Newsletter: Ukraine Arms Civilians as Russia Invades

Russia has invaded its neighbor in the worst land war in Europe since World War II. The pictures we’re seeing on the news and through social media are horrific. Many are dying and Ukraine’s existence is under direct threat.

The Reload is not a foreign policy publication and I won’t pretend to be an expert in geopolitics. We will leave much of the reporting on the war to outlets with reporters on the ground. However, there are parts of this conflict that strike at the heart of what we cover.

Specifically, the Ukrainians have begun arming civilians and enshrining protections for self-defense into law. Not only have they formalized and liberalized the process of buying a gun in the country, but they’ve also begun handing out automatic weapons to residents of the besieged capital.

Anthony Constantini, in his first piece for The Reload, takes a look at what it could mean for the rest of Europe if Ukraine is successful at repelling the Russian invaders with civilian militias at the heart of their plan.

Back home in America, we saw dueling state preemption law changes. Utah is working to strengthen its law. Boulder, Colorado is looking to take advantage of the autonomy granted by the state legislature to pass strict new gun laws.

Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman takes a close look at those diverging strategies in a member-exclusive piece.

And we look at the latest on the concerted effort by gun-control groups to pressure President Joe Biden (D.) to take further unilateral action restricting guns. More groups are jumping in, but how likely are they to succeed?

Plus, Cam Edwards from Bearing Arms joins the podcast to talk about the Remington settlement.

A rack of AR-15s at SHOT Show 2022's range day
A rack of AR-15s at SHOT Show 2022’s range day / Stephen Gutowski

Ukraine Distributes 10,000 Automatic Rifles to Civilians as Capitol City Fights Russian Invasion
By Stephen Gutowski

The Ukrainian government is increasing its efforts to arm civilians as Russia’s attack intensifies.

The Interior Minister said 10,000 automatic rifles have been handed out to citizens of the capital city Kyiv on Thursday, according to a reporter with The Kyiv Independent. The distribution of arms happened over a matter of mere hours while the city was under siege from Russian airstrikes and paratrooper drops.

Click here to read the full story.

This photo was taken in Prague city in August 2019.We haven't given up. Ukrainians will never give up their freedom.
A sign posted in August 2019 in Prague encourages Ukrainians / Photo by Yura Khomitskyi on Unsplash

Ukraine Expands Civilian Gun Rights, Combat Training as Russia Invades
By Stephen Gutowski

The Ukrainian government is poised to loosen its strict gun laws in the face of the Russian onslaught.

The country’s parliament voted on Wednesday to advance a bill expanding civilian gun ownership. 274 of the country’s 450 elected representatives voted for the bill, according to local media outlet Ukrinform. The bill would formalize the country’s gun laws, allow more civilians to own and carry guns, and allow them to be used for self-defense in more places.

The authors argued the bill “is fully in the interests of the state and society” due to “existing threats and dangers for the citizens of Ukraine,” according to Canadian broadcaster CTV News.

Click here to read more.

Unloaded handguns sit on a table alongside ammunition
Unloaded handguns sit on a table alongside ammunition / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: What Ukraine’s Embrace of Gun Rights as Russia Attacks Could Mean for Europe
By Anthony Constantini

Ukraine has finally managed to do what eluded it for over thirty years: pass a law recognizing the right of civilian firearm ownership.

“Draft Law #5708 on the Right to Civilian Firearms” passed the Ukrainian Rada, or parliament, on its first reading on Wednesday.

Americans should take note, as the US gun-rights movement may have indirectly inspired it. But also because the Ukrainians are about to demonstrate to the world just how important the right to keep and bear arms truly is. The law’s timing could not be any more fortuitous. As Ukraine awaits a massive Russian invasion, their people may be forced to test the oft-repeated maxim: the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Click here to read the full analysis.

A woman examines a handgun at a display during the 2022 NRA Great American Outdoor Show
A woman examines a handgun at a display during the 2022 NRA Great American Outdoor Show / Stephen Gutowski

Utah Legislature Passes Enhanced Preemption Bill
By Jake Fogleman

As divergent approaches to local firearms regulation continue to take shape across the country, a newly passed bill in Utah seeks to strengthen the state’s role in setting gun laws.

The Utah State Senate voted 20-5 on Tuesday to pass Senate Bill 115. The bill seeks to boost Utah’s existing firearm preemption law by clarifying that the state legislature is the sole governing body that can regulate firearms and ammunition unless it explicitly states otherwise. The bill also creates an avenue for civil action against localities that attempt to enact their own gun restrictions.

“The individual right to keep and bear arms being a constitutionally protected right under Article I, Section 6 of the Utah Constitution and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Legislature finds the need to provide uniform civil and criminal firearm laws throughout the state and declares that the Legislature occupies the whole field of state regulation of firearms,” the bill reads.

Click here to read more.

An AR-15 built with an unserialized lower receiver made by Defense Distributed on display at SHOT Show 2022
An AR-15 built with an unserialized lower receiver made by Defense Distributed on display at SHOT Show 2022 / Stephen Gutowski

Boulder, Colorado Considers Aggressive Local Gun Control in Wake of Preemption Repeal
By Jake Fogleman

Looking to take advantage of their newly granted authority, officials in the city of Boulder, Colorado are prepared to move full steam ahead on what could become the strictest gun laws in the state.

At a Boulder City Council study session meeting earlier this month, members of the council gave the green light to officially consider a sweeping package of new local gun control ordinances. They would do everything from prohibiting open carry, severely limiting locations available for licensed concealed carry, requiring a 10-day waiting period for licensed gun sales, and reinstating the city’s “assault weapons” and magazine bans.

Click here to continue reading.

