Skip to comments.Part 1: Meet the Woman Working With the NRA and Fighting For Gun Rights in Russia
Posted on 05/06/2014 1:32:02 AM PDT by Kaslin
Editors note: This is part one of a two part series.
During the NRA Annual Meetings in Indianapolis two weekends ago, I had the pleasure of meeting the founder and president of The Right to Bear Arms, a pro-gun rights organization in Russia. After finally being approved for a visa just days before the meetings started, Maria Butina attended the annual NRA Women's Leadership Luncheon as a guest of former NRA President Sandy Froman and participated in general meetings over the weekend as a guest of former NRA President David Keene. I had to opportunity to sit down with Maria to talk about why she was there and to discuss her goals for the gun rights movement in Russia. She's working on everything from castle doctrine, gun safety programs for kids and shifting public opinion in a pro-gun direction.
MB: My organization is all Russian, public organization. Its called The Right to Bear Arms.
KP: What are you doing here at the NRA convention in America?
MB: We are friends with many, many organizations all over the world. We protect gun rights in Russia, and people who are gun owners and in a situation of self-defense. And we would like to know world experience, and it means that NRA, one of the most world famous and most important organizations and it means that we would like to be friends with NRA. And we invited them to our annual meeting, the third annual meeting in our life. We are a young organization. We are three years old. And we invited David Keene. He made a speech at our annual meeting. And so it's like an answer from one side. The next side is the life member of our organization. He is our Russian senator. His name is Senator Alexander Torshin. He is a life member of NRA too, and hes usually a participant of such events, and every annual meeting of NRA. But now the situation between (our) two countries is very difficult. And we have to go here together with Senator Torshin. He is a great gun lover, he supports our organization and hes a friend of the NRA.
KP: You talked about gun rights in Russia. What are the gun rights in Russia? Can you walk through a little bit what its like to be a gun owner there? What rights do you have? What rights dont you have? Its obviously very different from America.
MB: In Russia, many people think that in Russia there are no gun rights. Its not true. We have gun rights, but especially for hunting. So you could buy in Russia, according to the license from police, you could buy shotguns. Not more than five units of shotguns. You could buy air rifle, not more than five units. And you can buy special kind of guns, that I think only exist in Russia and a couple of countries like Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. We call it traumatic. Its a pistol with rubber bullets, you could carry it and you could only have two units per one license and thats all. Its very weak, not more than 91 jewels. And this is for sale difference. And you can have gauss guns, gauss pistols. Thats all. And if you have rifle or shotgun it should be semi-automatic. Machine guns are not allowed in Russia. Its very difficult to get a permit, a license, so you need to have medical certificate. You need to prove you use your gun safely, so have a special license. Its rather expensive to the courses to do it. Then you need to ask the police, they will check if you have a safe metal box for keeping your gun, and then they will make a decision. You will pay small tax; its like two dollars, not more, per one unit. And you will ask them to give you a license. It takes a month at least, and when the month ends you could be a gun owner. So you buy a gun, register your gun (with the) police, and you are a gun owner. Every five years you need to prove that your medical certificate is ok, and you need to prove that you use your gun safely. So you need to learn at courses again. So thats our gun rights. The main problem for Russia now is that its now allowed to have pistols. Real pistols. And its one of the goals of our organization. We try to explain to people that it's very important to have the best for self-defense gun, it's a pistol. We work with public opinion, and it changes. For three years we usually make special research to know how people, theyre pro-gun, theyre anti-gun. And three years ago it was not more than 13% of population of Russia who were pro-gun, now its 44.
KP: Why do you think it's changed?
MB: It depends on the knowledge of people. Mostly Russian people, they dont know they have a right for gun and for self-defense. When they know that, in Russia now, its five million people who are gun owners and more than six million units in their hands, and they do not do crime, they understood that everything is ok. And them and their opinion changed. Its what we do. And the third problem for Russia is now its problem with self-defense. People who are in self-defense cases, very often, our government tries to put them in prison. Its like Soviet system. If somebody was killed somebodys a killer. And we work, find such cases. We give these people lawyers and help them. Now we have a lot of cases in our organization all over Russia. When people were in prison and we prove they are innocent, they were in a situation of self-defense.
KP: So what about the American model do you think you can bring back to kind of help your organization grow and get your message out? As you mentioned, education is key to getting people to understand the importance of the issue.
