The U.S. gun industry is shipping firearms to Ukraine for military and civilian defense against Russian invasion forces.
The National Shooting Sports Federation (NSSF), a Connecticut-based trade industry group, has instructed its more than 8,000 members on how to obtain an expedited U.S. export license to ship guns and ammunition “for use by Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
“This is an example of the importance of a strong and vibrant firearm industry,” spokesman Mark Oliva told The Washington Times in an email. “The same firearm manufacturers that produce arms to protect national freedom and safeguard our communities also produce firearms for self-defense, recreational shooting and hunting.”
The NSSF said the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington has requested donations of sniper rifles, pistols, smokeless Winchester rifles, ammunition, extra magazines and spare parts in several calibers.
The Ukrainian Embassy and U.S. Department of Commerce did not respond Monday to a request for comment.
But gunmakers said it’s not possible to publicize details of the process without endangering the supply chain.
Mike Farrell, president of Arizona-based Smart Firearms Training Devices, said he’s been discrete about shipping 100 laser-guided training weapons with target systems to help Ukraine train its soldiers.
“There’s not much we can do in the United States right now, but I wanted to do what I could,” Mr. Farrell said Monday. “There’s a lot we can learn about patriotism from the Ukrainians as they face down this massive Russian war machine.”
Unlike live-fire training, the laser-guided systems do not use a range or ammunition that might tip off Russian soldiers to their locations.
The company said its goal is to get the training rifles, training pistols and target systems to Ukrainian security forces by the end of April. To date, about half have arrived in Europe.
“The next month is going to decide the fate of Ukraine as an independent nation,” Mr. Farrell said. “I’ve spent quite a bit of time there and respect the people’s love of their country as they try to do something different in a dangerous part of the world.”
While some gunmakers are sending firearms to Ukrainian military forces, others are shipping directly to Ukrainian dealers for sale to civilian resistance fighters.
Adams Arms, a Florida-based company, said it had already sold more than 1,000 semi-automatic rifles to Ukrainian civilians through a business partner the firm worked with before Russia’s attack.
Now, it’s acquired a license to ship 2,500 more.
“While many women and children have left Ukraine, a lot of the men have stayed behind with local civilian defense groups and that’s what we envision they’ll be used for,” said Jason East, the company’s president.
A small company with 50 employees, Adams Arms will sell the rifles slightly above cost through its business partner, allowing them to cover production expenses.
The company is also raising money for Ukraine’s war effort by selling T-shirts that feature the emblem of the Ukrainian Border Guard Unit.
On Monday, it had raised about $9,000 from 900 sales and was planning to donate the money to the Ukrainian National Bank’s war funds later this week.
“We will continue to produce T-shirts as long as there’s demand from people wanting to donate and support Ukraine’s defense,” Mr. East said.
Rick Green, a Second Amendment advocate and former Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives, said Ukraine’s need for civilian as well as military weapons highlights the human right to self-defense.
“This is a right rooted in the ‘laws of nature and nature’s God,’ and the Ukrainian people desire to exercise these natural rights just as any free people should,” Mr. Green said. “I applaud American firearms companies that seek to supply Ukrainian citizens with the means to do so.”
In a statement emailed to The Times, the National Rifle Association said it also endorsed the efforts.
“The NRA and our members support the efforts of firearms and ammunition manufacturers helping the people of Ukraine,” the NRA told The Times in a statement. “Unfortunately, current law prohibits individuals and organizations who do not have the requisite permits from sending firearms and ammunition at this time.”