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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police to Announce Tear Gas Rules

Against a background of rising crime rates and popular outcry for the right to bear arms, the Russian government is about to launch a massive program to legalize guns that fire tear gas.

New regulations are expected to be announced as early as Friday that would enable Russians, for the first time, legally to carry guns that fire tear-gas bullets, according to Colonel Nikolai Skolozup, license director for the Interior Ministry.

Although details are still being worked out, he said the new rules would include requirements for any Russian wishing to own a gas gun to undergo training with the local police.

After passing the training course, would-be gas gun owners would then have to register their weapons with local police districts, said Skolozup.

"The ministry will order the police districts to organize the training programs", Skolozup said, adding that it is still unclear how many people are expected to take the courses and what the courses will teach. It will still be illegal, however, for foreigners to own gas guns under any circumstances, Skolozup said.

Many Russians already carry gas guns to protect themselves. President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree to legalize them last November, but possession of the weapons has remained illegal pending the new Interior Ministry regulations.

The regulations and training programs are set in a context of escalating violence. The number of armed crimes jumped 100 percent from 1991 to 1992, according to official statistics. During the same time period, commercial robberies doubled and the number of crimes registered- 2 million in 1992 - rose 28 percent from 1991.

Some political groups and unions are demanding further legalization of weapons. The Independent Miner's Union, for example - whose 1989 strikes were instrumental in snowballing the reform process - is demanding that the government legalize gas guns as soon as possible. They want miners to be able to form "vigilante groups" to protect themselves, said Alexander Sergeyev, president of the miner's union in Russia.

Vasily Glukharev, an emergency room doctor at the Sklifasovsky Institute hospital, said that he also favors legalizing gas guns. Although he said he witnesses the horrors of gunshot wounds every day, he would like to see all handguns made more legally accessible.

In the Sklifasovsky Institute, Glukharev said gun-shot victims have increased from two to three a week to at least two a night, - and sometimes up to 15 each night - in the past year.

"It seems like we're watching a mafia thriller", Glukharev said. "But people need to be able to buy weapons. The mafia have had their rifles and pistols for a long time. Because the police aren't able to protect everybody, we need to be able to protect ourselves".