Sometimes you just have to go out and look at the stars. Sure, you could do that to relax, but right now we need to give the heavens a quick check to see if the Earth has been sucked through a wormhole and into an alternate universe.
Why? Because it’s sure looking like we’re in a some kind of bizarro world where the authoritarian left loves guns. Check this out that’s making its way around the Twitterverse . . .
In the space of just a few years, Occupy Democrats went from “no onne needs an AR-15” to “Ukraine is handing out guns and we’re all about it!” Before you think this a fluke, here’s another recent example:
BREAKING: A pizza shop owner in Kyiv is giving out free pizzas to any Ukrainian who shows that they have a gun to fight the Russian invaders with. RT IF YOU STAND WITH UKRAINE!
— Occupy Democrats (@OccupyDemocrats) February 25, 2022
If you or I carry a gun into a restaurant, we’re paranoid wackos. Maybe even insurrectionists. Because all gun owners are just itching for Donald Trump to assume his rightful place as dictator. But, if you’re far away from America and you’re fighting an invading force, different rules apparently apply. Guns are now good.
But Seriously, Though . . .
As fun as it is to make fun of twits like Occupy Democrats right now, it’s important to point out why this is happening and find something useful we can learn from it.
First, it’s important to point out that Ukraine’s gun laws aren’t as strict as most of Europe, but they’re nowhere near as gun-friendly as we enjoy here in the United States. Before the current conflict, a “may issue” license was required for all gun ownership, meaning that only people the government liked could get permission.
At age 18, you could get a license for an air rifle. At 21, you can get a smooth-bore gun. At age 25, rifles with a maximum magazine capacity of ten rounds are allowed. All guns must be locked up and unloaded when not at the range, even in people’s homes.
Things changed a lot starting last year, though. Reserve forces grew and reactivated as the country faced a growing threat from Russia. In other words, Ukrainian civilian gun ownership started to appear in the American media, but most of the people shown with rifles were actually reservists or otherwise working for the military in some capacity.
It was only after the invasion that things suddenly changed for civilian gun ownership. On February 23rd, a declaration of emergency and a quick change to the law allowed civilians to carry firearms they owned for personal defense, both inside and outside their homes. Next, Ukraine’s forces started handing out guns to civilians who didn’t have their own, with an estimated 18,000 rifles delivered as of the 25th.
How This Is Helpful, And How It Isn’t
Like the United States, Ukraine has the benefit of a large number of experienced combat veterans. Past and ongoing conflicts with Russia and Russian-speaking separatist forces haven’t given the country much of a break. While many of them have moved on and taken up other careers, Ukraine was able to call many of them back into service, while others volunteered for it. Handing out guns to these “civilians” isn’t what it sounds like at first glance, and has proven to be extremely helpful at combating the Russian advance.
But, we know that it wasn’t just combat veterans who received the rifles and ammunition. Some really were civilians in the fullest sense of the word, with no combat or military experience before this week. A person with a rifle, even inexperienced, can do some good, but it can’t do nearly as much good as someone with even a little training. Ukraine’s military knows this, and they’re reportedly trying to train these inexperienced civilians as quickly as possible.
In the end, Occupy Democrats proves that they really don’t know as much as they think they do (as usual). Instead of being a serious force multiplier, arming civilians proves to be a big chore with less bang for the buck than many think. Sure, it’s better than nothing (which is basically what they are getting from Biden), but it’s nowhere near what it could be if there had been some foresight.
If anything, other countries (like Taiwan, Korea, and Japan) should be looking at Ukraine and rethinking their defensive strategy. America probably isn’t going to be there to help like they’d hoped when things go down. Instead of trying to arm civilians at the last minute after the situation goes sideways, they should be actively working to get their civilian populations at least a little bit of training now. Before a crisis happens.
That, however, requires trusting the population and respecting their right to the tools of armed self defense. And that’s a step many governments aren’t willing to take.