American civilians are buying as many AK47s from Russia’s top armory as the Russian military and police.
The surge in sales of Russian assault rifles and shotguns are fuelled by firearms enthusiasts who are paranoid about the weapons being banned in the United States.
The semiautomatic weapons, fitted with high-capacity magazines, are manufactured at Izhevsk Machinebuilding Plant, Russia’s primary small arms factory.
They are built alongside the fully-automatic military versions that are used by armies, militias and terrorists around the world.
In the United States, they have become immensely popular. Among hunters, recreational shooters and survivalists, they are known for being extremely reliable and relatively inexpensive — and they fire powerful ammunition that is cheap and plentiful.
The New York Times reports that the Izhevsk factory is relying on sales of their military-style weapons to American consumers to help support the modernization and re-arming of the Russian military.
Currently, 70 percent of the factory’s production goes to civilian weapons sales — up from 50 percent two years ago.
About 40 percent of all civilian weapons go to the United States.
This mean, the Times reports, that Izhevesk sells as many guns to American shooters and it does to Russian police officers and soldiers.
As debate about gun control heats up in light of three high-profile mass shootings in the last month, imported AK47-style rifles are a favorite target of gun opponents.
Thomas Caffall, the gunman who killed a police constable and a bystander and wounded three others in College Station, Texas, on Monday posted Facebook photos of a similar style semiautomatic rifle before the shooting.
The deranged teenager who killed eight people during a 2007 shooting spree at a shopping mall in Omaha, Nebraska, used an AK47 rifle with two high-capacity magazines.
For $500 to $600, the Russian weapons — sold under the name Saiga — are half the price of most American-made semi-automatic rifles available to shooters in the United States.
They come equipped with 30-round magazines and can fire off 7.62x39mm rounds as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger.
The ammunition has enough knockdown power to killed deer, bears and large wild boar and has become a popular hunting weapons. And it’s cheap — dozens of former Soviet and Warsaw Pact nations have flooded the American market with millions of rounds of surplus Cold War-era ammunition.
‘The quality and versatility far surpassed anything else on the market,’ Terry Sandlin, an electrician from Indiana, told the Times.
He owns a rifle, as well as two of the enormously popular Saiga shotguns — weapons that work the same way as AK47 rifles, but can fire a spread of lead shot that is effective at killing small game — but also devastating if used against humans at close range.
The sales of Saiga rifles in the United States have surged due to a pervasive fear among some gun owners that gun laws will become stricter under President Barack Obama.
Online message boards for shooting enthusiasts are rife with rumors that the federal government plans to ban AK47 rifle imports.
Thus far, the president has not advocated any new gun laws.
Categories: Police State/Civil Liberties