense of Ukraine and the lack of arms legislation are the subject of heated discussions not only in Ukraine.

We bring to your attention the material that was published last year in one of the most authoritative American publications Firearms News.

Given that none of the issues raised in the publication has been resolved over the past year, we can safely state that we have entered the new year with old problems, which is unacceptable given the growing threats.

“The terrorist fighters in the liberated territories must surrender their weapons,” Ukrainian digital broadcasting Hromadske reported on Thursday. Referring to the message of the Ministry of Defense in the Telegram messenger, it is referred to the order of the Commander of the TRO Forces General Yuriy Galushkin.

“Part of our regions is liberated from the occupants, there are no battles. In these territories we need to fulfill tasks related to the reconstruction of our cities and villages, restore the economy, return to work,” Galushkin said.
“Therefore, it is time to concentrate weapons in certain storage areas in these regions. You will take care of it, take it for training and, if necessary, receive it to perform tasks. We will keep the powder dry. Proper storage of weapons is important so that at a crucial moment it can be quickly used and used against our enemy – Russian troops.”

It should be noted that only in Kyiv, as of March 11, more than 18 thousand weapons were “distributed” to new fighters of territorial defense.

Instead, on 24 March 2022, the Lithuanian parliament voted (119 in favour, none against and five abstentions) to allow all members of the civilian paramilitary organisation Riflemen’s Union to keep their government-issued G36 rifles at home.

To verify this statement (by General Galushkin), Firearms News contacted a Ukrainian government spokesperson in the army, and the response was as follows: “Hi. Yes, it is true. He spoke about Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions. He said that soldiers of territorial defense units and members of volunteer formations of territorial communities from these regions must store weapons in armory rooms.”

February 27, 2022: Russia’s war against Ukraine. Citizen-soldier of the territorial defense battalion of Kyiv. (Shutterstock/Drop of Light)

The disarmament of citizen volunteer soldiers (especially when the war is still in full swing) is a clear indicator that if and when the situation in Ukraine “normalizes”, there are plans to return to restrictive gun laws.

Firearms News called on President Zelensky, even before the Russian invasion, to “Open gun ownership to Ukrainians“.
One of the reasons why he (Zelenskiy) may have become a darling of the US left is that before the outbreak of full-scale hostilities, he was “in the same camp as anti-gun ownership Democrats – Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and others on expanding gun rights,” as the February article put it.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Ukrainians may possess military-style semi-automatic rifles and magazines of any capacity, as well as any smoothbore shotguns (all long-barreled weapons are classified as “hunting weapons”). Pistols are prohibited].

But didn’t Zelensky “give” Ukraine the 2nd Amendment?

The answer is no.
Earlier this year, the Rada (parliament) passed a law that lifts certain restrictions on Ukrainian gun owners, but only if they are actively involved in defending themselves against invasion. Regarding this law, the UIAA notes the following:

“The law obliges civilians to hand over firearms and unused ammunition to the National Police of Ukraine no later than 10 days after the end or termination of martial law in Ukraine. Civilians bear criminal responsibility for violation of this article”.

In addition, the law refers to the use of weapons exclusively against the occupiers. In all other cases, the use of weapons provides for increased responsibility under martial law.

Civilians can use legally obtained weapons. Military and law enforcement agencies strictly prohibit collecting any weapons on the battlefield, regardless of whether they are Russian or Ukrainian.

The law does not apply to active military personnel and persons subject to mobilization. They receive weapons under another law”.

When the political establishment saw that their own necks were on the line, suddenly the “reforms” requested by the Ukrainian Gun Owners Association (UGOA) turned from “premature” to urgent.
In the end, it turned out that a militia* of all the people (* hereinafter militia is a military force formed from the civilian population to supplement the regular army in emergencies) is “indispensable to the security of a free state”.

As Georgy Uchaykin, the founder of the UAFM, stated shortly after the invasion, “I warned that machine guns for the defense of the country would be distributed from trucks.” Uchaykin was referring to his prediction years ago that if Ukraine’s gun laws are not deregulated so that the process is free of red tape, months of paperwork and includes gun ownership, then a desperate Ukraine would have no choice but to hastily train citizens and distribute guns during a possible Russian invasion, whereas a nation where gun ownership is not discouraged but encouraged will always have a trained population for such an event.

