Guest Lecturer: Dr. Tatiana Borisova, History of Firearms Private Possession in Russia: What a Preliminary Comparison with the US Can Tell Us

Wed, December 25, 2014, 18:00-20:00

25 December 2014, 18:00 - 20:00 
 

The Berg Institute will host Dr. Tatiana Borisova from the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg for a lecture, titled:: History of Firearms Private Possession in Russia: What a Preliminary Comparison with the US Can Tell Us. Dr. Borisova is currently a visiting scholar at the Institute. The event will take at the Sonia Kossoy Conference Room (307), on the 3rd floor of the Faculty of Law Trubowicz Building.

William Blackstone in his Commentaries called the right of firearms private possession the fifth of “auxiliary subordinate rights of the subject, which serve principally as barriers to protect and maintain inviolate the three great and primary rights, of personal security, personal liberty, and private property”.

 

Needless to say, Russian history of the 19th - 20th centuries witnessed a chain of violations of the three primary rights, and their articulation itself might seem missing in the Russian context. Nevertheless, contrary to some superficial observations, empirical research proves that personal security, private property and personal liberty were present in some forms in Russia in the course of the 19th - 20th centuries and even earlier.

 

Indeed, a sketchy analysis of regulations assures us that the law of the Russian Empire and some periods of Soviet history favored a permissive rather than a restrictive approach in the sphere of regulation of private possession of firearms. Also in the Soviet and post-Soviet period the enforcement of anti-gun legislation has been weak. The regulation of gun possession is thus challenging to the traditional image of the oppressive Russian state.

 

The regulations changed radically in early Soviet Russia, when firearms possession was strongly attributed to ruling class, and the Bolshevik Party members got procedural privileges in firearms acquisition. At the same time, usage of firearms for hunting and sports was highly propagated and accessible for the masses.

 

The analytical framework of international scholarship of the private possession of firearms is overwhelmingly conceptualized within the Anglo-American constitutionalist tradition and the discourse of political rights, an approach that is often considered irrelevant and misleading for Russia. Usage of this framework for analysis of Russian firearms private possession is certainly a challenge. In Dr. Borisova’s talk she intends to demonstrate that the challenge can be beneficial, in the sense that confronting the constitutionalist framework can provide a more acute understanding of Russian law concepts and ideology.

 

Indeed, if right was missing in the black-letter and concept of Russian-Soviet law, what was the theoretical basis for providing a rather permissive, not restrictive, approach in the sphere of regulation of private possession of firearms?

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