(ZH) — Americans have expressed sympathy for Ukrainian amid the Russian invasion. Bars and restaurants have stopped serving Russian vodka, up to 3,000 Americans have joined the fight overseas, and now a Nassau County politician announced a gun collection drive to resupply Ukrainian Armed Forces with small arms.
GOP County Executive Bruce Blakeman announced the gun drive on Thursday and wants Long Islanders to donate their weapons.
"We want rifles, AR-15s, and shotguns.
"President Zelenskyy for the last few days has been begging weapons, begging for help. How could we sit by silently and not do our part?" Blakeman told ABC7 New York.
Blakeman, whose grandparents are from Ukraine, told NYPost:
"Just watching the Ukrainian residents making Molotov cocktails in a brewery out of beer bottles shows they're in a desperate flight and we can't stand by and do nothing," he said.
“There are people that will scoff at what we’re doing here today,” Blakeman added.
“Well, I want you to think about the French Resistance in World War II, where citizens took up arms against the Nazis,” he said.
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Blakeman, referring to a tweet from the Ukrainian president, said, "As President Zelensky said: he doesn't need a ride, he needs weapons."
While the four-day gun collection drive kicks off Friday with hopes to collect military-style semiautomatic weapons, such as the AR-15, the logistical means of shipping firearms overseas remains up in the air. Blakeman said he hadn't identified a way to get the guns to Ukraine because federal agencies would need to inspect and sign off on the shipment.
Once the guns are collected, getting them to Ukraine is a big hurdle. The transport and delivery of them are in the hands of the federal government, although no taxpayer money will be spent on the effort.
“The only way they can be transferred is to a federally approved, licensed distributor in a foreign country,” Blakeman said.
“It’s a long process to get that done. So that’s why we’re asking for help from the federal government.”
Should the weapons not find their way to Ukraine, they’ll be returned to the donors.
However, another problem could develop as the Ukrainian military uses the AK platform. This means a bulk of their ammo supplies are chambered in 7.62×39 or 5.45×39, which would make ammo hard to find in the war-torn country for AR platform weapons.
Days ago, AMMO, Inc., a US-based ammunition and components manufacturer, announced they would donate a million rounds of ammunition to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Also, the US, UK, France, Germany, and other western European countries have pledged to ship weapons to Ukraine, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.