Baku, May 22 – More than two-thirds of Russian men and more than ten percent of Russian women say they know how to use a firearm, but three-quarters of them are opposed to unrestricted sales of guns in their country, according to the results of a new poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation.
According to the poll, only 17 percent of Russians own guns at the present time, a figure that increases to 25 percent among those with higher education and to 23 percent for those with higher incomes, younger people, and Muscovites, and a pattern that suggests gun ownership in Russia may increase over time (www.fom.ru/topics/3143.html).
But while many know how to shoot a gun, 74 percent said that they opposed the free sale of guns to the population, believing that such an arrangement would increase the number of murders (15 percent), lead to an outburst of violence (four percent), create disorders (four percent), or generally bring misfortune (two percent).
Many of those polled said that they did not believe Russians were ready for the free sale of guns because people are aggressive, unpredictable, lack experience in dealing with guns, or include too many alcoholics and drug addicts. And six percent said that there was no need for people to own guns at all.
Intriguingly, according to the report by the Public Opinion Foundation, two percent said that allowing more people to buy guns would lead “to the growth of corruption” because some Russians might use the weapons to extort more money than they would have been able to without a gun.
Those who favor the unrestricted sale of guns said that it would allow them to defend themselves and their families, that life is dangerous in Russia now, that there are too many “bandits” and they are armed better than the population at large, and that “in difficult moments” one can rely only on oneself.”
Only one percent of the total sample said that they favored the free sale of guns because “it is better that people purchase guns according to the law than illegally.”
Given this mix of attitudes, the foundation said, it is hardly surprising that most Russians oppose any relaxation on the sale of guns: 80 percent are certain that “such a step would lead to a growth in crime” but, as is the case in some other countries, four percent say that easier access to weapons would cut the crime rate by allowing law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.