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American Gun Makers Are Helping Ukrainians Fight Back Against Putin

American Gun Makers Are Helping Ukrainians Fight Back Against Putin

American gun makers from all over the country are putting their inventory to more noble use in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s globally unpopular invasion of Ukraine.

The Associated Press profiled several different U.S. gun manufacturers and distributors that have been shipping semi-automatic rifles and other weapons to Ukrainian citizens fighting off Putin’s army. Florida’s KelTec found themselves with a $200,000 surplus after a longtime customer in Ukraine suddenly went silent during Putin’s invasion, and decided to send those 400 guns to the resistance fighters. “The American people want to do something,” said KelTec’s owner, Adrian Kellgren, who’s also a former U.S. Navy pilot. “We enjoy our freedoms, we cherish those things. And when we see a group of people out there getting hammered like this, it’s heartbreaking.”

As Congress debated whether to send more advanced weapons and defense systems to Ukraine earlier this week, workers at KelTec’s warehouse forklifted four plastic-wrapped pallets containing their 9 mm foldable rifles for delivery to an undisclosed NATO-run facility. From there, the shipment’s new recipient, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, will be responsible for smuggling the weapons into the war zone.

 

 

KelTec’s donation is just one high-profile example of Americans collecting guns, ammunition, body armor, helmets, and other tactical gear in response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s promise to arm his citizens. Unfortunately, similar grassroots efforts by others have been held up by their inexperience with the complex regulations that govern the international shipment of such dangerous equipment. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis kicked off a campaign last week to ask police and sheriff’s departments to donate surplus ballistic helmets and other equipment. Conversely, one New York City nonprofit leading an effort to collect tactical gear had 400 bulletproof vests stolen before they could be shipped overseas.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group for firearms manufacturers, distributed step-by-step instructions this week to its more than 8,000 members on how to apply for an expedited export license. They also provided a list of specific sniper rifles, pistols, and ammo requested by Ukraine’s Embassy in Washington. While rifles are no match for Putin’s firepower of fighter jets and cluster bombs, they can play an important role if Russian soldiers are engaging in street combat.

Another issue is the credible threat from Putin that anyone sending aid to Ukraine will be seen as enemies, opening themselves up to retaliatory attacks from Russia’s military.

 

 

 

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