Retired United States Navy Pilot Adrian Kellgren donated 400 semi-automatic rifles to Ukraine to help arm the country’s civilian fighting force. Kellgren made the decision after his family-owned gun company, KelTec was left with an unshipped order worth $200,000 of 9mm foldable rifles from a long-time Ukrainian customer who became unreachable after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The American people want to do something,” said the US Navy veteran. “We enjoy our freedoms. We cherish those things. And when we see a group of people out there getting hammered like this, it’s heartbreaking.”

The Florida-based company’s donation is a distinguished example of American entities collecting military supplies like firearms, helmets, and body armor as a response to the call of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to arm his citizens. However, similar lower-profile efforts to respond to this call have been met with regulation intricacies in the international shipment of items given the invasion.

While Kellgren did encounter some of these intricacies, his experience knowing the ins and outs of the shipment and bureaucratic red tape helped him successfully deliver the munitions. His company managed to gain contact with a diplomat from the Ukrainian Embassy that allowed them to obtain a federal arms export license in a couple of days. Such a process often takes several months.

According to Kellgren, the staff at the KelTec warehouse moved four plastic-wrapped pallets which contained their 9mm foldable rifles this week. The shipment, bound for Ukraine, is to be delivered to an unnamed facility of NATO. Afterward, the package will be received by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, which is tasked to deliver the weapons to the frontlines.

“That’s when the real derring-do and heroism begins,” said Kellgren.

Donation Drives Across America

Collective efforts to supply Ukraine with arms have spread throughout the United States. From the east coast to the west coast, local governments and non-profits have or intend to gather much-needed military supplies and send them to Ukraine.

On March 14, Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced a donation of over 1,000 ballistic helmets and 840 sets of body armor pooled from 25 local law enforcement units bound for Ukraine.