Ukrainians rush to buy rifles, pistols as police relax rules

Video producer Yuri Futalo took a picture with this dog as Russia continued its invasion of Ukraine
Video producer Yuri Futalo poses for a photo with his dog as he collects documents needed to purchase a gun as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Lviv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022 REUTERS / Natalie Thomas

March 1, 2022

By Andrew RC Marshall

LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – As Russian missiles hit targets in eastern Ukraine, combat-aged men queued for hours outside gun shops in the western city of Lviv this Tuesday to buy shotguns and handguns to protect their community.

“I could see that Russia wasn’t going to stop, so I had to stop them,” said Andrew Muzyka, a web developer who waited with dozens of men outside a gun store near the medical university. Lviv, said.

Inside, the men were given basic instructions on how to operate a gun, then sought further approval from the police before being allowed to purchase one. Most models cost hundreds of dollars.

Nearly a week since the Russian military’s invasion of Ukraine, they have failed to capture a major city after encountering fiercer resistance than they expected.

Some experts have warned that Russia will now rely on a merciless bombardment of built-up areas to weaken Ukraine’s resistance.

On Sunday, Lviv police announced that the procedure for purchasing such weapons had been simplified. Muzkyka says a process that used to take two or three weeks can be completed in two or three days.

He said he thanked other countries for their support but knew they would not send troops to fight in Ukraine. “If we can’t save ourselves, no one can,” he said.

The shutters at another Lviv gun store were closed, but a man in military uniform was distributing handguns from the side door.

Among those waiting was Oleh Lekhush, who was from Stebnyk, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) away. He said that the 500 people in his town’s civil defense force only had about 20 firearms.

Lekhush said he runs a restaurant business and has no military experience. “But when tensions started at the border, I started to prepare,” he said. “Unfortunately, the only thing I don’t do is buy weapons. But I hope to achieve it as soon as possible.”

Lekhush said he would buy whatever gun he was offered and was willing to spend up to $2,000.

Yuri Futalo, a video producer, holds his documents in one hand and the leash of a Vizsla terrier named Terra in the other.

“I was going to get a gun for hunting – the inaugural season will begin soon – but now it is a more pressing situation,” he said. “So I’m trying to get it done as fast as I can, hopefully tomorrow.”

If the Russians arrive, Futalo said he will not hesitate to protect his loved ones, but hopes the war will end soon.

“Better go duck hunting,” he said.

(Reporting by Andrew RC Marshall; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Bobby Allyn

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