BUCHA, UKRAINE – APRIL 07, 2022. Limbs and shoes of civilians killed by Russian troops are observed in a mass grave near the Bucha church. (Shutterstock/Vincent Mundy)

On April 24, Uchaykin noted on the UAWZ website: “Ukrainians have seen what it is like to remain unarmed under the enemy”. Indeed. The number of rapes and executions committed by Russian soldiers-occupiers is simply staggering.

In February, just a week before the invasion, when the US government warned that Russia was going to invade, Zelenskyy denied these reports and instead of arming Ukrainians with rifles and military weapons to protect their lives, he organized parades with flags and banners.

With Zelenskyy criticizing ordinary citizens joining the Territorial Defense and his opposition to easing gun ownership laws in 2021, Firearms News posed the question in an article calling on Zelenskyy to “open up gun ownership.” “Will this Russian invasion be the second Holodomor [when Stalin and the Russians killed 7 to 12 million Ukrainians] not for lack of food, but for lack of firearms among civilians? Let’s hope not. But if this happens, Zelenskyi will be the one to point the finger at.”

Of course, millions of Ukrainians have not been killed today, but many thousands have been executed and laid in mass graves. Countless deaths could have been prevented if Ukrainian citizens were armed like armed US citizens.

KYIV REGION, UKRAINE 04.05.22 Irpin, Bucha, Dmytrivka. Atrocities of the Russian army in the suburbs of Kyiv. Irpin. Civilian houses destroyed by Russian tanks. (Shutterstock/Kibri Ho)

So, what about Zelensky’s stated desire to have armed settlements in the future of Ukraine?

“We cannot talk about the ‘Switzerland of the future’ – probably, our state will not be able to be like that for a long time,” Zelensky predicted in the article of The Jerusalem Post, “but we will definitely become a ‘great Israel’ with our own face.”

Probably, this will not happen either.
While recently Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made headlines after the terrorist attack, announcing that “soldiers with basic combat training will be taking their weapons home with them this weekend” and stating that citizens should “Be vigilant. If you have a gun license, this is the time to carry it with you.”
We must not forget that Israel imposes strict “gun control”, including licensing (where 40% of applications are rejected, restrictions on the number of guns civilians can own (one), ammunition limits (50 rounds) and licensing restrictions (e.g. hunting) and “reasonable need to carry”.

With the ban on carrying arms and weapons in Ukraine, there will be even greater restrictions.

“We will not be surprised if there will be representatives of the Armed Forces or the National Guard in all institutions, supermarkets, cinemas, there will be people with weapons,” Zelenskyy said. Not “ordinary” people, based on the return to “existing laws on weapons”.

And this does not mean that the Swiss offer the optimal model, as noted by Firearms News. Although a referendum to ban Swiss police officers (reservists) from keeping their service weapons at home was rejected in 2011, according to USA Today, in 2019, “more than 63% of voters nationwide agreed to go along with European Union rules on firearms adopted two years ago after deadly terrorist attacks in France, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom.”

Zelenskiy is eager for Ukraine to join the European Union and doesn’t appear to bat an eye at meeting Brussels’ demands for limited gun ownership that comes with membership.

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

The biggest Second Amendment case was unfolding before the eyes of the world in Ukraine, as this Firearms News article points out, and all gun ban advocates could do was ignore it, change the subject to “gun ghosts,” or at most offer the fallacy that desperate times call for desperate measures.
All of them have lost the obvious truth formulated by Thomas Paine that “arms discourage and deter invaders and robbers and preserve order in the world as well as property…”

That is, the deterrent effect of a permanently armed and trained population, where no one in their right mind would try to break in, has been completely ignored by Ukraine’s elites, who, instead of capitalizing on what they have started and allowing it to develop into a secure society, seem intent on going back to the way things were.

The government distributed weapons. Why don’t they return it? After all, even in the US we do not see soldiers walking around armed on military bases.

