Alternate History

Gun politics in the Soviet Union (Right to Bear Arms)

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Gun politics in the Soviet Union refer to the firearms legislation in the Union of Soviet States. Post-communist Soviet gun laws are known to be moderately restrictive, while firearms are federally controlled, they are accessible. 

Russian citizens can own firearms for hunting, sport-shooting, pest-control, self-defense and collecting. Currently, the firearms that are legal in Russia include handguns, and any rifle that is not a military-style assault rifle, such as AK-47s, AR-15s or FN-FALs. 

While no license is required to purchase a firearm, first-time buyers must pass through a background check, and attend firearms safety classes. Firearms are also required to be registered with the Soviet National Federal Police. A Public Carry Permit is required to carry firearms in public, either hunting or self-defense. Separate licenses exist for both.

Sport-shooting and hunting are two very popular activities in the Soviet Union. Out of a population of approximately 110,000,000 people, there are 35,340,900 registered firearms, and 4,041,000 Public Carry permits according to a 2015 estimate. The Soviet Union ranks one of the highest gun-owning nations in Eastern Europe, joining the Union of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria as it is a common part of Slavic heritage to own firearms.

The main gun-rights organization in Russia are the Motherland Rifle Coalition and the Soviet National Shooters Organization. Other popular organization include the Smoothbore Federation and the Hunters and Fishers Association.


Gun culture was an essential part of Russian life, back to the days of Imperial Russia - especially in the Ural Mountains region. Guns were used primarily for hunting. 

During the Russian Civil War, guns were embraced by both the Communists and the Royalists. Vladimir Lenin supported the right to bear arms in order to prevent a dictatorship. However, during the rule of Joseph Stalin, he enacted a strict gun control system, especially in the Ukrainian SSR.

During the first Soviet-era, guns were owned illegally since they remained outlawed until 1992, when guns were re-legalized under strict regulations.

In 1992 under President Mikhail Gorbachev, Russian citizens could only own smooth-bore and double-barreled shotguns for hunting, pest-control and target-shooting only. Handguns were limited to retired army veterans, police officers and other with a military or law enforcement background. 

Under the presidency of Vladimir Putin in 2000, handguns were legalized for ordinary citizens, under strict-licensing. Carry Permits were issued for rifles and shotguns, only for hunting. 

As a result of shootings and kidnappings carried out by Islamists thay ravaged the Soviet Union in 2010-2011, the Soviet Parliament enacted Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws. It also called for changes and liberalizing of gun laws in the country. Law enforcement and military began to host training and shooting events and classes for Soviet citizens. On June 6, 2011, under the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev, self-defense with firearms, was finally legalized in the Federation, and Public Carry Permits were created for citizens wishing to carry loaded firearms in the public for self-defense and new set of regulations were made. A number of non-military firearms and shotguns were also legalized in the Soviet, including pump-action and lever-action shotguns.

Afterward, the Soviet police forces noticed a huge decrease in terrorist attacks in the country, and often reported being called to incidents in which a home owner used a firearm to defend themselves.

Muslim groups in the Soviet Union and abroad feared that this move would encourage anti-Islamic sentiments in the country. Many filed petitions to the Soviet Parliament for an overturn of these laws, which proved to be politically suicidal.

Modern-day regulations


No license is required to purchase a firearm, though there are still requirements. In order to purchase a firearm, a citizen must be 18 years of age. They must also pass a background check for any criminal history and mental illnesses. They must also pass a six-hour firearms safety course, and earn a certificate which they must present to a gun dealer, and may therefore, purchase a firearm. All of these documents, along a driver license, passport or federal identification card, must be presented to the gun dealer. All handguns must be registered with the  Soviet National Federal Police, regular long-guns require no registration. Military-style firearms are rarely allowed to civilians, with the exception of law enforcement, military or retired individuals with past careers and experience in those two groups. It is up the gun dealer's discretion of whether to accept or reject a sale if he or she feels that the buyer is a danger to public safety, even through a background check has been presented.

Public carry regulations

In order to carry a firearm in public, a citizen must apply for a Public Carry Permit (Russian: Общественный Проведение Разрешение). A person must state a legal reason for doing so, either for hunting or for self-defense. A Public Carry Permit is for 7 years, and must be renewed afterward. Failure to do so will result in revocation of license, as well as the need to re-apply for a new license. That person won't get their firearms confiscated, but will simply be prohibited from carrying them in public.

Storage and transportation laws

When not in use, firearms must be properly stored. The SNFP stated that firearms must either be unloaded and have trigger-locks to make them inoperable. They can however, be loaded but must be properly locked in a vault, gun case or a gun closet if being used for self-defense. When transporting to a gun range, a firearm must be locked in a case, or separate from the ammunition. 

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