Conflicts & War

Ukrainians torn over civilian access to weapons in wartime

By Luis Angel Reglero

Dnipro, Ukraine, Jun 7 (EFE).- The law in Ukraine allowing civilians to take up arms to fight the Russian invasion has become a subject of debate between people who believe it is necessary during wartime and those who fear it could bring forth negative side effects.

Some 60% of Ukrainians support the law, according to sources from the Ukrainian interior ministry, and it seems that people on the streets of the southeastern city of Dnipro are in favor, too.

“The Russians are committing many crimes not only against our soldiers but also against our women,” Vitaliy, who preferred only to give his first name, tells Efe.

“They are killing children, we need weapons to defend our families, our country,” he says.

But when asked what would happen after the war if many civilians were still armed, the 37-year-old hesitates as he says “it could be a problem, but now I wouldn’t know what to say.”

“There may be another war if criminal groups take advantage of that law to get hold of weapons. Civilians would have to return them” when the fighting against the Russians ends, Vitaliy adds.

When the war ends, civilians are expected to hand over their weapons to the police but some people think the law should remain in force even after that.

“It is better than nothing, for this war and for other things as well,” Vladyslava, 30, says. “It won’t be a problem after the war, people know what they have to do.”

Tymur agrees that arming civilians is necessary “to protect ourselves (…) always in a controlled way, with equal standards for all.”

The 28-year-old believes there will be no major issues when the war is over.

“Everyone will know how to act responsibly.

“It will be better for everyone, to have the ability to use them, always in accordance with the law.”

It is hard to find people like Oksana who are against the law.

“Weapons have to be only for the military and police, it scares me that there will be civilians who use them to commit crimes,” she says.

“It has to be under control. This is not suitable for many people,” she adds.

Vadym Denysenko, an advisor to the country’s interior minister, warned previously that weapons must be prevented from falling into the hands of people with a criminal record or who are not prepared mentally.

Meanwhile, spokesman for the ministry Denys Monastyrky stressed that thousands of weapons have been distributed in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24 and there have been no problems ever since.EFE


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