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Our home for bold arguments and big thinkers.

Andrey Lomakin
“A man should be able to do many things by himself. In particular: protect his family.”
TRIGGER SAD

Photos: war-ready Ukrainians pose with their household guns

By Andrey Lomakin

Freelance photographer

At the age of 12 in the USSR, I could assemble an AK-47 with my eyes closed. I had excellent marks in shooting and was fond of all types of weaponry. Guns were exciting to kids—we could spend hours playing war games and discussing military machinery.

Things are different in modern Ukraine. Children, particularly young ones, do not pay any attention to the firearms in their homes. On one occasion, I saw an armed father with three of his children around and none of them seemed to have the slightest interest in his rifle. It was as if he was holding a mop.

Andrey Lomakin
“Once in a conflict situation I had to show that I’m armed. It stopped the aggressive people. I had only a gas pistol in my hands. To use a firegun for self-defense may have catastrophic consequences for its owner. But the safety of my family is for me above all.” Vyacheslav, 37 years old, building engineer.

Ukrainian law does not grant citizens any particular right to bear arms. All the same, private gun ownership has become common here in recent years.

The only way to own a firearm legally in Ukraine is to purchase a rifle or a shotgun for hunting. In 2014, during the tragic events in Ukraine (Maidan, the annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Donbass), sales of hunting weapons in Ukraine increased several times over. By the end of 2014, there were more than 555,000 registered owners of rifles and shotguns—by March 2015, the number of weapon owners had increased to 750,000.

Personally, I don’t have a gun, and I think I will never own one. My camera is the perfect weapon. I shot these photos of Ukrainian civilians in their homes between October 2014 and February 2015 because I wanted to show ordinary citizens who are trying to protect themselves and their  families from violence.

Andrey Lomakin
“This gun was bought during the Orange revolution. That was a tumultuous time, like today. With a gun I feel reassured when I am going for a walk with my child and in particular if my husband is not around. Fortunately, I never had to use the gun.” Tatyana, 39, police officer.
Andrey Lomakin
“My hobby is hunting. But I would use the shotgun without a doubt to protect my family, within the bounds of the law. I am a graduate in law and understand my own responsibility for all my activities.” Alexander, 39, entrepreneur.
Andrey Lomakin
“The wartime is not so terrible as a post-war period. I share the principle of the Swiss army—each man should know how to handle a weapon and understand combat tactics. I have been doing military training for 5 months.” Alexander, 36, IT engineer.
Andrey Lomakin
“I’m from Donetsk. In the spring of 2014 it became clear that life without weapons would be hard. A week after I bought a rifle, the house where I stayed with my friends was attacked by armed people. I had to shoot. Probably, it saved our lives.” Alexey, 29, businessman.
Andrey Lomakin
“Having a gun at home, I feel myself fully confident in terms of protecting my home and my family. I need less than one minute to load it and be ready to use it in case of danger.” Alexey, 40, IT group manager.
Andrey Lomakin
“I never thought that we would have a firearm in our home, but now I believe it is necessary. It took three months before I got this shotgun because of the deficit of weapons in Ukraine.” Andrei, 36, sales manager.
Andrey Lomakin
“You should always have a choice to own a firearm or not.” Dmitry, 40, businessman.
Andrey Lomakin
“A man should be able to do many things by himself. In particular: protect his family. I am ready to use a weapon for protection of my own house.” Roman, 37, painter.
Andrey Lomakin
“I do not consider my firearm as a means of self-protection in normal (non war) time. But now it could be possible that the military activities turn from Donbass to Kiev. I am ready for such a development.” Taras, 36, lawyer.
Andrey Lomakin
“Once in a conflict situation I had to show that I was armed. It stopped the aggressive people. I had only a gas pistol in my hands. To use a firegun for self-defense may have catastrophic consequences for its owner. But the safety of my family is for me above all.” Vyacheslav, 37, building engineer.
Andrey Lomakin
“An unforeseen situation in the country forced me to decide on weapon. Now it slowly turns to a hobby: visiting a shooting saloon, buying something new to upgrade the rifle. The weapon at home definitely disciplines and raises the responsibility level.” Eugene, 36, sales manager.
Andrey Lomakin
Eugene, 36, sales manager.