Not all the news out of the Soviet Union is bad.
The word from Red Square is that the Russian people can now purchase guns as easily as Americans - meaning there will be as many shootouts there as there are here.Fyodor Dostievsky, president of the National Russian Roulette Cooperative (the equivalent of our National Rifle Association), is touring the United States as a guest of the Ricochet Rifle Clubs of America.
On a rifle range in Virginia, he told me, "Guns don't kill Commies. People kill Commies."
"Right you are," I said. "Is the USSR's great interest in guns due to perestroika?"
"It didn't hurt. Russians never dreamed that when democracy came, Gorbachev would throw in guns as a bonus. We even had a shooting in front of Lenin's tomb the other day."
"Did anyone get hurt?"
"Not really. Most Soviet gun owners still can't aim straight."
"Will the incident bring about anti-gun legislation in the USSR?"
"It can't because ownership of guns is part of the Soviet constitution."
"Who says so?" I asked.
"Karl Marx. It's in `Das Kapital.' The Politburo won't enact any law that prevents the secret police from bearing arms."
"I see. Are you meeting with many gun lovers in this country?"
"All I can. The National Rifle Association members believe the only thing that can save our country is an armed population. The NRA has been very kind. Its people have offered us Charlton Heston to do our TV commercials."
"Is there any resistance to weapon ownership in the USSR?"
"A little among the bourgeoisie wimps who have no use for hunting. But we're fighting back. The NRA is teaching us how to give funds to Kremlin politicians so they will protect gun laws. I was amazed to see what the NRA is able to do with a U.S. congressman for a few thousand dollars."
"Russians can learn a lot from Americans about how to buy legislators," I said. "Do you plan to acquire any guns during your visit?"
" As many as possible. The ethnic minorities are going to need guns if they ever hope to settle their language differences."
Dostievsky thought a minute then said, "We dream of someday producing enough automatic weapons to protect every man, woman and child in the Soviet Union. At the same time we have to have tougher laws for our criminals."
"Fyodor, people purchase guns out of fear, and Russians are as frightened as anybody. That's why your drive for members will not fail."
"It's true. For 60 years we lived in fear of the secret police and the Politburo. Now we are afraid of our economic system. Soviets must have guns under their pillows if they ever hope to get anything to eat. "
"Can you do it?"
"Sure. At least it's a shot in the dark."