American gunmakers support Ukraine in their fight against Putin

Adrian Kellgren's Florida-based family gun business was left with a $200,000 shipment semi-automatic rifles.

American gunmakers support Ukraine in their fight against Putin

This happened after a long-standing customer in Ukraine became silent during Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Kellgren and KelTec, fearing the worst, decided to send those 400 guns to Ukraine's emerging resistance movement to aid civilians fighting back against a Russian army that has repeatedly bombed their apartments, schools, and hiding places.

Kellgren, an ex-Navy pilot and former U.S. Navy pilot, said that "the American people want something." We cherish our freedoms. It's heartbreaking to see people get hammered like that.

The donation by KelTec, a Cocoa-based company, is a prominent example of Americans collecting weapons, ammunition, and helmets in response to the promise made by Volodymyr Zelenskyy to arm Ukrainian citizens. Many similar grassroots efforts have been derailed by inexperienced international shipping regulations.

Kellgren, who has been dealing with this red tape for many years, was able to connect through a Ukrainian neighbour with a diplomat at the Ukrainian Embassy, who helped him obtain a federal arms export licence in only four days. This process can take several months.

As Congress debated whether or not to send more advanced weapons to Ukraine, KelTec workers forklifted four pallets with their 9mm folding rifles. They were to be delivered to an unidentified NATO-run facility. The shipment's new receiver, Ukraine's Ministry of Defense will be responsible for smuggling weapons into the warzone.

Kellgren stated, "That's where the real heroism and derring-do begins."

California, New York and California elected officials, sheriffs and non-profits claim they have collected thousands of pieces of body armor and millions upon millions of rounds for Ukraine.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis launched a campaign last Wednesday to ask sheriff's and police departments to donate any surplus ballistic helmets or other equipment. He said that he knew it could be used urgently to stop Putin and save Ukraine.

There are dangers, however: 400 bulletproof vests were stolen from a New York City nonprofit trying to collect tactical gear before they could be sent.

Many of the organizers don't know how to navigate international arms export regulations. Sometimes, approvals are required from the Departments of Commerce, Defense and State to ship non-lethal tactical equipment. One such drive is being organized in New York by people who are using KelTec's 60-long gun export license they just acquired.

Bruce Blakeman, Nassau County Executive, stated that he hopes the movement spreads throughout the United States and that every gun shop and gun manufacturer in the U.S. will accept these donations.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is a trade association for firearms manufacturers. This week, they distributed step-by–step instructions to more than 8,000 members about how to apply to expedited export license. The National Shooting Sports Foundation also gave a list of sniper rifles, pistols, and ammunition requested by the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington.

KelTec plans to organize more shipments in future. The company's license permits the export of up 10,000 weapons. It also offers weekly shipments to the Ukrainians and its own production line.

Details about KelTec's efforts were revealed in a Justice Department file this week by Lukas Jankaczmarek (Maryland-based real estate lawyer), who stated that he was helping Ukraine acquire weapons as a volunteer for the Ukrainian-American Bar Association and Volodymyr Mzylov, the first secretary of the Ukraine Embassy.

Kaczmarek stated that he expected to work in the same capacity during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He also wrote that he would not be receiving any monetary compensation for his assistance.

KelTec is not the only arms manufacturer that answered the call.

Adams Arms, another Florida company, posted a videoof what they claimed was a shipment carbine rifles bound for Ukraine on its Facebook page. The company also began selling T-shirts with the famous final broadcast from a Ukrainian Border Guard unit telling a Russian warship "Go (expletive). Yourself!" All proceeds from shirt sales will be donated to the Ukrainian National Bank's war fund.

Although rifles cannot match Putin's firepower with Sukhoi fighter jets or cluster bombs, they could play an important role if Russia gets bogged down in street combat, said Major John Spencer, a retired U.S Army Major.

KelTec's semi-automatic rifles are more valuable than the high-tech anti-aircraft missiles. They require extensive training and training that is beyond most civilians' reach. Many of these civilians have never held a gun before.

Spencer, an analyst in urban warfare at Madison Policy Forum, a New York-based thinktank, said that every shipment of firearms was critical. "You are giving one more fighter out of tens or thousands the chance to resist with a simple weapon."

Kellgren stated that he was inspired by the tenacity and resourcefulness of Ukrainian citizens, and that he is certain the rifles he sent will make a significant impact.

He said that the Ukrainian people have had a lot of civilian firearms, and are now trying to hold off a superpower. "So, the X-factor is not necessarily what equipment you have. ... It all comes down to your will to fight."


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