Gun sales soar in Lithuania amid war in Ukraine

Access to the comments Comments
By Katherine Berjikian  & Lithuanian National Television
A shopper in a gun shop
A shopper in a gun shop   -  Copyright  Credit: LTLT via EVN

Gun buyers have been flocking to Lithuania's stores since the start of the war in Ukraine, with sales increasing up to eight times and applications for gun licences doubling.

Shooting ranges have also reported a large increase in clients seeking to refresh their skills or even those wishing to learn to shoot without an intention to buy a gun.

Sales have shot up for all categories of weapons but the largest demand is for handguns used for self-defence and semi-automatic weapons that could also be used in military situations. Some stores have reported selling as many handguns in a week as during the preceding year.

"I already have small calibre rifles at home but have never used them. But now, the disturbances are completely unimaginable. I am very scared for my children," one buyer says.

Store owners say that most clients now come to buy their second guns and with a clear idea of what they want.

"Many more clients are coming. they buy semi-automatic rifles - unfortunately, I have no more to show them, I sold them out - and handguns,” says gun store manager Gytis Misiukevicius.

“People buy handguns most probably for self-defence, as they are of course not suitable for war. So they buy them out of their insecurity, to protect themselves, their families and relatives should something happen. Whereas semi-automatic rifles, they can be used for firefights."

Many stores also report that they have run out of military-style gear such as night vision and thermal vision equipment, flak jackets and tactical clothes. The Lithuanian Defence and Security Industry Association has said that most of those goods have been bought to be sent to Ukraine as privately funded military assistance.

In stores, handguns cost around €600 while semi-automatic rifles around €2,000. Second-hand guns sell online for just over half the price.

Police issue licences to those 23 and above - or 21 and above for hunting rifles - with a spotless reputation and appropriate medical certificates. There are no limits to the number of guns that can be owned but storage rules tighten as the number goes up.

At the beginning of 2022, some 92,000 people had gun licences in the country of 2.7 million people. They owned just over 181,000 guns.