As Russia continues to threaten a full-scale military invasion, the Ukrainian parliament on Wednesday approved a draft law giving citizens permission to carry firearms and act in self-defense — and within hours, gun stores were bustling.
Reuters reported that the draft measure was approved on "the first reading."
Its authors reportedly stated in a note that "the adoption of this law is fully in the interests of the state and society," adding that the law is needed due to "existing threats and dangers for the citizens of Ukraine."
The move comes only days after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered "peacekeeping" troops to the Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in southeastern Ukraine. Onlookers, including President Joe Biden, called the brazen maneuver the beginning of an invasion.
Russia has been massing troops on its border with Ukraine for weeks and has recently begun threatening war while continually insisting there are no invasion plans. But as of Wednesday, as many as 80% of Russia's approximately 150,000 stationed troops now appear to be in ready position, a senior U.S. defense official warned, according to the Hill.
The imminent threat of a large-scale assault has prompted Ukraine's government to issue a 30-day state of emergency, under which the Eastern European country has begun calling up military reservists and has drafted the measure to allow ordinary civilians to carry firearms.
Ukrainians reportedly responded to the draft law by descending en masse on gun stores. The Guardian reported Wednesday that the threat of attack on Kyiv has caused "an unprecedented rush to buy arms."
Gun shops are reportedly experiencing long lines already as Ukrainian citizens bolt to purchase guns, ammunition, and sniper rifles. Some weapons, such as the AR-10 and AR-15, have already sold out in gun stores.
"Of course, I’m worried about the situation," one Ukrainian told the news outlet, speaking from the basement of a gun store in central Kyiv. "I’m hoping for the best but preparing for everything."
Another citizen said, "I’ve bought two sniper complexes with good optics. I’ve also ordered a drone on Amazon. It hasn’t turned up yet."
Armed up, he felt bullish about his country's chances against an occupying Russian force.
"We can win against Russia. This isn’t 2014," he said. "We have heavy weapons, thanks to U.S. and U.K. If they come, we will shoot at them from every window."