Russia Sanctions Spur AK-47 Buying Frenzy

Image: Russia Sanctions Spur AK-47 Buying Frenzy Cindy Sparr boxes an AK-47 style rifle purchased by a customer at a sporting goods store in Tinley Park, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Monday, 01 Sep 2014 09:43 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Gun enthusiasts have been rushing to purchase the original Russian-made AK-47 Kalashnikov while the rifle is still available, The Washington Post reported.

The Obama administration is banning the importation of the weapon, as part of a series of measures to punish Moscow for its actions in Ukraine, the Post said.

Since July, when the ban became public, hundreds of AK-47s — at about $1,000 a piece — have been bought by gun dealers and consumers. Some are suspicious that the administration is using the Ukraine crisis as a pretext to outlaw the weapon as part of its gun control efforts.

"We of course recognize the important role that enacting sanctions can have in furthering legitimate U.S. foreign policy interests," the National Rifle Association said in a statement, according to the Post. "However, in this instance the extent to which these actions coincide with the stated domestic policy goals of gun control supporters is more than a little unsettling."

The pro-gun community points to statistics showing that more people are killed by hammers and fists than rifles, Breitbart News reported.

Experts say that whenever a move is made to ban gun purchases it has the unintended consequence of actually driving up sales. "The great irony here is that the threat of regulation has the perverse effect of stimulating sales, and not just by a little," said Duke University researcher Philip Cook. "The numbers are impressive. You have millions of extra sales," the Post reported.

Some gun control experts say they are willing to except an immediate spike for a durable prohibition on high-powered weapons. Others worry that private sales, which in most states do not require background checks, will only put more guns in the hands of criminals, the Post reported.

Gun dealers like Tyler Whidby in Leesburg, Virginia, say that while they welcome the spurt in sales, they worry about the continuing impact of the ban. Gun control talk boosts sales but over the long term such bans "might put us out of business," the Post reported.

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