(Sept. 27, 2016) In July 2016, the most recent amendments to the Russian Federal Law on Weapons entered into force. (Federal Law No. 227-FZ of July 3, 2016 on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation and the Repeal of Certain Legislative Acts (Provisions of Legal Acts) of the Russian Federation in Connection with the Adoption of the Federal Law on Troops of the National Guard of the Russian Federation, ROSSIISKAIA GAZETA (July 6, 2016) (official publication, in Russian).) These amendments establish new requirements for the registration, licensing, and storage of hunting, sporting, pneumatic, and gas weapons and for military and hunting knives.
The amendments make exhibiting and collecting weapons and ammunition in Russia subject to licensing; newly issued licenses are valid for a six-month period. (Federal Law No. 150-FZ on Weapons, art. 9, (consolidated version of July 6, 2016) (in Russian).) Licensing is also required for developing, producing, testing, storing, repairing, and disposing of civilian and service weapons and ammunition. (Id. art. 9(1).) Purchase of a license, which is issued for five years with the possibility of renewal, allows for the acquisition of up to five permitted weapons. (Id.)
Licensing requirements are extended by the amendments to cold-bladed weapons used for hunting game, firearms with limited destructive capacities, and air guns with a muzzle energy exceeding 7.5 joules that are used for hunting. (Id. art. 13.) Similar requirements are established for rifles and smooth-bore long-barrel weapons of self-defense, long guns for hunting, sporting long guns, and air guns and firearms of limited range that may or may not require carry permits. (Id.) For weapons purchased for collecting purposes only, storage permits are issued for an indefinite period. (Id.)
To obtain a license to purchase weapons, the new amendments require submission of proof of the non-use or possession in the past of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances. (Id.) Additionally, gun owners are required to submit a medical report indicating the absence of medical contraindications that would prohibit weapons possession and to pass a drug test every five years. (Id.) A similar medical report is required to obtain permits to store and use weapons given as awards to military officers. (Id. art. 20-1.) Another amendment requires authorized weapons and ammunition dealers to report all buyers to the local police agency on a monthly basis. (Id. art. 18.)
After this amending law was signed by the President of the Russian Federation, two different versions of it containing different provisions on the term of validity for licensing weapons used for self-defense purposes were simultaneously published in official sources. One version provides for a five-year, the other for a ten-year, period of license validity. Russian commentators have discussed various options for resolving this technical glitch; their proposals range from establishing the application procedure at the discretion of the court to having the next State Duma (the legislature, which was elected on September 18, 2016) reconsider the issue. (Victor Khamraev, Zakon ob Oruzhii Dal Osechku [The Law on Weapons Has Misfired], KOMMERSANT.RU (July 6, 2016).)
Prepared by Olena Yatsunska, foreign law consultant, under the supervision of Peter Roudik, Director of Legal Research.