Residents of Abkhazia allowed to bear arms
Weapons possession has been legalised in Abkhazia.
On March 1, the law on weapons came into force. Now all capable citizens can buy, register and legally own them.
In Abkhazia, almost everyone already has weapons, but formally, ordinary citizens have still been prohibited from having them.
Civilian weapons (hunting and sporting) can be officially owned from the age of 18, long-barreled weapons from the age of 21, and pistols and revolvers from the age of 27.
About the current situation with weapons in Abkhazia, why it became necessary to adopt a new law and what it will change – one of the authors and the main initiator of the bill, chairman of the parliamentary committee on defense and national security, Ilya Gunia, told JAMnews in an interview.
Why a new law was needed
When I got here [ed. to parliament], there was already such a bill. It was even adopted in the first reading by the last convocation.
But it did not exactly regulate the existing situation, but simply forbade it. That is, it said – you can’t, and yet you can. It turned out that weapons can be carried by law enforcement officers, representatives of the judiciary, prosecutors, deputies, the presidential administration. That is, roughly speaking, officials.
All 30 years of the post-war period Abkhazia has been armed. We have weapons in every home, and we perfectly understand this. The problem is that, according to the law, we shouldn’t have these weapons, but we do.
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Knowing what weapons were in their hands, the law enforcement agencies, more often than not, detaining certain individuals, simply searched the house. That is, there is no need to look for anything here, no evidence base is needed.
I understand that our main strength is the reserve. Everyone has weapons and this is the only thing that Abkhazia can hope for in the event of any hostilities. It is an unaffordable luxury to confiscate these weapons in our time. Therefore, it was necessary to streamline.
How it will work
When there is no gun control, the lines blur between the criminal and the law-abiding citizen with a gun. That is, you can take any weapon, go to commit a crime, and the weapon is not counted anywhere.
If at one time we entrusted people with their homeland to defend, then the state has the right to entrust them with this weapon. Moreover, carry this weapon. But on condition. And conditions are the main thing in our law.
One of the conditions is, first of all, the registration of weapons. Any weapon has its own identification number, characteristics, bullet and cartridge case have their own mark. And the registration of weapons leads to the fact that all this will be installed. We understand that fewer crimes will occur with registered weapons. And even if they are, then this cartridge case and a bullet found on the street will always have an owner.
After coming into force within three months, the authorized body [Cabinet of Ministers of Abkhazia] should develop by-laws. That is, the types of licenses, how to obtain this license, the creation of a bullet casing – that is, to develop a mechanism.
The law says what to do, but where to go for this, how to get there, what form of documents is needed, what commission will check whether you are a drug addict, whether you are mentally healthy or not.
Why do you need a weapon at all
First of all, it is protection against any encroachment. Our law gives such a right to protect one’s honor, dignity and life. And by the way, we are not the only ones. The American constitution practically obliges to have a weapon. And a person has the right to protect his own life.
The law enforcement agencies do not have to protect me, I have the right to defend myself. We live in such a country, we see what kind of robberies, what attacks. And if you use a weapon, you become guilty. We often do not catch a bandit, but they will catch you who shot this bandit.
At the same time, one must understand that I am talking specifically about protection. This does not mean that someone scolded you, but you took and shot him. I want to have a weapon legally. I want to be able to defend both my home and my country. Weapons are generally a specific culture.
About weapons and the Abkhaz mentality
We have a huge amount of weapons on hand, despite the ban [in force before the new law came into force].
We see how young people 18-25 years old walk with pistols in their bosoms. At the same time, we have very few crimes committed with weapons. Do you know what it says? About the love of weapons. And about the culture that exists.
We studied the world experience when we worked on the law. That is, we looked at the principle on which the legislators act in terms of weapons. This is the mentality as well. In countries where there is a very large number of domestic quarrels and murders on domestic grounds, there are no weapons at all, they are not given. This is also a mentality. A person can drink and harm his family. We have very few such cases. They are, of course, but if you take them in percentage terms, then there are very few of them.
Usually a person, I am talking now about a respectable adequate citizen who acquires a weapon, does not set himself the goal of killing someone. Only a few factors can induce him to acquire a weapon – love for the weapon itself, and we have it in the Caucasus, love for the Motherland and the desire to defend oneself if something happens. Here I have a weapon. And I very rarely carry it with me. Although I have permission to wear it. But I have no such need. It’s the same choice. And even with a permit, you don’t have to carry a weapon with you.
In peacetime, I never had to use it. I have never brought the situation to this point. In general, I think that we are a small country, and we should not use weapons left and right. I also want to point out that the law is always written for people who are law-abiding. But there are also those to whom the law is not written. Should people have protection from them? I think it is necessary. And the one who breaks the law must understand that the person on the contrary can defend himself and shoot at the criminal.
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