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Illustration by Security Management

School Shooting in Russia Prompts Gun Control Order

Nine people were killed and dozens wounded yesterday in a mass shooting at a school in Kazan, Russia. A 19-year-old, Ilnaz Galyaviev, was detained as the suspected shooter.

Seven students died, as well as a teacher and another school employee, the Associated Press reports. Some students tried to escape by jumping from classroom windows, while others were locked inside their classrooms. Two children died after jumping from third-floor windows, according to the RIA news agency.

Russian media reported that the alleged gunman was a former student at the school who called himself “a god” on his Telegram messaging app account, promising to “kill a large amount of biomass.” 

Russian lawmaker Alexander Khinshtein said on Telegram that the suspect received a permit for his shotgun less than two weeks ago and that the school had no security aside from a panic button.

School shootings in Russia are rare. In 2018, a student at a school in Russian-annexed Crimea killed 19 people before taking his own life, NPR reports. Since 2014, more than 20 incidents involving weapons have been recorded in schools and colleges in Russia. In the United States, there were 30 school shootings within the first three months of 2021, according to Statista.

Russia’s laws on civilian gun ownership are strict, according to The Washington Post. To obtain a license for hunting and sport firearms, applicants must pass medical exams—including a psychiatric evaluation—and complete a course on safe handling of weapons. It is illegal for Russians to own guns that shoot in bursts or have magazines with more than a 10-cartidge capacity.

In response to yesterday’s shooting, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered gun controls to be tightened across the country. The gun used in the attack was allegedly a semi-automatic shotgun—popular among hunters and relatively cheap in Russia—that was licensed to Galyaviev. The Kremlin has ordered the Russian National Guard review the status of weapons that can be registered for hunting in Russia but are considered assault weapons elsewhere, the BBC reports.

Russian politicians say better data collection on gun owners and sales is needed, including a central database to alert officials if, for example, police reported that a gun owner was addicted to drugs or alcohol.

A January 2020 National Guard tally found that about 4 million Russians were legal owners of 6.6 million firearms.