MB: I know some problems from the NRA and from America that we would like to have in Russia. First is castle doctrine, it's very important and I have good news. Two weeks ago we passed in Russia castle doctrine. Now its allowed to protect ourselves at home. Of course we will do some special procedures more. And we need to make special, so our president need to sign this law. But (it is) the most difficult steps we made. So we collected one hundred thousand signatures to pass this law. We have such procedure in Russia to do it. And the most important castle doctrine laws are in the United States, of course. The second is how we work, and how the NRA works. How it works with people. I saw a couple of very interesting programs that I would like to share in Russia. For example, it's a program, eagle for kids [The NRAs Eddie Eagle Program]. Its great. I thought about it, and we discussed it with our members how to explain to children not to touch guns. And we thought that we need to works with parents, but NRA does (it) right. They work with children because parents have no chances to control children everywhere and every time. It means that it's a great idea, and I would like to do it in Russia. To work with small children in schools. And I hope that our government allow us to work with children at school because sometimes they dont like people who have guns, unfortunately.
Stay tuned for part two tomorrow...
Well, that’s great! Once she’s done in Russia, we could use some help with our gun rights, here in America.
I was struck when I once read a paean to the Second Amendment written by a Russian which discussed the history of the right to bear arms in Russia which contained the phrase “when we were free under the Tsars”. Possession of arms, both firearms and swords, was unregulated in the Russian Empire — unless you count Orthodox canon law which forbids those in major orders (deacons, priests and bishops) from bearing arms.
Someone must have mistranslated Luke 22:36 for them, where Jesus commanded the disciples to carry a sidearm. (Peter carried one.)
25 years ago, when the Berlin wall fell, I said: Wouldn’t it be ironic if some day Russia was a freer country than the United States.
We are a long way from that day, but it looks more and more possible.
When dad's life was interrupted by the Russian Revolution the order went forth to the army to assassinate the officers and come home. My maternal grandfather was a division commander. HIS men circled him and said that if the communists wanted HIM dead, they'd have to kill all of them first. This story was passed down through our family history for generations. I am the final repository. There will be no more. So I'm happy to have it reside here on FR. The first thing the new communist regime did was to confiscate the firearms of the citizenry.
Dad remembered that order just as his own father put the family aboard several ships headed for the USA. My dad missed his boat (the family was not traveling steerage either -- First class cabins) and took the next with his aunt. However, the boat he was supposed to be on SUNK and went down with all aboard. My father's family thought he and the aunt were dead until they turned up in New York a few months later. Wow. The family migrated to Miami, FL and pop graduated from Miami High in 1924 when it was durn near the only high school in Dade County. Then he went to MIT and graduated at the top of his engineering class while playing on the Polo team as well. All in all, working his way into ownership of two engineering firms, an American success story. Too bad he was taken by Alzheimer's before they ever really knew what it was. In the process he bankrupted both firms. So I was raised seeing both sides of life: Wealthy and poor.
The bottom line is that as the repository of the family history regarding communists and all things internal to the regime, like the KGB and the GRU and knowing that Putin is old school KGB. As such he is a cold, calculating S.O.B. who will stop at nothing to achieve his ultimate goal. In this case, it's got to be rebuilding the former USSR.
If he senses a weakness in his adversaries, he will drive straight ahead and dare them to stand up and oppose him. He knows in this case (Obama) that he has nothing to fear. Both politically and probably militarily. Our forces are drained and weakened and our POTUS is not only not rebuilding our might, he is further degrading it's effectiveness and power in favor of a socialist agenda. Putin probably commends this action. After all what is communism but socialism out of the barrel of a gun? A gun only the government can hold and point at the heads of the citizenry.
When a man such as Putin senses real strength, he can be diverted from his course but not ever stopped completely. He's smart enough to know that a POTUS like Reagan (or Cruz) will face him eyeball to eyeball and not flinch. I think he would treat Rand Paul a lot like Obama and I really LIKE Rand Paul! But given his stance on foreign policy, he falls in line with Putin retaining power and advancing his agenda. Make no mistake, folks. We are in a new Cold War that looks a lot like the old Cold War. That was the conflict I trained for and never got to pull a trigger, thank God. This was spy versus spy and some special forces thrown into the mix for good measure. It is and will be a shadow war. But I think, it's a war we can win or at least keep at status quo until a more definitive resolution can present itself.
Thanks for taking the time to write and post this for us to read.
You come from a line of very brave men and I know you are proud of that.
Many more Freepers now know more Russian history than they did before reading your post.
We should be ever mindful of Russia today——What’s the old saw—”trust but verify”?
Sadly, I’ve come to much the same conclusion.
In fact Russian laws and judicial practice are moving in a right direction for about a decade in terms of self-defence.
As for a gun rights it is a bumpy road. Russian politics regarding guns are highly populist and any mass fatal shooting makes a major setback, but gun right activists are actually active in bringing up an opposite stories of how guns are saving people and politicians are forced to react so it is mostly a one-step-backward, two-steps-forward thing.
Thanx for reminding me that this (FR) is the place to be...Bless you and yours......