‘Gun Regulation and Policing in Post-Soviet Georgia’

Prof Matt Light (University of Toronto), will give a presentation entitled ‘Gun Regulation and Policing in Post-Soviet Georgia’ (this event is co-sponsored by SCCJR, SIPR and the Centre for Central and Eastern European Studies at University of Glasgow).

Abstract: The post-Soviet Republic of Georgia features relatively lenient policies on possession of handguns. Citizens may obtain a license to keep such weapons at home for self-defence, subject to rules on safe storage and periodic inspection of privately owned handguns. This policy outcome is surprising for several reasons. Georgian policy strongly diverges from the highly restrictive policies on gun ownership that were in force during the Soviet period, and which persist to this day in neighbouring post-Soviet states. Moreover, given that post-Soviet Georgia went through a long period of political and social turmoil in which gun violence was rampant, one might have expected more stringent policies to be enacted. I review several possible explanations for Georgia’s unusual gun policy trajectory, ideological (the libertarian attitudes of Georgian legislators in the former ruling party), pragmatic (the difficulty of disarming the population), and social-cultural (public and elite assumptions about the role of weapons in society and their potential threat to public order). Contact: sarah.armstrong@glasgow.ac.uk