Four Handguns / Jake Fogleman
Four Handguns / Jake Fogleman

Analysis: The Preemption Fight Heats Up [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

Two developments this month saw the trend of diverging strategies over preemption reach new ground.

As the debate over the local control of gun laws has grown more prominent in recent years, a partisan split is emerging in how different states have responded. Blue states have taken steps to weaken, or even repeal, state control of gun laws. Red states have started to introduce laws strengthening state control over matters of gun regulation.

Colorado is an example of the first approach. In the 2021 legislative session, it became the first state with a firearm preemption statute to repeal it outright. The replacement law now provides local and municipal governments the ability to pass any firearm restriction, provided it is not less restrictive than state law. Since then, the city of Denver has been able to pass a “ghost gun” ban, but other cities have been hesitant to take full advantage of their new discretion. That is until now.

If you’re already a Reload member, click here to read full analysis. If not, make sure you pick up a membership today! Your purchase will help fund our pursuit of sober, serious firearms reporting and analysis. It’ll also get you exclusive access to dozens of pieces like this one.

Giffords Homepage / Screenshot
Giffords Homepage / Screenshot

Giffords, Brady Amp Up Pressure on Biden
By Jake Fogleman

The campaign to push President Joe Biden (D.) to take more unilateral action on guns has expanded with a more extensive list of demands and the support of major national groups.

A coalition of 43 gun-control groups sent an open letter to the Biden Administration on Thursday in a renewed effort to see the President take immediate executive action on guns. The letter included the support of some of the most prominent national gun control organizations, including Brady and Giffords.

“The Administration can, and must, do more in 2022 or potentially face an even more dramatic increase in gun violence than we saw these past years,” the letter reads. “We cannot afford to wait for a stagnated Congress to take action; instead, we implore your Administration to use the authority of the office to reverse this deadly trend.”

Click to read more.

Joe Biden delivers remarks about Afghanistan on August 16, 2021
Joe Biden delivers remarks about Afghanistan on August 16, 2021 / screenshot

Analysis: Gun-Control Groups’ Pressure Campaign on Biden Unlikely to Bear Fruit [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

Gun-control groups are not happy with the President.

Shortly after President Joe Biden’s (D.) remarks on the anniversary of the 2018 Parkland shooting on Monday, a coalition of groups slammed him for what they say is a lack of significant action on gun-control policy from the President. Leading the charge were members of the group March for Our Lives. Alongside other organizations in the gun-control space, they have begun to publicly pressure President Biden to do more to address gun violence.

But their strategy is unlikely to bear fruit.

If you’re already a Reload member, click here to read full analysis. If not, make sure you pick up a membership today! Your purchase will help fund our pursuit of sober, serious firearms reporting and analysis. It’ll also get you exclusive access to dozens of pieces like this one.

Podcast: Cam Edwards on How Bad the Sandy Hook Settlement is for the Gun Industry
By Stephen Gutowski

Insurers for the defunct Remington Outdoor Company paid out a $73 million settlement to families of the Sandy Hook victims. It was the first time any gun company, even a bankrupt and dismantled one, has ever paid money to plaintiffs who claimed they were at least partially responsible for the criminal acts of a third party. It’s an unprecedented situation that raises a ton of questions.

That’s why I brought on one of the best gun writers out there: Bearing Arms editor Cam Edwards.

Cam and I go through the 6-year timeline of the case and talk about how we got to this settlement. The case was filed in 2015 with three different claims for how Remington was liable for the actions of the shooter. Two of those arguments dealt with how selling the AR-15, the most popular rifle in America, to civilians was unacceptable because the plaintiffs view them as “weapons of war.” Those claims were tossed by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

However, the same court allowed the third claim that Remington’s advertising violated Connecticut law and contributed to the lethality of the attack to move forward. The United States Supreme Court declined to intervene after that and Remington Outdoor Company filed for bankruptcy a few months later. That put the defunct company’s insurers in charge of the case and they moved to settle almost immediately after that.

The nature of the plaintiffs’ argument combined with a lack of evidence the shooter or his mother (who actually bought the gun) ever saw the advertising makes it difficult to understand the insurers’ decision. I’ve offered up some explanation for it, but Cam had some additional insights I’d never thought of before.

He noted that the recent payouts to the Parkland and Sutherland Springs shooting victims may have played into the insurers’ calculous. Those cases saw totals over the $100 million mark. Plus, a jury could be sympathetic to the victims and try to hold Remington accountable for what happened since it’s difficult to find anyone else to hold responsible.

At the same time, Cam said the merits of the case seemed weak and people aren’t inclined to blame a company when somebody uses their product to commit a crime.

We also predicted how the settlement might impact the industry as a whole. Cam said insurance rates may go up and the success of the plaintiffs could inspire similar suits. However, he noted these kinds of suits have been going for decades already and the settlement did not set any kind of binding legal precedent.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss Beto O’Rourke’s latest zig-zag on gun confiscation.

You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here.

You can also watch the video podcast on our YouTube Channel.


Outside The Reload

Vermont governor vetoes bill to close ‘Charleston Loophole’ | AP News | By Wilson Ring

Wisconsin assembly approves bill limiting liability for firearm manufacturers | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | By Molly Beck

House OKs bill to protect Idaho gun makers, carriers during emergencies | AP News | By Keith Ridler

Study claims “Stand Your Ground” laws linked to higher homicide rates | Bearing Arms | By Cam Edwards

Indiana Senate Committee Guts Permitless Carry Bill | Indianapolis Star | By Kaitlin Lange

That’s it for this week in guns.

If you want to hear my analysis of these stories and more, make sure you grab a Reload membership to get the exclusive analysis newsletter every Sunday!

I’ll see you all next week.

Stephen Gutowski
The Reload

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019


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