Several high-profile incidents involving violent, fanatical madmen who took advantage of such “gun-free zones” (Saudi Air Force officer Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who shot up the Pensacola Naval Air Station, and Major Nidal Hassan, who massacred at Fort Hood) raise questions about the advisability of disarming the armed forces.

In fact, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail that he would “make sure soldiers stay armed and ready on our military bases” (a promise that was somehow forgotten when he became Commander-in-Chief).

In Ukraine (in virtually all cases), the government takes what it gives and takes away. This is why, if it is not seen as a right to arms, it is seen as a privilege, with those who proclaim the supremacy of government considering all rights as they will allow, as opposed to the existing God-given and inalienable rights of man.

But even the Constitution delegates to Congress the power to “provide for the organization, arming and coordination of the militia.” Their stuff, their rules, right?

The Militia Act of 1792 stated that citizens were required to present themselves with their own arms and equipment “when called for training or service”. Furthermore, the specifics of what they were supposed to take with them (“a good musket or flare, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints and a knapsack, a sack with a box in it to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges…”) have led some “Second Amendment scholars” to conclude what this means, that mandatory registration of weapons will comply with the Constitution. They do not take into account the fact that there was no requirement to report for what was not brought to the meeting.

Ukraine’s problem in this regard is restrictions on the possession and carrying of weapons that are not supplied or authorized by the government.
Compare this to what the founders of our country relied on, the statutes of various states such as Plymouth, Virginia, Maryland and others that require citizens to be armed when they are out of the home or in church. An example of this is the legal scholar Stephen P. Halbrook in his book “TheRight to Bear Arms“, “An act of 1639 in Rhode Island ordered “that no man should go within two miles of the town unarmed, with gun or sword; and that no man should come to public meetings unarmed”.

It is also a pretty good benchmark of how far the US has progressed.

It will be argued that the Ukrainian volunteers are not a professional military, and while that is true, also remember that a standing army was not something the Founders considered inimical to Liberty (hence the standing appropriation process is hard-wired into the Constitution).

One founder who recognized the difference in skill sets was Alexander Hamilton, who acknowledged this in Federalist No. 29, including how difficult it would be to impose discipline requirements on people who had farms to tend and crafts to practice

“To oblige a large number of yeomanry and other classes of citizens to be armed for the purpose of military exercises as often as may be necessary to attain the degree of perfection which entitles them to be called a well-regulated militia, would be a real hardship to the people, as well as a serious public inconvenience,” he wrote.

Well, there you have it. Doesn’t this mean that it is in favor of General Galushkin?

Not at all. Because you should read how Hamilton concluded this thought:

“With regard to the people in general, little more can be desired than to have them properly armed and equipped; and to ensure that this is not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice during the year,” he reasoned, knowing full well that these weapons remain in the hands of the people and not in a government-controlled vault.

Borodyanka, Kyiv region, Ukraine, 11.04.22: rescuers work in a building hit by a Russian missile, trying to save the bodies of people trapped in the building. (Shutterstock/David Peinado Romero)

How do we know?

“[B]ut if circumstances should at any time compel a government to form an army of any size, that army can never be a threat to the liberties of the people so long as there is a large body of citizens, even if inferior to an army in discipline and in the possession of arms, who are prepared to defend their own rights and the rights of their fellow citizens. It seems to me that this is the only substitute for a standing army that can be invented, and the best protection against it, if it exists at all.”

“A militia consists of all men physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense,” the Supreme Court said in United States v. Miller. “And then, usually, when they were called for service, these people had to have their own weapons, which they used at that time.”

However, the towns kept some military supplies in stores, but when British troops moved to remove them from Concord, they were met by already armed Continental troops in Lexington.

The whole concept of the Minutemen was that patriots could quickly come from their homes to where they needed to go when they needed to go.

Shame on you, General Galushkin. Shame on you, President Zelensky.

About the author: David Codrey is the recipient of many investigative/advocacy journalism awards for RKBA and a longtime gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of disarming citizens. In addition to being a regular contributor to Firearms News, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance , and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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