Armenia looking to loosen gun laws after military defeat

(Hrayr Badalyan/PAN Photo via AP)

Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, I suspected a lot of countries would re-evaluate their gun control laws. After all, the Ukrainians are still Ukrainians mostly because of armed resistance by not just their military, but civilians who took up arms to protect their homeland.

Yet Armenia has a somewhat different reason to look at loosening its own gun control regulations.

Armenia’s ruling party is seeking to significantly loosen the rules for civilians to obtain guns, proposing new legislation that they say will help the country better defend itself in the wake of the 2020 military defeat to Azerbaijan. But opponents of the bill worry that it could lead to an increase in gun-related crime in the country.

The bill, introduced by members of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s ruling Civil Contract party on April 18, would reduce the requirements for first-time buyers of rifles, eliminate limits on purchases of ammunition, and extend the term of validity for weapons licenses. It also adds some new regulations, forcing new licensees to pass an exam and raising the age for legal gun ownership from 18 to 21.

“This is very important in terms of increasing our defense capability as a nation and state, given the threats to our security,” Vigel Gabrielyan, a Civil Contract member of parliament and sponsor of the bill, told Eurasianet. “We need to give people who want it the opportunity to master the skills of handling weapons, especially since the demand for this in Armenian society is only growing after the 2020 war.”

Armenia’s military defeat in 2020, and the loss of much of the territory in and around Nagorno-Karabakh that it had controlled since the 1990s, has heightened Armenians’ fear for their security. Azerbaijani military positions have been set up closer to Armenian territory than they have been before, there have been several cross-border incursions, and Azerbaijan’s leadership continues to use threatening rhetoric against Armenians.

To me, the idea of conquering and annexing territory seems rather barbaric, like something we only read about in history books, but it’s still a thing and this is what Armenia dealt with and Ukraine still is dealing with.

It makes sense that they’d rethink gun regulations so people could learn how to use firearms more effectively. That’ll come in handy if hostilities begin yet again–the two countries previously fought a war that ended in 1994.

Unfortunately, this loosening of gun regulations comes with some increases in gun control, such as raising the minimum age for a gun license from 18 to 21.

Yet it seems fascinating to me that while we’re routinely told we should adopt European-style gun control, many European nations are starting to loosen their own gun rules amid military concerns.

Armenia has an enemy on its border. So does Ukraine. So do a lot of other countries.

We’re kind of spoiled here in the US. We’ve got an ally to the north and a borderline failed state to our south that couldn’t launch a military invasion if they wanted to. That leads many to believe something like this can’t happen here and that there’s no need to be ready.

The problem is that those who beat their swords into plowshares often end up plowing for those who don’t.