Cheap and deadly, the Avtomat Kalashnikova -- the AK-47 -- is one of the 20th century's most influential technologies. But these days it's not desperate revolutionaries and militiamen around the world who are buying the Soviet killing machine. Gun-toting American civilians account for 28 per cent of sales.
The New York Times reports that the Kalashnikov factory in Izhevsk, Russia -- a town called the "Armory of Russia" -- is selling just as many AK-47s to the United States as to the Russian police and military combined. You see, with the Cold War over and a global arms market flooded with knock-offs and used guns, demand for authentic Kalashnikovs off the assembly line has plummeted.
In recent years, sales of AK-47s to civilians have jumped from 50-percent to 70 per cent of all sales and 40 per cent of those guns are exported to the United States. As the Times points out, this is part of the Kremlin's master plan to rearm its military with the new AK-12 rifle on the cheap. Sales of the AK-47 had dropped so low that production levels in Izhevsk were too low to be efficient. Remember, these facilities were built with an eye on a catastrophic global war. By pushing civilian sales and suspending its own purchases, the Russian government is giving the factory an efficiency boost that will make the AK-12 cheaper on our dollars.
In summary, American civilians are importing an army's worth of murderous rifles, sending money to a Russian arms manufacturer, and funding the overhaul of the Russian military's arsenal. God bless America. [The New York Times]
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