Ukrainian gun-rights advocates are searching for greater support from American gun owners two months into their fight against Russia’s invasion.
Maryan Zablotskyy, a member of Urakaine’s legislature, visited Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to rally support for his country’s fight. He met with gun-rights activists and Capitol Hill insiders, according to The Washington Times. He said he’s hoping to cultivate relationships with people who can help arm his countrymen.
“I want to work more closely with the American government and gun owners so that maybe some of them can share their weapons to Ukrainians, at least to the regions that have been most affected by violence,” Zablotskyy told the paper.
He was also looking for advice on reforming Ukraine’s gun laws to make it easier for civilians to own guns. The country’s legislature passed a law expanding access to firearms and enshrining a right to self-defense in the immediate lead-up to the invasion. As Russian tanks began to roll into the country, the government handed out rifles en mass to any civilians willing to take up arms.
Even Ukrainian lawmakers began taking up arms when the capital city of Kyiv was threatened.
Still, Zablotskyy estimated only about two percent of Ukrainians own guns, and most of those are not rifles useful for resisting an invading army. He hopes to bring more rifles from the United States into the country. He also said the gun laws remain too strict.
“I received a firearm myself in Ukraine, but again, it was stipulated that after ten days or the war ends, I have to surrender it back to the government,” he told The Times.
He said there is now “overwhelming support” for expanding gun rights in the wake of the invasion. Ukrainians have mobilized hundreds of thousands of volunteer fighters to bolster their forces since the war began. Armed civilians have played a significant role in key fights throughout the country, including defending a strategically-important bridge town outside the capital.
Zablotskyy argued the war crimes carried out by Russian soldiers against civilians in Bucha, Ukraine would have been impossible if the population had been armed.
“I’m pretty sure that no massacre would ever have happened if residents of Bucha had firearms,” he told the paper. “They had zero. So, I want to arm those regions that have been most affected who understand the need for arms.”